Women at the Forefront of Scientific Breakthroughs

Women make up more than half of today’s workforce, yet the number of women in the STEM professions (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) continues to lag, with women representing only 23% of the total science work force in 2011. That number has essentially remained stagnant since 1990, but that doesn’t mean that female scientists aren’t changing the world in a big way. Here’s a rundown of some of the most influential women scientists from around the globe.

Dr. Livia Eberlin specializes in mass spectrometry at Stanford. She’s a post-doctoral chemistry scholar who developed a technique to help more efficiently diagnose and evaluate cancer. Her research is being tested in a pilot program at Stanford, where it has already helped to improve the success rate of surgeries for stomach cancer.

Professor Laurie Glimcher is the dean of the Weill Cornell Medical College in New York. In addition to being the first woman dean of a medical school in New York, she is also a Professor of Medicine. Her specialty is immunology. Her discovery of new factors influencing the immune system’s responses to allergens and infections is paving the way for new treatments for allergies, asthma, cancer, childhood diabetes and multiple sclerosis.

Professor Brigitte Kieffer is a Professor of Psychiatry and the Monique H. Bourgeois Chair of Pervasive Developmental Disorders at McGill University. In 1992, she isolated a gene in the brain that alleviates pain, something that had eluded other scientists for years. Her studies of the brain mechanisms involved in drug addiction, mental illness and depression have helped researchers develop new treatments.

Professor Cecilia Bouzat of Argentina is a leading researcher in the field of neurotransmitter pharmacology. Her in-depth study of the way brain how brain cells communicate with one another and with the body’s muscles have opened the door to new treatment options for depression, Alzheimer’s disease and addiction.

Professor Kayo Inaba of Kyoto University has focused on abnormal cell development in diseases such as cancer. Her research revealed that these cells could be treated outside the body and then reintroduced as part of a treatment plan. Already her discoveries have led to new treatments for cancer.

Dr. Giuliana di Martino is a physicist at Imperial College London. Her PhD work was in the emerging field of quantum plasmonics. While she was a visiting researcher at Boston University, she helped to develop more efficient semiconductor solar cells.

Katherine Sparks Woodle is a senior graduate student at Penn State University. Her research is in the field of particle astrophysics. She is also a champion for women in science, and has been involved in the Upward Bound Math/Science Mentorship Program at Penn State.

Angela Belcher
Angela Belcher

Professor Emma Johnston of the Sydney Institute of Marine Science won the Nancy Mills Medal for Women in Science for her research into the impact humans have on marine ecosystems. She also hosts a television show called Coast Australia.

Dr. Stacey Bent, an engineering professor at Stanford University, studies how molecules react to different surfaces. Her research is key to developing more efficient and less expensive clean energy options, such as solar panels

Professor Angela Belcher, a professor of biological engineering at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) was a TIME Magazine Climate Hero in 2007. Her research in biomimicry is allowing her to use her studies of nature to design a new kind of battery grown in a lab.

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