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Natural Science

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2016-2017 Rising Voices Fellow Maya Jodidio Pipetting DNA into a Gel

To Girls Taking Their First STEM Classes

by Caroline Kubzansky and Maya Jodidio
If you’re a female-identifying teen and you attend high school, chances are good that you take, or will take, a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) class. Physics, biology, and chemistry are the usual suspects. We’re writing to share some collective wisdom with you from our own high-school experience.

Malka Kolodny

Malka Fisz Kolodny served as one of the first teachers in pre-State Palestine, at a time when teaching often involved counseling traumatized war orphans.

Clara Immerwahr

As the wife of Fritz Haber, the father of chemical warfare, and a scientist in her own right, Dr. Clara Immerwahr made the ultimate protest of her husband’s work by committing suicide.

Clara Heyn

In her work on Leguminosae (a family of plants that includes peas and legumes), Clara Heyn named several new species and helped scientists better understand the variety of plants native to Israel.

Elisabeth Goldschmidt

Elisabeth Goldschmidt worked on the cutting edge of genetics, doing research and offering counseling on inherited diseases in the Jewish community.

Rosalind Elsie Franklin

Although her work formed the basis for Watson and Crick’s discovery of DNA, Rosalind Franklin was denied credit for decades.
Tikvah Alper

The Social Justice and Science Superwoman: Tikvah Alper

by Maya Jodidio

Few women have been both scientists and social justice activists in their lifetimes. Both of these roles are time-consuming and challenging, yet somehow Tikvah Alper succeeded as a distinguished radiobiologist and as a fierce opponent to the apartheid in South Africa.

Naomi Feinbrun-Dothan

Naomi Feinbrun-Dothan helped pioneer the scientific analysis of native Israeli flora and establish the study of botany and genetics at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

Edith Bulbring

Physiologist Edith Bülbring was so frustrated by the unpredictable responses of smooth muscle tissue in the lab that she made them her life’s work, becoming one of the most respected experts in her field.

Batsheva Bonne-Tamir

By studying both isolated and mixed populations in Israel, Batsheva Bonne-Tamir uncovered the genetic histories and relationships between long-separated communities.

Yehudith Birk

Yehudith Birk’s investigations into the protein structures of legumes like soy and chickpeas led to vital discoveries about both the nutritional value of legumes and their potential for combatting certain cancers.

Sarah Bavly

As one of the chief nutritionists and dieticians of Palestine and the emerging State of Israel, Sarah Bavly had to improvise workable plans for everything from offering school lunches to feeding boatloads of refugees.

Ruth Arnon

Immunologist Ruth Arnon and her long-time collaborator Michael Sela made unprecedented breakthroughs when they developed the first synthetic antigen and the first drug approved for treating multiple sclerosis, Copaxone.

Tikvah Alper

Radiobiologist Tikvah Alper, who spent a lifetime questioning accepted theories and the established order, discovered that diseases like scrapie and mad cow replicated without DNA.

Elga Ruth Wasserman

Having experienced the sexism rampant in higher education herself, Elga Ruth Wasserman guided Yale through the difficult process of becoming a co-ed university.

Joan Feynman

Astrophysicist Joan Feynman shaped our understanding of solar winds, auroras, and sunspots, and her battle to open scientific bastions to women transformed the field for those who followed.

Faye Libby Schenk

Fay Libby Schenk turned down a promising career as a zoologist to devote herself to Hadassah and other Zionist organizations.

Vera Cooper Rubin

Far ahead of her time, Vera Cooper Rubin theorized that galaxies clustered and moved in ways that defied the Big Bang Theory, and helped prove the existence of dark matter.

Ora Mendelsohn Rosen

Despite her tragically short career, Ora Mendelsohn Rosen’s biochemical research helped explain how hormones dictate cell growth, shaping our understanding of diabetes and cancer.

Bessie Louise Moses

Bessie Louise Moses made huge strides for birth control as a doctor, a teacher of medicine, and author of Contraception as a Therapeutic Measure in 1936.

Elsie Margaret Binger Naumburg

Elsie Margaret Binger Naumburg put her research into rare South American birds on hold during WWII to aid a different breed of songbird: refugee and unemployed musicians.

Jessie Marmorston

Jessie Marmorston’s research into hormone secretion led to breakthroughs in our understanding of the ways stress can contribute to heart attacks and certain cancers.

Lena Levine

From the 1930s through the 1950s, Lena Levine used her medical and psychological training to offer women advice on everything from birth control to intimacy issues.

Gertrude Elion / Nina Fefferman

Scientists

Leaders in the Lab

Nina Fefferman

Evolutionary biologist and epidemiologist Nina Fefferman uses mathematical models to chart how individual choices ripple outward to affect whole groups, helping create strategies to save populations from endangered tortoises to human communities stricken by disease.
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