Celebrating Women: Three Scientists Who Made an Impact and Inspired a Career
As a marine scientist and conservationist, I’ve been inspired by many of the scientific greats—Charles Darwin, Gregor Mendel, and Edward O. Wilson. But I am proud to have a long list of inspiring women to look up to, as well. Throughout history women have fought to be recognized, pushed to make a difference, and augmented the norm. As with many industries, women in science struggle with equity in pay, opportunities, and recognition. Despite these imbalances, many major scientific discoveries are attributed to women. Because March is an important month for women with Women’s History Month, International Women’s Day (March 8), and the anniversary of the 1913 suffrage march in Washington (March 3), DC EcoWomen is celebrating women all month long. I would like to celebrate the following amazing women who have inspired me throughout my career and pushed me to make a difference.
Dr. Euginie Clark was a Japanese American marine biology rockstar! Like me, she was drawn to the ocean through a place accessible to all Americans—the local aquarium. This experience inspired her to become SCUBA certified, and during her career she performed more than 70 deep submersible dives. She earned a Ph.D in 1950 and dedicated her career to studying fish and sharks. Her passion to debunk myths and fears about sharks earned her the nickname “Shark Lady”. She helped create Mote Marine Laboratory, which focuses much of their research on shark biology, including the presence of cancer in the species. Reading about this research as a kid fueled my never-ending curiosity of elasmobranchs.
Dr. Theodora Colburn was a trailblazer for endocrine disruption research. Her seminal research showing that small concentrations of chemicals can alter human reproductive, metabolic, and immune systems is chronicled in the novel Our Stolen Future. Born in 1927, she spent her early career as a pharmacist and went back to school at age 51 to earn an M.A. in freshwater ecology and a Ph.D. in zoology. In 1985 she “started” her career with a fellowship advising Congress on science. Over the next several decades she directed research on toxicology and human health and testified about the effects of chemicals in front of Congress. My early research in an endocrine disruption lab was encouraged by her work, but today, more than ever, her efforts to push for Congress to make science-based decisions, and her commitment to disprove industry claims with scientific evidence is inspirational.
Dr. Amanda Vincent is a Canadian marine scientist and seahorse guru. In 1996 she co-founded Project Seahorse, an international, non-profit organization focused on seahorse conservation and community-based sustainable ocean ecosystems use. Dr. Vincent’s recognition that coastal communities rely on ocean resources served as the foundation for her innovative ideas integrating local communities and social science into conservation needs for seahorses, such as marine protected areas and small scale fisheries. Learning about her dedication to protecting the ocean without excluding humans from its use was a pivotal moment for me, which drew me to the sustainability and conservation field.
DC EcoWomen celebrates women every day and we’d love for you to celebrate women with us all March long by sharing on Twitter and Facebook using the hashtag #celebratingwomen and #dcecowomen. We’d love to hear who inspires you and how you’re celebrating women. Let’s start a conversation!
Each one of us has the power to inspire, and what better way than through our signature event: EcoHour. Join us on the third Tuesday of every month at Teaism Penn Quarter for an hour of inspiring stories about career growth from women in the environmental field.
Stacy Knight is a marine scientist and a DC EcoWomen board member. She recently moved to DC to apply her diverse science skills to the environmental policy arena, and currently works for the Consortium for Ocean Leadership on the Political Affairs team. A science nerd at heart, she loves nature, the ocean, and photography. In her free time, she can be found enjoying local restaurants, sampling craft beers, and taking landscape photographs.