Skip to main content

Scientists mentor female science fair winners

Girls tour Biodesign Institute lab at ASU.
May 24, 2012

To better understand career paths in science, girls who placed among the top winners at the Arizona Science and Engineering Fair this spring were recently rewarded with a day of shadowing female scientists at Arizona State University.

The Hands-on Science Day at the university was part of a collaborative effort between ASU researchers who are members of the Association for Women in Science Central Arizona Chapter. Participants interviewed scientists and learned about a wide variety of subjects and disciplines, including immunology, various areas of microbiology, geochemistry, engineering of solar cells, organismal biology and the moon. Most importantly, they were able to see how women in science are strong in number and not limited to any specific discipline.

“Women who have gone through many struggles to get to where they are in a scientific career owe it to fellow women to teach, empower and help them as much as possible,” says Negin Blattman, an ASU Biodesign Institute scientist who volunteered to mentor the girls during their visit. “Spending time with the girls reminded me of how new and exotic science appears from the outside and how amazing it was when I figured out it was something that I could do.”

Susan Holechek, a postdoctoral research associate at the institute who also volunteered at the event, found the interaction rewarding. “One of the parents emailed me and mentioned that I am a role model for their daughter,” she says. “That is just something you don't hear every day.”

Although only a select group of girls was invited to participate, the daylong event was a success. “When I took the students to meet their parents at the end of the day, they wouldn't stop talking about all of the amazing things they had seen and done,” says Hands-on Science Day organizer Karla Moeller, a doctoral student in ASU’s School of Life Sciences and vice president of the AWIS Central Arizona Chapter.

In addition to Blattman, Holechek and Moeller, other scientist hosts from ASU included: event co-organizer Debra Page Baluch, Joe Blattman, Rosa Krajmalnik-Brown, Anca Degado, Jessica Ebie, Gwyneth Gordon, Shelley Haydel, Bertram Jacobs, Jingjing Li, Megan McAfee, Lydia Meador, Dani Moore, Kiona Ogle, Lillian Rose Ostrach, Caitlin Otto, Clint Penick and Elizabeth Steenbergen. Other volunteers included Sandy Leander and Pauline Davies.

More information about the Association for Women in Science is available at