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: Racial Minority Health & Identity and How Adherence to Gender Norms Affects Psychological Health and Intimate Relationships.
My Story: I have always been pro-women’s rights and ready to change the status quo to make it a more welcoming place for women and minorities. In high school, I was known as a feminist and as a person you wouldn’t tell certain jokes around because I took the experience of disadvantaged groups seriously. I challenged people’s views especially when it came to stereotyping and discrimination. I think this is due to the fact that I am part of an interracial family—a Puerto Rican father and Slovakian mother—and my mother was very politically active. She taught her children that the status quo disadvantaged...
Areas of Interest: Land Change Science, Biogeography, Latin America, Remote Sensing and Geographic Information Systems.
My Story: Going into science was an endeavor that was always very natural to me since high school. I was doing really well in science and math, and it just seemed the right path to take. My high school biology teacher, who captured my attention with her passion for her work, kindled my love for biology. I thought biology was complicated, but she managed to make complexity look very straight forward and extremely fascinating at the same time, and that’s when her passion became my passion too. For my parents, it was always essential that my brothers and sister went to college. My father was a high school...
Areas of Interest: Osteoporosis, Obesity, Metabolism, Biochemistry.
My Story: Shapses, Sue A. S. Shapses hard at work! Science was always a really important in my family growing up. We didn’t realize it at the time; it was never overtly emphasized. My father had a very strong and enthusiastic personality and he was able to instill in all of us a great appreciation for science. He would tell us scary medical stories at night - sometimes they were so creepy I would stop listening and go to bed. Other people had ghost stories; we had medical history stories. It...
Areas of Interest: Visual motion perception, visual object recognition, perception-action coupling, autism, pedestrian visibility, visual detection of intention.
My Story: When I first started studying science, I was interested in animal behavior. One time while I was doing animal research out in the field, I was bit by a squirrel. The squirrel latched onto my thumb and it was hard to pry him off. I think that experience had a lot to do with me going into the lab. This was another happenstance event that led me to where I am today. Sometimes it all feels like a fluke: I was good in school so my mom pushed me to go to college; I took Pre-Med classes but I didn't like them; I took a Psychology class to fill a general requirement and fell in love with the topic....
Areas of Interest: Paloeceanography, Marine Organic Geochemistry.
My Story: Sikes, Elisabeth Liz getting into ALVIN, 1982. I’ve always been a water rat. Some of my fondest earlier memories are of the times spent at my grandmother’s house, on her dock at the lake. Summers were for swimming, fishing, canoeing, being with the water. I learned from my grandmother, a master birder and naturalist, the names of the fish, the names of the plants, and the names of the birds. The enduring lesson in that was how to look at a bird carefully enough to identify it. I...
Areas of Interest: Evolutionary history, diversity, and biogeography of angiosperms, especially gentians (Gentianaceae) and relatives; floral anatomy and development; ethnobotany, conservation of plant biodiversity; tropical biogeography.
My Story: Struwe, Lena L. Struwe taking a photograph of a lily, 1986 I grew up in a Swedish family obsessed with the outdoors. We were not like our neighbors at all. My dad worked as a physician before he retired. My mom is an artist who was home with us until we were school age, and then she went on and got a chemistry degree and worked for a pharmaceutical company. But it was not my parents’ careers that defined our family. I have two younger siblings, a brother and sister, and an extended...