Women in science

Interviewed by
Morgan Seag
Interview date
Location
Clemson, South Carolina
Abstract

Interview with Commander M.K. Baldwin, a retired commander in the Civil Engineer Corps in the US Navy and the first and only female winter-over Officer in Charge with Naval Support Force Antarctica. The interview begins with Baldwin discussing her childhood and her parents’ work as engineers. She recalls her decision to enroll at Clemson University for her undergraduate studies. Baldwin then recounts the path that led her to enlisting in the Navy, and she shares stories from training and life in the service. Baldwin describes her first tour in Guam, her move into the Civil Engineer Corps, and subsequent tour in Italy. She explains how each tour prepared her for her eventual experience in Antarctica and reflects on life as a Commander in the Antarctic. Baldwin concludes the interview with highlights from her time in Okinawa and DC, as well as the volunteering she has done with FEMA since her retirement. 

Interviewed by
Morgan Seag
Interview date
Location
Colorado State University
Abstract

Interview with Dr. Diana Wall, University Distinguished Professor and Professor of Biology at Colorado State University. The interview begins with Wall reflecting on her childhood in Kentucky, the importance of the Girl Scouts in her life, and her early appreciation for the outdoors. She discusses her undergraduate studies in biology and botany at the University of Kentucky and her decision to stay there to pursue a doctorate degree. Wall describes her research on microscopic animals living in soils as well as her thesis on nematodes. She then discusses her postdoctoral position at University of California, Riverside and her field work in Nevada, Utah, and New Mexico. Wall explains the factors that influenced her to begin her work in Antarctica and talks about the shift from individual work to a more collaborative research environment. The interview concludes with Wall’s reflections on international collaborations, the Antarctic Treaty, and climate change.

Interviewed by
Morgan Seag
Interview date
Location
University of Colorado, Boulder
Abstract

Interview with Dr. Diane McKnight, professor at the University of Colorado, Boulder, and currently program director for the Arctic Observing Network at the National Science Foundation. The interview begins with McKnight recounting her childhood with both parents having doctorate degrees, and she discusses the early science influences in her life. McKnight describes her decision to attend MIT for her undergraduate studies and subsequently her graduate studies in engineering, where she worked with Francois Morel. She discusses her engineering classes, campus life at MIT, and the challenges of being a woman in a male-dominated field. McKnight then recalls how her early career work at the US Geological Survey led to her work in Antarctica. She shares stories of life at McMurdo Station, meeting Al Gore, and working on the Palmer Station Long Term Ecological Research project (LTER). At the end of the interview, McKnight reflects on how this work influenced her life and what life has been like since.

Interviewed by
Morgan Seag
Interview date
Location
Lakewood, Colorado
Abstract

Interview with Kimberly Williams Mason, who is retired from the US Navy and served in Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica from 1977-1979. The interview begins with Mason’s childhood in Florida, where her father was in the Army and her mother was a nurse. Mason discusses her love of adventure and her decision to enlist in the US Navy where she first served as a postal clerk. She then describes the circumstances around being selected for Operation Deep Freeze in Antarctica. Mason reflects on the rustic camp life in Antarctica, the lack of training provided, and what it was like being one of the only women there. She shares stories of sorting and delivering mail, and she describes the hierarchy that existed among the scientists, officers, and enlisted. The interview concludes with Mason’s discussion of her assignment in Hawaii after Antarctica, as well as her current life in Denver after leaving military service.

Interviewed by
Morgan Seag
Interview date
Location
Lander, Wyoming
Abstract

Interview with Sarah Krall, who spent 30 seasons working in Antarctica in various different science support jobs. Krall discusses her childhood in Iowa and her undergraduate studies at Idaho State where she studied environmental science. She then describes her time working for the National Outdoor Leadership School (NOLS). Krall recounts her interest in working in Antarctica and her decision to apply to ITT Antarctic Services. She recalls her first position working at the Berg Field Center (BFC) and goes on to describe many of the various positions she held over the years, such as mountaineer, research assistant, helicopter scheduler, cook, and hovercraft operator. Krall shares stories about commune life and the atmosphere around camp over her many seasons in Antarctica. 

Interviewed by
Morgan Seag
Interview date
Location
Polar Rock Repository, Ohio State University
Abstract

Interview with Dr. Anne Grunow, Senior Research Scientist at the Byrd Polar and Climate Research Center and curator of the Center’s Polar Rock Repository at the Ohio State University. Grunow describes her childhood in Southern New Jersey where her father was a potato farmer and her mother was a schoolteacher. She recalls helping out on the farm throughout her childhood. Grunow discusses her initial enrollment at Lehigh University for her undergraduate studies and her eventual transfer to Wellesley College where she studied geology. She describes her summer internship at Chevron before beginning her graduate studies at Columbia University, studying with Ian Dalziel. Grunow talks about her time at Columbia University's Lamont-Doherty Geological Observatory and her field work in South America and Antarctica. She also reflects on being the only woman or first woman on many of her Antarctic expeditions. Grunow discusses her NATO post-doctoral fellowship at the University of Oxford as well as another post-doc that led her to Ohio State University. The interview concludes with Grunow’s involvement in the establishment of the Polar Rock Repository and her general reflections on how the field has changed over time.

Interviewed by
Morgan Seag
Interview date
Location
Jackson, Wyoming
Abstract

Interview with Rosemary Askin, a New Zealand geologist specializing in Antarctic palynology. The interview begins with Askin recounting her childhood in New Zealand where her father worked as a civil engineer. She discusses her undergraduate studies in geology and zoology at Victoria University of Wellington, where she was introduced to palynology which she decided to pursue for graduate study. Askin discusses how she developed her focus area of Antarctic geology and describes her field work there. She talks about her many areas of research such as fossil pollen and the evolution of spores. Askin also recalls the many challenges of being a woman in geology at the time, especially a woman wanting to work in Antarctica. She discusses her academic appointments over the years at Ohio State University, Colorado School of Mines, and University of California Riverside, as well as her time as a Fulbright scholar. Toward the end of the interview, Askin describes her more recent work establishing the US Polar Rock Repository at Ohio State, and she reflects on the changes she has observed in the field of Antarctic science over the years. 

Interviewed by
Jennifer Lentz
Interview date
Location
Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana
Abstract

Interview with Diane Kewley-Port, Professor Emeritus at Indiana University in the Speech and Hearing Department. Kewley-Port recounts her involvement in the Acoustical Society of America over the years, including serving as Chair of the Speech Technical Committee, member of the Executive Council, and Vice President. She describes her childhood in Cleveland and her early interest in science and engineering. Kewley-Port then discusses her undergrad and graduate years at University of Michigan, as well as the year she spent working in Denmark for a Danish computer company. She also talks about her time as a research assistant in the Neurocommunications Lab at Johns Hopkins, as well as at Haskins Laboratories, before pursuing her PhD at City University of New York. Kewley-Port reflects on how important ASA has been throughout her career, especially the mentorship and support she has received. 

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

Interview with Donna Strickland, professor of physics and astronomy at the University of Waterloo. Strickland describes the challenges of operating an experimental laser lab during the pandemic, and she recounts her childhood in Nova Scotia, her early interests in science, and her decision to pursue an engineering physics degree at McMaster. She discusses the early influence of Brian Garside and her immediate interest in CO2 lasers. Strickland describes her graduate research at the University of Rochester where she worked with Gérard Morou, whose lab was pursuing shorter laser pulses. She narrates the origins of the CPA laser idea and explains some of the technical challenges in designing the CPA system. Strickland discusses the opportunity to work at the NRC with Paul Corkum and then her subsequent position at Livermore before she joined a research group at Princeton. She describes securing her first full time faculty position at Waterloo and her interest in coherent control of molecules and why she enjoys two color lasers. Strickland describes her service work for the OSA, and she narrates how she never noticed the “buzz” leading up to the announcement that she won the Nobel Prize. She emphasizes the importance of Steve Williamson’s contributions to the CPA research and her post-Nobel work with the OSA on environmental measurement and modeling. At the end of the interview, Strickland emphasizes the importance of luck in her career, she reviews the broader applications of CPA lasers, and she conveys her interest in quantum entanglement which she hopes to pursue when her schedule allows.

Interviewed by
David Zierler
Interview date
Location
Video conference
Abstract

In this interview, Marcia McNutt discusses: current position as President of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) in Washington, D.C.; mission, history, and structure of the NAS; NAS’s work on climate change and COVID-19; experience as a geophysicist; partnering with the National Academies of Engineering and Medicine; childhood in Minnesota; decision to study geophysics; graduate research at Scripps Institution of Oceanography; research on ocean island volcanism in French Polynesia and Hawaii; early use of magnetometers, gravity meters, and seismometers in oceanic plate tectonic observation; development of techniques to take gravity, bathymetry, or topography data on continent and use them in inversion to learn about topography; work directing Monterey Bay Aquarium Research Institute (MBARI); time at US Geological Survey (USGS) under Ken Salazar; professorship at MIT and collaboration with Woods Hole; details of leading an oceanographic expedition in the Marquesas Islands; spearheading structural change at MBARI; MBARI-created autonomous device to identify microscopic ocean life without samples; MBARI-invented deep-sea laser Raman spectrometer; being the first organization to put AI on autonomous underwater vehicles to map plumes; response to the Deepwater Horizon spill; fracking; the National Water Census; decision to become editor-in-chief of Science; procedures as editor; career evolution; becoming president of NAS; transition from the Obama to Trump administrations; opinions on geo-engineering; Decadal survey; Koshland Science Museum and LabX; efforts to nominate and elect younger scientists and underrepresented minorities to the Academy; making recommendations to Congress; collaborations with the private sector; communication with the public; and the 2018 Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine’s report on sexual harassment in academia. Toward the end of the interview, McNutt reflects on her career as both scientist and leader and the importance of integrity in research.