My Story List

Join in the discovery of WiSEM by exploring the My Story databases. Celebrate the contributions of Rutgers’ outstanding female scientists. Explore careers in science, engineering, mathematics, and the health professions by taking a peek into the academic and life adventures of women faculty at Rutgers University.

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Areas of Interest: Synthesis and characterization of hybrid nanomaterials for new applications in the field of plasmonics and electronics. Preparation of bioconjugated nanomaterials for cell targeting, imaging and drug delivery, and for biodetection.
My Story: My introduction to the field of Nanotechnology was somewhat serendipitous. I started my PhD project with a completely different focus. I was synthesizing molecules that were supposed to be applied to the study of the mechanisms underlying electron transfer. After spending almost a year in the lab to finally find out that these molecules were not behaving as we had anticipated, I was feeling very discouraged about the outcome of my doctoral studies. But as it happens, my life had a new twist when my professor received a big grant in Nanotechnology. I was a first year graduate student when I...
Areas of Interest: Complex Systems, Conservation Biology/Conservation Medicine, Evolutionary and Behavioral Sociobiology.
My Story: I knew as a little kid that I really liked science, but I wasn’t sure which area interested me the most. For a little while, I thought it would be chemistry. I read a biography of Ellen Richards which really excited me. My parents were really great and supportive of me and actually hired a graduate student to come and teach me some basics in chemistry when I was ten years old. He was really into the material and was the best chemistry teacher I ever had. He was able to break down the material to the point where I was able to sit in on one of his lectures and understand most of what was being...
Areas of Interest: Anaerobic reductive dehalogenation, Dechlorination of dioxins and PCBs, Bioremediation, Bioenergy, Bioaerosols.
My Story: As a child I was always interested in nature. I grew up in a small town in Arkansas and later moved to the countryside, where there was forest all around our house. I spent most of my time outdoors exploring the pastures, steep hillsides and narrow valleys near our home. I disappeared for hours exploring woods, ponds, and springs and studying all their wild creatures. I took crackers to the woods and watched an army of ants carry the crumbs one by one up a large tree, I could tilt my head back and see their white bobbing trail disappear into the canopy. As a family we also spent a lot of time...
Areas of Interest: Molecular mechanisms underlying synaptic protein targeting and dendritic branching.
My Story: According to my parents, I’ve wanted to be a scientist since before I can remember. My parents sold our house in Huntington, Long Island to the inventor of the standard cell line used for biochemistry. All I can recall is their excitement: “We’re selling our house to a scientist! You’ve always wanted to be a scientist!” I can’t remember what precipitated this, but apparently, I have been interested in science since early on. Firestein, Bonnie L. B. Firestein working as a postdoc...
Areas of Interest: Infectious Diseases, Mosquito Control, and Evolutionary Ecology.
My Story: In eighth grade, I had a teacher who taught ecology and biology, two separate courses. He made us think and made class exceptionally interesting. In Portugal, we have to decide on an area of studies (Science vs. Humanities) before the beginning of ninth grade, so by age 13 I was already in the Science tract and knew that I would do something related to biological studies as a career. Of course, as is common in my country, I also began learning French and English in elementary school, and knowledge of multiple languages have enriched my life ever since. To start with, I wanted to be a...
Areas of Interest: Satellite Remote Sensing of Polar Regions, Air/Ice/Ocean Energy Transfer.
My Story: Francis, Jennifer A. Jennifer sailing in Belize with her family Mark Twain got it right when he said, "If you don't like the weather [in New England], wait a minute." Growing up in southeastern Massachusetts, I've always had a fascination with the wild and variable weather there. My dad had a lot to do with that. Whenever a whopping coastal storm (called a nor'easter) hit, he would pack us into the station wagon and drive to see the boats breaking loose in the harbor or monstrous...
Areas of Interest: CNS Neurons, Neurologic Diseases, Gila.
My Story: My interest in science came quite late, I was actually a big science avoider in college. I started as a music major at Oberlin College in Ohio and took all kinds of classes in everything but science. This may have had something to do with the fact that my father was a professor of chemistry and I was a bit rebellious. It all changed when it hit upon psychology in my junior year and became interested in brain function. I did a research project with the eminent neuroscientist, Dr. Patricia Goldman-Rakic. We studied the effects of lesions on brain function and memory in a part of the brain...