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Tuesday, April 29, 2014

How Emily Ruppel Came into the Science-Faith Arena

Emily Ruppel

Emily Ruppel, Associate Director of Communications for the American Scientific Affiliation, tells about her unusual route into the science-faith arena, which began with a nun.


A few years ago while studying in the science writing master’s program at MIT, I heard about something rather brilliant from a friend at Harvard University. Brilliant things happen at Harvard all the time, of course, but this was ‘brilliant’ in a different way—unexpected, illuminating, and challenging, for the people it happened to. It opened up a course of conversation previously unavailable to its participants. It was controversial, too, in a quiet way.

What happened is this: a graduate student studying astronomy sent an email to her department announcing her imminent departure from the program. She had no qualms with administration nor academic difficulties to my knowledge. It’s just that, in her life, at that time, it had become impossible to ignore the calling to become a nun, rather than an astronomer. To study service and the word rather than cosmic forces and the vast heavens. Her love of Jesus, she wrote in her letter, was very important to her, and this path she was about to embark on, it seemed, would be the only truly fulfilling work she could spend her life doing.

I don’t know much else about the letter or its writer—whether the decision was sudden and easy or difficult and drawn-out, or maybe a mixture of all these things. I do know that surprise and chagrin rumbled throughout the astronomy department, where folks questioned what seemed an illogical and perhaps ill-fated decision.

Read it all here.




Wednesday, April 9, 2014

King's Ridge Christian School Hosts STEM Education Event


Alice C. Linsley

On January 25, 2014, the Atlanta chapter of Young Women In Bio (YWIB) conducted a STEM outreach event for middle and high school girls at King’s Ridge Christian School in Alpharetta, Georgia. The event was aimed at motivating young women to aspire to science careers, especially in life sciences. The event was led by women scientists with specialties in Molecular and Developmental Biotechnology, Microbiology, Genetics and Neuroscience. The workshop involved hands-on classroom activities where students learned about the human skeletal system, different kinds of viruses, the human brain and the neurological processes behind human vision.

Hunter Chadwick
Quizzes were given along with prizes for the winners and the day concluded with a panel discussion featuring women from diverse STEM backgrounds and at different stages of their careers.

The Atlanta chapter of WIB was founded in 2012, to cater to the women in the life sciences sector. WIB-Atlanta provides women a space to interact and exchange information and ideas, through a wide range of social gatherings and educational workshops.

Hunter Chadwick, Principal of the High School, said, “The opportunity to host such an event was extremely rewarding and special for us. We hope we can offer similar events in the future and appreciate the time and education of those involved.”

The successful event at King’s Christian School can serve at a model for CWIS and ASA in considering similar events. We could begin by contacting local Christian schools about hosting a Science Day.