Celebrating Women in Science: #SheInspiresMe

The Laurentian Chapter of SETAC recently started a new committee: the Women in Science Committee (WISC). The committee aims to highlight women’s achievements, raise awareness of gender disparity in science and create mentorship opportunities for both female and male young scientists.

In celebration of International Women’s Day, volunteers from the WISC did a little writing exercise: we wrote about a woman in science that inspires us. The rules were simple: it had to be a woman in science. Kudos to these amazing women!

– Submitted by Ève Gilroy, Oana Birceanu, Joel Nichols, Alison Fraser, Yamini Gopalapillai, and Natalie Feisthauer

 

Ève Gilroy, Small-business Owner and Toxicologist, Burlington

#SheInspiresMe: Patty Gillis, Research Scientist, Burlington

I met Patty Gillis in the early 2000s. She was pregnant with her third child, while pursuing her PhD studies. I admired her spunk. Fortunately, we crossed paths several times in the next fifteen years. Patty is now a well-established Research Scientist at Environment Canada in Burlington.

What inspires me about Patty is that she is a friendly, down to earth and enthusiastic scientist. On several occasions, we talked about Women in Science, and how women’s paths as Mothers and Women in Science can be more complex and sinuous than that of their male counterparts. Working with Patty means not having to explain complicated schedules and having to plan around school drop-off/pick-up or sick children. She gets it, she’s been there (and still is to some degree!). She understands the duality of these two extraordinary, fulfilling roles, and that when it comes down to it, Family comes first, and Science sometimes just has to wait.

 

Oana Birceanu, Postdoctoral Fellow, Wilfrid Laurier University

#SheInspiresMe: Dr. Deborah MacLatchy and Dr. Allison McDonald, Wilfrid Laurier University

I have had the pleasure of meeting a great deal of inspirational women in science, both as a graduate student and as a postdoctoral fellow. However, when asked “Who do you look up to?”, only two names jump at me right away:

Dr. Deborah MacLatchy, Wilfrid Laurier University – Professor, Provost and Vice-President: Academic. Without a doubt, she is an inspiration to me because she is a presence, in both the scientific community, in the laboratory and to her students. She was part of my M.Sc. committee and always had great advice. I felt that my success mattered to her and it made me want to do more with my career.

Dr. Allison McDonald, Wilfrid Laurier University – Associate Professor. Where do I start? Allison is a great supporter of things that really matter to students and young, aspiring postdocs. She is a parent, an advocate for mental health and for women in science. Allison loves to teach, both in the laboratory and in the classroom, and she is an inspiration to her students, which is something that I learned from them even before I knew her. Somehow, she does it all and does it well! How can one not be inspired?

 

Joel Nichols, Senior Risk Assessment Specialist, Kitchener

#SheInspiresMe: Dr. Jennifer Kirk, Senior Risk Assessment Specialist and Division Manager, Kitchener.

I am typically inspired the most by people I know personally, who are experts in their field, who continue to push progress through adversity and practice leadership by example. Dr. Jennifer Kirk is one of these people. Jennifer obtained her B.Sc. and Ph.D. at the University of Guelph with a focus on Environmental Microbiology and Toxicology, and is currently a Senior Risk Assessment Specialist and Division Manager for an engineering firm located in Southern Ontario. A wife and mother of two, Jennifer always finds balance between busy work and home schedules which I consider motivational as a parent. Jennifer is also a cancer survivor, and has shown a quiet strength during and after her treatments by maintaining a positive attitude and unwavering work ethic. Throughout her career, Jennifer has continued to explore and apply current scientific ideas and approaches in the areas of risk assessment and toxicology. She is an inspiration to those who have the benefit of knowing her.

 

Alison Fraser, Risk Assessment Specialist, Cambridge

#SheInspiresMe: Dr. Wendy Hillwalker, Toxicologist, Manila, Philippines

Wendy Hillwalker is a female scientist that I have come to know over the past several years. Not only is Wendy a highly respected toxicologist, and a member of the SETAC Board of Directors, but she takes the time to mentor others in SETAC. I have worked with Wendy on a few SETAC projects and her professionalism and dedication are to be admired. In addition, her considerate and caring nature make her a female scientist that both men and women can look up to, as well as rely upon, for guidance in the scientific community.

 

Yamini Gopalapillai, Posdoctoral Fellow, University of Guelph

#SheInspiresMe: Dr. Beverley Hale, Professor and Associate Dean, University of Guelph

Dr. Beverley Hale, my PhD advisor and current boss, inspires me because she makes successful leadership look simple – but she achieves it through hard work, kindness, and effective communication.

 

Natalie Feisthauer, Land Resource Scientist, Agriculture and Agri-Food Canada, Guelph

#SheInspiresMe: “The “Trimates”: Drs. Jane Goodall, Dian Fossey, and Birutė Galdikas

These are three women in science that I have never met that have inspired me since I was a child. Their work, groundbreaking and conducted in far-off exotic places, fired my imagination that I, as a little girl, could do anything if I set my mind to it. The hurdles they faced and the sacrifices they made never crossed my mind as I watched TV shows or read National Geographic magazines about their work with chimpanzees in Tanzania, mountain gorillas in Rwanda and orangutans in Indonesia; I was just awestruck by the work they did and the ingenuity with which they did it. Their fierce, life-long dedication to their research, and to our shared stewardship responsibilities to our planet and all the species that inhabit it, continues to inspire me to live up to my full potential as a scientist and as a person.