A Bit More About Mademoiselle Scientist + The Importance of Having a Science Community

This month I celebrated my 4th Blog Anniversary and I decided it was a great time for me to share a bit more me and why I started Mademoiselle Scientist . My name is Martina and I am a toxicologist, science communicator, and STEM education advocate. I started Mademoiselle Scientist as a way to share my journey as a woman in STEM and support the next generation of scientists. I am passionate about all things STEM: research, mentoring, education and outreach. I want to help scientists succeed, students excel and share information that I have learned along my journey. I see myself as a mentor sharing advice I wish I would have known when I was getting started in STEM.

Early in my journey, there were not many resources like we have today. I remember taking a Minorities in STEM Freshman Seminar Class at Penn State and that was the first time I saw a large group of students who looked like me that were aspiring scientists and engineers. A few years later I found myself surrounded by even more scientists and engineers at the National Society of Black Engineers National Convention. Now I am seeing an increasing number of scientists and engineers who are in leadership roles in higher education, science policy, research and science communication that as a freshman I did not see.

It is incredible to see science, education and research change, but it is also amazing that I have this platform. When I started my Mademoiselle Scientist I did not think that my experiences, the information I learned along the way and resources would turn into a science community. I just wanted a way to help scientists, especially college and underrepresented students learn that they too can become scientists and engineers.

Every day the science community is growing. When I started Mademoiselle Scientist there were only a few blogs out there. Out of the few blogs, I read there were not many blogs that shared information to help scientists, college students and those thinking about graduate school. Also, I did not see many blogs run by minorities or women in STEM. Today there is a platform for everyone.

A Few of My Favorite Blogs in the Science Community: (more…)

Black History Month Edition: My Experiences Participating in Research Training, Mentoring Programs & Science Organizations

In honor of Black History Month I was inspired to share my experiences participating in research training, mentoring programs and science organizations. I am grateful for all of my experiences and mentors that helped me become the woman in science that I am today. Coming from an inner city neighborhood and entering a big rural state university was like a dream. My main goal was to get a great education and learn as much as possible to prepare for a STEM career. Everything after that was an added bonus. I joined science organizations and reached out to science peers for support. For the first time I was able to see people in STEM that looked like me and I was determined to use the many resources that my university offered.

I participated in science programs such as the Women and Science and Engineering Orientation and the Minority Undergraduate Research Experience Program. These programs taught me the importance of leadership and strong mentoring.  I gained research experience, scientific knowledge and confidence that I could pursue a science career. This inspired me to use my science background not only to include research but include helping other scientists, especially underrepresented groups.

I encourage everyone to seek mentoring, the earlier the better. If you are looking for science mentors check out research training programs, mentoring programs and science organizations. There is a mentor for everyone. As a Gates Millennium Scholar (GMS) later I went on to become a mentor in the GMS program. Then when I entered graduate school I served on the Graduate Student Association to help first-year graduate students transition.

I am passionate about helping the next generations of scientists. STEM is challenging and fun, but rewarding. At times in the midst of progress I was faced with moments of negativity. There were people who told me that I did not belong and that I would not achieve my goals. I did not let their negativity stop me. I’m sure most of us have experienced negativity or felt alone in science at one point. Don’t let that stop you. Keep moving forward, pave the way and soon there will be others like you in your career. (more…)

What Does a Scientist Look Like?/Too Pretty to be a Scientist

A few months ago the Science Mentor told me about a new science blogger, La Cientifica. So I went on over to her blog and came across her post, Please Refrain. In this post she shared some of the crazy comments she gets as a woman in science. Here are some of the comments that stood out to me the most:

  • Come on angels.
  • Women live longer than men because they don’t work as hard.
  • The only intelligent woman I know is my wife.
  • You don’t dress like a scientist.
  • Do you plan on having a baby anytime soon?

I can say that I have heard these before. Have you? These comments are inappropriate,  disrespectful, and unprofessional. I remember reading a few articles about this topic and the Women in Astronomy (Is Science in the Eye of the Beholder?) and it does not make sense how common these questions get asked.

When did society make it okay for people to make rude comments to women in STEM? This is unacceptable and has to stop. As a Mademoiselle Scientist I should only be judged by the work that I do, not what I look like. Since I look young and dress stylishly I often get the comments like: “you look so young”, or “real scientists don’t care about how they look, this is not a fashion show” and sometimes I don’t get taken seriously. The last time I checked there is nothing wrong with being feminine or taking pride in my appearance.

Have you ever heard, “you don’t look like a scientist”? Or how about, “You are too pretty to be a scientist”? If so, this has to spot. Let’s come together change the narrative and make a chances so our voices will be heard that we are scientists. (more…)

Being a #BLACKandSTEM Woman Twitter Chat Reflection

Every Thursday #BLACKandSTEM has Twitter chats on various topics. On Thursday, October 30, I participated in their discussion about being a Black Woman in STEM. In case you missed the Twitter chat click here to find out more information.

Let’s get started with my reflection: (more…)

Mademoiselle Scientist Turns 1 Year Old: My 1st Blogiversary

1st Blogiversary MSToday Mademoiselle Scientist turns 1 Year Old. It’s my blogiversary! I cannot believe that a year ago today I published my first post. I started Mademoiselle Scientist as a way to support the next generation of scientists and to share my journey as a woman in STEM. Now, that I have had Mademoiselle Scientist for a year I have learned many things and am ready for what is next.

This month I am introducing a series called Spotlight on Science. It will highlight different science resources and information that is helpful to other scientists. If you want to check out my other series check out my Mademoiselle Scientist Birthdays or Recent Graduate Series. If you have any suggestions let me know.

Thank you for subscribing to Mademoiselle Scientist. I appreciate you and every comment I receive. I enjoy being a member of the science blogging community. I followed Ph.D. Comics for years and it made me laugh while I was in my Masters Program. A few years later I discovered The Thesis Whisperer and I emailed her about starting a science blog and she gave me great feedback. She was so helpful and I look forward to her posts. This platform is my place to share what I have learned through my STEM journey.

What type of posts are you looking forward to seeing? Comment below.

Thank you for your continued support!

Black History Month Edition of Mademoiselle Scientist: My Reflections as Black Woman in STEM

As Black History Month comes to an end and Women’s History Month begins I have spent some time reflecting. In my previous post, I did a spotlight about Dr. Jewel Plummer Cobb who is an African-American research scientist (Cell Biologist/Cell Physiologist) who made great contributions to cancer research. When Cobb entered graduate school there were few Black women in STEM. Now years later, we are still battling this problem. I’m often the only one in many spaces. How can we increase the number of minority women in STEM? What do we need to change?

One way is by having open conversations with each other, participating in forums, having sessions at conferences, developing curriculum for classrooms, hosting seminars at work or joining others online through Twitter Chats. Last month, The National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE) #AAWiSTEM hosted a Twitter chat about empowering African-American Women in STEM. This led to a dialogue of Black women scientists sharing challenges and lessons learned while navigating their STEM careers. 

After the chat I reread the American Association of University Women (AAUW) “Why so Few?”. This report addresses the reason behind this and provided solutions to increase more women and girls in STEM.  

In regards to the question, “Why so Few?”, how do we move forward? Here are my thoughts:

  • Making STEM accessible to all, especially underrepresented groups
  • Exposure to STEM at an early age both formal and informal
  • More research on the leaky pipeline problem
  • Encourage girls and women to pursue STEM fields
  • More mentoring and sponsorship opportunities
  • Have open conversations about challenges faced in STEM and develop solutions that are sustainable 


5 Tips for Women in STEM

Depending on your industry being one of a few women in STEM is common. If you are a woman of color this is even more common. As more diversity initiatives and programs that support women in STEM are being created we are starting to see more changes. This is why it is important for us to support each other.

5 Tips for Women in STEM:

1. Find a mentor:

Mentors provide guidance, advice and support throughout your STEM career. Finding a mentor takes time so be intentional in your search. If you are looking for a mentor, The National Research Mentoring Network (NRMN) has a large pool of virtual mentors in various disciplines.

2. Join a network for women in STEM:

There are many organizations such as, AWIS, SWE or AAUW and many discipline focused professional science societies that have special interest groups like Women in Science and Engineering. Join the #WomeninSTEM #WomeninScience #BlackWomeninSTEM conversations on Twitter and connect. (more…)

Welcome to Mademoiselle Scientist!

Mademoiselle Scientist is a digital platform that supports the next generation of scientists. Everyone has their own introduction to STEM, here is mine. I remember at an early age being excited about all things science. I enjoyed learning more about science every day. On the weekends I was often at my grandparents’ backyard chasing fireflies and reading the encyclopedia to learn more about the world around me. During the week I would tune into The Magic School Bus or Bill Nye the Science Guy and imagine how it would be to become a real scientist. The opportunity to make a change in the world, contribute to science and society further ignited my passion.

Unlike my peers I was always reading, exploring science and looking for ways to learn more about science which classified me as a nerd. Luckily my aunt who is an electrical engineer was there as my first role model; hearing her talk about her experience in STEM made me realize I could do the same. It was hard seeing fewer girls in my class who were not interested in science. I accepted it and as time passed I wondered why was this the case?

Fast forward years later, I realized that if I want to see this change I should do something. I read the American Association of University Women (AAUW)’s , Why So Few? Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics? Report and it opened my eyes to issues of why the number of women in STEM so low. 

My questions:

  • What can I do to change this?
  • What resources are out there?

Two of my earlier resources outside of the AAUW Report were The Thesis Whisperer and This Week in Virology, a research education and a virology blog, respectively. Theses blogs helped me discover my unique niche. A few days my I sister and I brainstormed some names and Mademoiselle Scientists was born. (more…)