Hi readers! Super excited to announce that I’m in the May issue of Girl Power Mag! The magazine is sold on stands in Australia and can be purchased worldwide online! Girl Power is such a positive and empowering news outlet. I’m honored to be featured in the Goals Issue. Thank you Girl Power Mag for inspiring girls everywhere to achieve their goals.
Navigating the Science Fair World
Insider tips to finding science fairs in your area and how to excel on the judging floor.
Science fairs are a fantastic medium for sharing independent research and expanding your STEM network. From the incredibly driven students in the competition to the amazing professionals who volunteer to judge the projects, science fairs encompass learning opportunities from every angle. I recently competed in the New York City Science & Engineering Fair (NYCSEF) and was honored to receive awards as a finalist. I learned everything I know about science fairs from my friend and fellow intern at Roswell Park Cancer Institute, Ralph! Below I’ll be sharing some tips from Ralph and of course, the tips I’ve acquired competing on the judging floor!
- Find your local fair and pay attention to deadlines. Stay organized while conducting your research to develop a comprehensive paper. The Society for Science and the Public has an awesome fair finder resource!
- In addition to competing in your local fair, there are other STEM competitions to apply to! Competitions include Siemens and Intel STS.
- At the competition, stay hydrated! Bring snacks and a water bottle as long as food/drink is allowed at the fair. Always check the guidelines before arriving!
- Print your poster board at least a week before the fair to ensure it is mistake-free and you are comfortable presenting with it.
- Stay confident while presenting! Yes, presenting at a fair can be intimidating, especially if it is your first time! Turn your nervous energy into excitement! Be proud of your work!
- Wear comfy shoes! You will most likely be standing at your board for the entire duration of the fair.
- Try to relieve stress before the fair by listening to music and/or stretching. My fave playlist is Pop Chillout on Spotify.
Shirt- American Eagle
Awards Ceremony Look-
Shoes- Thalia Sodi (Macy’s)
If you have any advice that you would like to share on scistrut.com, connect with me on social media!
#STEMSPOTLIGHT : MEET DARA
Dara Godfrey is a registered dietitian who empowers her patients to lead healthy lifestyles. Attaining a Masters in Nutrition at New York University, Dara is a role model for all girls aspiring to receive a graduate degree in a STEM-related field. In addition to encouraging individuals to set goals for health and happiness, Dara contributes to many articles in media outlets such as Cosmopolitan Magazine and Self Magazine.
Check out Dara’s interview for her thoughts on women in STEM, managing health in college, and superb advice! For more, follow Dara on Instagram @daragodfrey for a vibrant feed of health/fitness inspo and adorable moments of her two daughters!
Do you have a major diet No-No’s when it comes to crash diets or other fads targeted at teens?
Anything that’s a ‘diet’ implies something short term and often something drastic. I’m not into any diet that cuts out any food group, is too restrictive or doesn’t allow you to chew your food (that means no juice cleanses!). Skipping meals, using laxatives and/or vomiting post meals are all big ‘No-no’s.’
And diets targeted at teens are especially scary. Dieting can create unhealthy eating habits and can ultimately lead to major eating disorders. Everyone needs fats, carbohydrates and protein as part of their daily meals to be healthy.
Teens should focus on eating a variety of food and realize that being healthy and fit isn’t a fad or a trend. It’s a lifestyle.
What’s your advice for turning the freshman fifteen into the freshman clean?
Going in with a game plan is key! I work with a lot of teens before they go off to college to help them prep for their freshman year. Many of them have never been grocery shopping by themselves. Going to a supermarket, getting comfortable with the environment, and giving them some basic ideas of good food choices (especially practical food items for living in dorm rooms), will help set them up for better eating habits while away from home.
There are a lot of potential food temptations in college – lots of unlimited fast food items in and around campus. Knowing how to navigate a typical cafeteria, food trucks and other meal spots around campus can help teens make better food choices. I always tell my patients – it’s about planning ahead and making some goals, but not beating yourself up for not eating ‘perfectly’ 100% time. It’s about progression, not perfection!
How do you prevent overeating stemming from school and workplace related stress?
Not having your ‘triggers’ around your dorm room, house or desk at work,
is the first step to helping avoid overeating. So that means throwing out any foods that may be eaten (often in excess) when you’re stressed, bored or not thinking straight. On the other hand, stocking your fridge and pantry with healthy options make it less likely to overindulge.
Another thing to keep in mind is to try and manage stress in a healthier way. Calling someone positive to help clear your head and relax may be a way to help decrease stress. A workout or even a quick dance party is another means to build endorphins, or the ‘positive’ feelings in your body. Just taking some time to do something for yourself (that makes you feel good and is non-food related) is crucial when you’re super stressed. You do NOT need to turn to food. That can often heighten one’s anxiety.
Also, if you tend to overeat, or eat more poorly with certain types of friends, try and make an effort to do non-food related activities with them. Don’t surround yourself with people who want to sabotage your healthy habits. They should be supportive of you.
If you could tell your 16-year-old self one thing, what would it be?
Don’t feel bad to be independent and take time for yourself. Being unique is a good thing. And make sure to do the things that truly make you happy.
Have you encountered any challenges as a woman in STEM? If so, what is your advice for combating stereotypes in STEM and for breaking the gender barrier in this field?
I’ve been fortunate to have had many positive experiences over the years as a dietitian, especially being a woman. I do wish dietitians, in general, had more respect as a field in science. We work hard to receive our accreditation (schooling, training/internship, clinical exams, etc.), and it would be great to be treated equally for our skills and expertise as part of the interdisciplinary team of doctors, nurses, and other health care professionals.
Note: After a four week hiatus on this blog, I am thrilled to return with an amazing interview with Dara. Dara is so inspiring and sweet! I have been working on new projects and endeavors; in STEM and in journalism. If you have any questions or are seeking advice in STEM, fashion, writing, etc., connect with me on social media!
Friday Research Look
This leather jacket with a unique woven vest pattern is perfect for adding a pop of color to a sophisticated look. I also wore this jacket to my Stanford Interview! This jacket is available at H&M along with the pictured black turtleneck. I’m currently analyzing data for my research so this flare skirt from LF works for stage I am at for the study. The booties are from BooHoo USA.
I’m so excited for fashion week! I can’t wait to cover the best looks from the FW16 shows!
New Features on Scistrut.com
New year = new features on the blog! This year, focus on being the best version of yourself. Instead of sticking to only a general positive New Year’s resolution, encourage yourself to constantly try your best. Do something everyday to inspire yourself and help someone do the same. I’ve compiled a list of the most cutting-edge and competitive STEM summer programs across the country so you can turn your passion into action. I am so excited for you to release your full potential and see what amazing contributions you can make to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Get ready to make 2016 your most productive, innovative, and exciting year yet! Continue to reach out via social media or in the comments section for advice. It is so exciting to connect with you!
Happy New Year Scistrutters!
#STEMSPOTLIGHT: MEET SARAH
I met Sarah at the L’Oreal For Women in Science Ceremony where she was honored for her incredible contributions in STEM. Dr. Sarah Ballard is a Torres fellow in exoplanetary astrophysics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology! In addition to her research, Sarah co-founded a podcast series with fellow astrophysicist and best friend, Sarah Rugheimer“Self-care with Drs.Sarah” to address issues faced by women in STEM careers and foster self-confidence. Sarah discovered four exoplanets turning 30, however, becoming an astrophysicist was not Sarah’s career goal from the start. Check out Sarah’s interview to learn how she developed her passion for astronomy and her advice for girls in STEM!
At the L’Oreal For Women in Science ceremony, we discussed how your science requirement at UC Berkeley led to your current career. What was that experience like?
I signed up to take astronomy in my freshman year at Berkeley because of the physical science breadth requirement! I thought at the time that it was a useless requirement for me, since I planned to major in Gender Studies or Peace and Conflict studies. The class was on the early side, 9 AM, so I would stumble sleepily out of the dorms and go. My interest starting building slowly, almost imperceptibly. I started never missing section (where a TA reviewed the weekly material) or office hours. And then one morning, something very unusual happened. It was a lecture Iike any other, and the professor was showing PowerPoint slides. He pointed at one slide and asked the class, “what do you think this is a picture of?” I’ll describe the image as I saw it then, without the years of astronomy training I’ve had since that morning. It looked like two cotton balls. One was bigger than the other one. In my mind, I guessed to myself “maybe it’s a star?” The professor said, “these are two elliptical galaxies. The smaller one is in orbit around the bigger one.” I realized two things at the same time, and I felt an electric thrill up my spine, and the little hairs on the back of my neck stood up. The first was that I was looking at this galaxy, comprising 100s of billions of stars, but even the *closest distance* between two neighboring stars was unfathomably, inhumanly big. Even the tiniest scale outstripped my imagination. And secondly, the same physical laws apply on the the largest possible scales. The same gravity that makes the moon orbit the Earth and the Earth orbit the Sun causes galaxies to orbit one another.
But just like most women who pursue advanced degrees in STEM, I didn’t end up changing my major to astronomy because I necessarily thought I was good at it, or because I thought I could make a contribution (in contrast, these are reasons young men tend to self-report about why they pursued science). I did it, like most women, because people who mattered to me encouraged me to. I met with the professor, I met with the TA, and I met with an undergraduate advisor for the college. All three unequivocally supported my idea to change my major to astrophysics. My TA said, “you’re my best student.” But I agonized over the decision, because I was so uncertain about whether I’d be able to pass the tough physics and math courses, etc etc. In the counselor’s office, I was actually tearful because I was so agitated and confused. She asked me, “what does it *feel like* to do astronomy, Sarah?” I described printing out star charts to find planets outside my dorm, and looking forward to doing my homework. She said, “that’s what it’s supposed to feel like!” I’ll never forget those words. As I often say, there but for the grace of those three people go I! If I hadn’t received encouragement at that critical juncture, my professional life might have turned out extremely differently.
How do you decompress after a long day at the lab?
Depends on my mood! If I’m feeling really disconnected from my more empathic, heartfelt side, I’ll spend some time singing and playing the guitar. If I feel really burned out, I’ll watch comedies on TV, or read Tumblr. If I feel lonely, I’ll take a book (I love to read fiction. No space stuff outside of wor) and go to a cafe, or hang out with a friend, paint our nails or whatnot. If I feel sad, I’ll make sure to make time to do at least half an hour of yoga (I like Yoga with Adriene’s YouTube channel) or listen to a comedy podcast (my favorite is Call Chelsea Peretti!).
Describe your personal style in three words.
“Hip therapist aesthetic”, lol. I like very tailored, curated looks that also broadcast something empathic and approachable. Bronze hoop earring, some nicely fitting black capris, and an asymmetric sweater with koi swimming on it, for example. That’s what I wore when I celebrated my birthday party this year.
What advice do you have for girls pursuing STEM careers?
My advice is derived from what I know is more impactful (in peer-reviewed research) related to the retention of people in scientific trajectories, and also based on my own experience. First, find a mentor, or at least identify someone you can look at and think “I want to be like her.” Not only professionally, but personally too. Representation really matters. Second, value the things that you love about yourself *outside* of science, like your sense of humor, relationships with friends or family, etc. Research shows that, for women, reflecting on the things that matter to you creates a kind of buffer against the harmful cultural noise of negative stereotypes. Your funny, silly self is not different from your hard-working, scientifically accomplished self. It’s the same person, and the pieces work best when they work together. Third, trust your instincts. That’s not only STEM career advice, but advice about how to live a rich life. I think women, particularly women in historically (white) male spaces, feel invisible pressure to discount how they really feel about a situation, in favor of how they think they “should” feel. If you’re having a feeling about something, it’s for a reason. Feelings encode important information about a situation and your own state, and no good scientist disregards good data. 🙂 You’re the one who knows what’s best for you.
What’s your go-to makeup look?
I like a subtle, natural look that makes me look glowy and awake (even if I haven’t had my coffee yet). Typically that means a nude/rose lipstick (I like Bobbi Brown’s Raisin), a nicely blended eyeshadow look with very subtle gradations across the lid (I love Shu Uemura’s eyeshadow palette, which a fellow women physicist recommended to me), and mascara. And a little bit of highlighter on my cheekbones, like the ones by Becca that they sell at Sephora. I could go on, because I love talking about makeup, but I’ll pump the brakes there.
Do you have an ultimate career goal or major question you would like to answer within astrophysics?
Yes, I’d like to know whether anything about the dynamical history of a system of planets encodes anything about the individual atmospheres of their planets, or their habitability. Nature hides so many interesting links between things, and I suspect (but I don’t know yet!) that there will be a pattern of some kind between how systems of planets are sculpted and evolve, how suitable they are for life, and the types of molecules and hazes we will find in their atmospheres. That’s probably something I think we’ll know the answer to, at least in some form, in around 10 or 15 years. Come ask me then what the answer is!!
Thanks for reading! Want to be featured in scistrut’s STEM spotlight series or know someone who would? Comment on this post, tweet me @autumngreco_ or send me a message on Instagram.
Why I’m participating in Khan Academy’s “Hour of Code” and why you should too…
Coding has become an essential skill in today’s modern society. Your favorite iPhone apps? Made with code. Zac Posen’s LED dress? Made with code. Coolest music beat? Made with code. Basically, most of the things we enjoy are made or affected by code. Well, what exactly is code? Coding or computer programming is the process of inputing a series of instructions to perform a certain task or solve a problem. Coding enables us to put our ideas to reality. Think about what you can achieve with code and join over millions of people for the first ever Computer Science Education Week. Tag me on social media @autumngreco on instagram and @autumngreco_ on twitter when you share what you learned during your first time coding. I’m so excited to participate in Khan Academy’s exciting new program!