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  • Writer's pictureS. Yoshi Maezumi

A woman in science

"It is better to light a candle than curse the darkness."- Eleanor Roosevelt

Increasing media attention is being drawn to the role women play in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM). Despite the advancements we have made in the 20th century, a recent study shows women are still underrepresented in STEM subjects and on average paid less compared to our male counterparts. While government initiatives, think-tanks, and funding resources have been allocated to address this issue, there are things we, as women in science can do on a grassroots level to increase our visibility and demonstrate that a career in science can be both fun and accessible to young women. As a minority female in science, I would like to share my experience working as a Marie Curie Fellow conducting field science in remote regions of the Amazon. Over the past year, I have been increasingly interested in science communication. I spend much of my time thinking about ways to make my science more interesting and visually captivating to a broader audience. This has developed from my excitement and enthusiasm about my research as well as a fascination about the natural world. My cup overfloweth with a love for science and science education. Apologies again to my caffeine deprived comrades who have been subject to my early morning science digressions.

Before we embark upon my inspiration crusade, allow me to introduce myself. I grew up in a little mountain town in California called Idyllwild, with a booming population of 2,000 people. My Dad was a zen master and my mom is an artist and anthropologist. I was recently interviewed for the local paper about my experience growing up in Idyllwild. The full story can be found here. I came to a career in science through a circuitous route as a professional dancer, archaeologist, yoga instructor and business owner, all of which ultimately led to my career in Amazonian paleoecology (the study of old ecosystems in the Amazon). Many of these stories will be detailed in my upcoming posts.

On Monday, I was awarded a Marie Curie Individual Fellowship for my new research project entitled FIRE: Fire in Rainforest Ecotones (an ecotone is where two different habitats come together, like when a forest turns into a grassland).

FIRE will explore whats causes fire and how fire shapes Amazon rainforests and savannas. As the world is getting warmer, wildfires are more common. My basic questions include: what happens when you burn it? what happens when you burn it a lot? what happen when you burn it for a long time? what happens when its really really hot? and, how hot are we talking?

During this research, I have the opportunity to work with an extraordinary international team of researchers from the Netherlands, France, Brazil and United Kingdom. While I am spending the next few years answering these questions,

Her Science will function as a scientific logbook, field journal, memoir, and digital therapist from this woman in science to you.

This is a conceptual figure of the transition between the rainforest and savanna habitats in the Amazon.

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