Science

Jewish women and the Nobel Prize

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As the 2009 Nobel prizes are being handed out, many are fussing over Obama's Peace Prize -- does he deserve it, will this affect his approach with Iran, etc.  Important questions, certainly, but don't let them distract you from the real story this year: 2009 is a record year for women Nobel Prize-winners

Only 40 women have ever won the prestigious Nobel Prize, 5 of whom were awarded the prize this year, one of whom is Israeli Jewess Ada Yonath, winner of the Chemistry Prize.

Remembering Sylvia Schur, a pioneer who transcended the kitchen

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Thanks to Julie & Julia, foodies are abuzz about Julia Child.  Icon though she is, the story of a different sort of chef caught my attention this week.  Sylvia Schur passed away at age 92 last week.  Her obituary in the New York Times captivated me as I realized that this woman was no ordinary chef. 

Sylvia Schur was not a stereotypical "Betty Crocker," though she did create recipes for the company.  She did not wear pearls and an apron and stand in a TV studio stirring cake batter. Instead, she pioneered the modern food industry - creating the now classic recipes you see on the back of the box, problem solving with the heads of Ocean Spray, editing magazines, running a successful consulting company, and developing convenience foods for women on the go.  Sylvia Schur was a creative champion of modern working women who refused to spend their days in the kitchen.

Women crunch numbers, too. Like Barbara Liskov.

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Think you can't survive without your computer? The Internet? The blogosphere? Me too. It's easy for me (and for many of us, I think) to forget about the brains, number crunching, and rigorous research that enable us to post blog entries, read the NY Times online, or shop for shoes with just the click of a mouse.

Mazel Tov, Arlene Blum! A Woman with a Purpose

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I'd like to give a special congratulatory shout-out to Arlene Blum, a phenomenal Jewess and founder of the Green Science Policy Institute, who was just awarded the 2008 Purpose Prize for people over the age of 60 who are taking on society's biggest challenges. 

In the Family

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Last night I watched Joanna Rudnick's intimate and informative documentary, "In the Family," about the BRCA genetic mutations that cause a predisposition to breast and ovarian cancer. Using her own story as the framework for the film - she learned that she is a BRCA mutation carrier at age 27 - Rudnick speaks with cancer survivors, doctors, genetic counselors, other "previvors" like herself, and family members about what it's like to know that your body is, as she puts it, a "time bomb."

Mars, Venus, and the Jews

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I just came across a fascinating series in Slate, challenging the science of sex differences. (It happens to be written and edited by two brilliant Jewesses - Amanda Schaffer and Emily Bazelon - whom I am privileged to know.) Schaffer and Bazelon take on what they call the new "sex difference evangelists" and offer powerful, data-driven rebuttals to their arguments on sex differences in the brain.

The American Jewess: The Social Mores of 19th Century Jewesses (and Martians)

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A regular column in The American Jewess, "The Woman Who Talks" (a more politically correct way to say The Yenta?) was a place "for the ventilation of all subjects pertaining to woman: social, domestic, religious, literary, political, philanthropic, and so on-ad infinituz," according to its first installment.

Mezuzas on the Moon?

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"And you shall write them on the doorposts of your ... spaceship?" Jewish artist, Laura Cowan, has been making space-travel themed mezuzot for years. She was taken by surprise, however, when she received a call from American Jewish astronaut, Greg Chamitoff, asking if he could bring two of her rocket-inspired ritual objects into outer space.

Gertrude Elion: In a Class of Her Own

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The 2007 Nobel Prize laureates in Physics were announced this week—Albert Fert from France and Peter Gruenberg from Germany, both credited for the first successful applications of “nanotechnology” to radically reduce the size while radically increasing the storage of computer hard-drives. With their impressive credentials, Fert and Gruenberg seem to fit the mold for this award in a profession in which male + Ph.D is a likely pairing. But following the announcement, I was pleasantly reminded of chemist Gertrude Elion, a 1988 Nobel Prize recipient, who most certainly did not fit this mold, and who didn’t think much of it: “Women in chemistry and physics? There’s nothing strange about that.”

From self-help to no help

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I’ve never met Lorraine Rothman, a women’s health activist and inventor of the Del’Em menstrual extraction kit. But I came to know her work through my dissertation research, and so I was deeply saddened to hear that she is dying.

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