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Women in STEM Guest Speakers Inspire Students
Olivia Flemming

In eleventh-grade biology classes, students have been learning about the history behind the discovery of DNA's structure, the double helix. Three men, James Watson, Francis Crick, and Maurice Wilkins, received the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for the discovery in 1953.

Most people don't know that the discovery was only possible because of the work and data of Dr. Rosalind Franklin, a brilliant female scientist. She never received credit for her contribution during her lifetime. While much has changed in the sciences and society since 1953, there is still a great deal of progress to be made in acknowledging the work of women in science.

On Monday, October 18, Branson students had the opportunity to hear from Dr. Elena Glassman and Dr. Hanadie Yousef. In a Zoom forum moderated by Branson Science Department Chair Carl Ma, Dr. Glassman and Dr. Yousef answered students' questions and shared advice about pursuing careers in STEM. 

Dr. Elena Glassman is a Stanley A. Marks and William H. Marks Assistant Professor at the Radcliffe Institute and a professor of computer science at the Harvard Paulson School of Engineering and Applied Sciences specializing in human-computer interaction. She designs, builds, and evaluates systems for comprehending and interacting with population-level structure and trends in large code and data.

When asked what sparked her interest in science, Dr. Glassman described attending lectures at local universities with her father, who encouraged her to be curious and ask questions as much as possible. Dr. Glassman challenged students to find mentors who do work that excites them.

Dr. Hanadie Yousef is a scientist, aging biology expert, and the co-founder and CEO of Juvena Therapeutics, a biopharma startup developing protein-based therapeutics to promote tissue regeneration and increase healthspan to prevent, reverse, and cure degenerative diseases.

Dr. Yousef encouraged students to attend local science fairs, volunteer to do lab work in their community, and to seek out science competition opportunities. Dr. Yousef explained the benefits of mentors in high school and college, and she encouraged students to reach out to adults for informational interviews. 

Thank you again to Dr. Glassman and Dr. Yousef for taking the time to share their stories with our students.