Girls of TED Talks: Angela Zhang’s nanoparticle is changing cancer treatment

Do you love TED Talks? So do I. Today’s post is a continuation of our Girls of TED Talks series, which focuses on young girls who have presented at TED events around the world with their inspiring ideas. Angela Zhang was taught one key thing: break a big question down into smaller, more manageable pieces in order to answer it. Taking this wisdom from her father, 17-year-old Angela set out to revolutionize cancer treatment. Working with her chemistry teacher, Angela undertook an advanced research project to mix cancer medicine with polymers. The result was a nanoparticle that can attach...

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STEM Girls: Jocelyn Bell Burnell

Jocelyn Bell Burnell is a Northern Irish astrophysicist who has been credited with one of the greatest astronomical discoveries of the 20th century. She had a tough time at college, being the only woman in a class of 49 men. She said in an interview in the Belfast Telegraph, “…that when a female walked into a lecture theatre all the guys stamped and whistled and called and banged the desk.” As a PhD student she played a key role in the discovery of the first pulsars. Pulsars are the signals released from rapidly spinning neutron stars. Neutron stars are collapsed stars that are too small to...

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The Women Codebreakers of Bletchley Park

For years, the efforts of thousands of codebreakers working in small huts in the grounds of a large mansion somewhere in Buckinghamshire was kept as one of the biggest secrets of the Second World War. The most famous figure is the great Alan Turing. Without him, the ‘bombe’ machine would not exist and the Allies would have remained unable to read German Naval messages. Yet, it seems to have gone largely unnoticed that 80% of the 9,000 staff working at Bletchley Park were, in fact, women. These women were clever in their own right, and worked just as tirelessly to crack the German Enigma...

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STEM Girls: Peggy Whitson

This year Peggy Whitson made history in three different ways. First she became the oldest woman to fly into space. Second, she became the first woman to command the International Space Center twice. And third, she broke the record for the amount of time spent in space by a U.S. astronaut. Peggy earned her bachelor’s degree in biology and chemistry from Iowa Wesleyan College. She then earned her doctorate degree in biochemistry from Rice University. After spending time there as a Postdoctoral fellow, she began working at the Johnson Space Center in Houston. Peggy held a variety of...

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STEM Girls: South African School Girls

May 2017 will see South Africa will launch the first private satellite into space from Africa. The fact that a group of school girls are responsible is even more historic. Cape Peninsula University of Technology are responsible for this historic feat. They are trying to encourage more women to enter the field of STEM and so satellite engineers from the university have trained the group of 14 students. The payloads that the girls have designed and built that will scan Africa’s surface. It will gather information on agriculture and also on food security. The aim is to establish as well...

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STEM Girls: Margaret Guo

In October, Margaret Guo was named the NCAA Woman of the Year. The award was in recognition of her accomplishments not only in the swimming pool but for her academic work as well. She is the first MIT student to win this award. Margaret graduated with dual degrees in electrical engineering and computer science and biological engineering. While working on her degrees she also competed on the school’s swimming team. Her events were the 200 freestyle relay, 400 freestyle relay, 200 medley relay and the 400 medley relay. Working on dual degrees and competing in athletics was a challenge for...

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STEM Girls: Stephanie Wilson

A few weeks ago we featured the first African-American woman in space – Mae Jemison. It is often the case that the person who is first to achieve something is the person who gets all the plaudits and the second person becomes a footnote in history. In the case of the second African-American woman to travel into space this is a shame, as Stephanie Wilson has had an incredible career. Stephanie was born in Boston and her education was always focused on science. One of her assignments while in school was to interview a person who had an interesting career. Her choice was an astronomer. While at...

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STEM Girls: Debyani Chakravarty

Debyani grew up in a family in which education was incredibly important. Her goal initially was to become a doctor but some wise words from her grandmother gave her pause for thought. Her grandmother said to her that “if you’re going to do research, do it so that you can help those who are suffering.” Debyani decided to get her doctorate in biochemistry and molecular biology. Debyani is now a cancer biologist at Memorial Sloan Kettering where her role involves her finding the irregularities in human DNA which causes cancer and then propose the drug that can target the cause. As an Indian...

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STEM Girls: Mae Jemison

Mae Jemison has been making history throughout her career. She was not only the first African-American woman to be an astronaut but she was also the first African-American woman to be sent into space. Mae’s interest in science began at an early age and it continued throughout her education earning a National Achievement Scholarship to study chemical engineering at Stanford University. Mae went on to get her doctorate in medicine from Cornell University. Her career initially focused on medicine, she was a general practitioner before joining the Peace Corps where she visited Sierra Leone and...

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STEM Girls: Dr. Beth A. Brown

Beth grew up in Virginia, and from a young age had an interest in science, especially in astronomy. She was her class valedictorian when she graduated in 1987 from high school and she went on to study astrophysics at Howard University in Washington DC. She earned her Master’s in Astronomy from the University of Michigan and made history in 1998 when she became the first African-American woman to earn a PhD from the university’s Department of Astronomy. In 2001 Beth held a National Academy of Science and National Research Council Postdoctoral Research Fellowship at NASA’s Goddard Space Flight...

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