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10 Fascinating talks by brilliant women in STEM: A Women's Day special

10 Fascinating talks by brilliant women in STEM: A Women's Day special

Can a mathematician help you find your true love? How did a little girl, fascinated by the wonders of the night sky, grow up to be an award-winning astrophysicist? Can a computer scientist possibly teach a computer to understand pictures? The answers to all these intriguing questions lie in 10 short, fascinating videos that are a must-watch for every academic.

March 8 is International Women’s Day, a day dedicated to celebrating the accomplishments and progress made by women in different spheres of life. What better way to celebrate Women’s Day than to commemorate a few extraordinary women scientists who, with their persistence and determination, have contributed significantly to the advancement of their field.

We have compiled a collection of 10 enthralling TEDx talks by remarkable women in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). Each of these inspiring women scientists will take you through the exciting world of her work and how she sought out to pursue her passion. Here’s our list of must-watch talks for you:

1. Dr. Hannah Fry (@FryRsquared)

Dr. Hannah Fry is a mathematician and a senior lecturer at UCL’s Centre for Advanced Spatial Analysis. Her work revolves around the “mathematical modelling of complex social and economic systems.” At this captivating talk in 2014, Dr. Fry addresses what she calls “the mathematics of love.” In addition to giving you plenty of reasons to chuckle, this witty mathematician also gives you the inside scoop on her “top three mathematically verifiable tips for love” and finding the perfect partner.

What can a mathematician tell you about finding true love?


2. Cynthia Breazeal (@cynthiabreazeal)

Dr. Cynthia Breazeal is an Associate Professor of Media Arts and Sciences at MIT (Massachusetts Institute of Technology). She also founded and directs the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab. She works towards developing principles and technologies for personal robots that are socially intelligent, i.e., those that can interact and communicate with people in human-centric terms. At this talk back in 2010, Dr. Breazeal shares that she has been fascinated by the idea of personal robots ever since she watched the movie “Star Wars” as a child. She also talks about building Kismet, the world’s first social robot and the promising benefits of having personal robots in our very homes.

Can a robot help you stick to your diet and exercise routine?


3. Jedidah Isler (@JedidahIslerPhD)

Jedidah Isler studies supermassive, hyperactive black holes called blazars. This award-winning astrophysicist says that her first love was the night sky. At this thrilling talk in 2015, she passionately spoke about feeling privileged to study “some of the most exotic objects in the universe” and shared some of the wondrous characteristics of these galactic bodies.

From falling in love with the night sky to studying the exotic wonders of the universe 


4. Bonnie Bassler (@bonniebassler)

Bonnie Bassler teaches molecular biology at Princeton University and is a Howard Hughes Medical Institute Investigator. Her work focuses on the molecular mechanisms used by bacteria that enable them to “talk” to one another. And this is precisely what Bassler addressed at this fascinating talk in 2009. She also explained that this discovery of bacteria possessing social behaviours can have amazing implications on the medicine and healthcare fronts.

Did you know that the bacteria on our bodies talk to each other?


5. Dr. Fei-Fei Li (@drfeifei)

Dr. Fei-Fei Li is an Associate Professor in the Computer Science Department at Stanford University. As the Director of the Stanford Artificial Intelligence Lab and the Stanford Vision Lab, Dr. Li’s research interests include machine learning, computer vision and cognitive and computational neuroscience. In 2015, at this interesting talk, she described the impressive progress her team was making in their research towards teaching computers how to understand pictures.

How did a computer scientist teach a computer to understand pictures?


6. Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn (@TelomereEffect)

Molecular biologist, Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn was jointly awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 2009 for discovering the molecular nature of telomeres. In this interesting talk in 2017, Dr. Blackburn discussed “the science of cells that never get old.” In addition to delivering a detailed explanation of why humans age, she also broached the possibility of us having more control over how our bodies age than we might think.

Do humans have control over the aging process?


7. Dr. Nadine Burke Harris (@DrBurkeHarris)

Dr. Nadine Burke Harris is a pediatrician and the founder and CEO of The Center for Youth Wellness. In an enlightening talk in 2014, she explained that repeated exposure to severe stress such as living in abusive or neglectful conditions, or “growing up with a parent who struggles with mental illness or substance dependence” has real, tangible effects on the development of a child’s brain. Recognizing that “early adversity dramatically affects health across a lifetime,” she urges the “health establishment to reexamine its relationship to social risk factors.”

Can childhood trauma influence the risk of diseases in adulthood?


8. Cassidy Williams (@cassidoo)

Cassidy Williams  presently leads Developer Voice Programs at Amazon in Seattle. Back in 2014, when she gave this inspiring talk, she was an Iowa State University Computer Science major and had just accepted her first full-time job. Through this talk, Cassidy shares her exciting, adventurous story of “growing up in STEM.” Urging other women in STEM to pursue their passions, she said that “anyone can do all kinds of amazing things if you find something you’re passionate about.”

Can you build a career by combining all the things you’re passionate about?


9. Keren Elazari (@k3r3n3):

Keren Elazari is a cybersecurity expert, strategic analyst, and a senior researcher at the Blavatnik Interdisciplinary Cyber Research Centre, Tel Aviv University. At this riveting talk in 2014, Keren Elazari expressed that the world needs hackers and even called them “the immune system for the information age.” In an interesting twist, she said that by finding hidden threats and exposing vulnerabilities, hackers actually force us to improve and evolve.

Is it possible that the world needs hackers?


10. Nancy Kanwisher (@mcgovernmit)

Nancy Kanwisher teaches cognitive neuroscience at MIT and studies the human brain using a brain imaging technique known as fMRI. At this engaging talk in 2014, she shared that along with her colleagues, she had managed to map distinct sites in the brain for very specific cognitive functions such as face recognition and thinking about another person’s thoughts. Nancy Kanwisher passionately believes that understanding the fundamental mechanisms that underlie human experience is “the greatest scientific quest of all time.”

Ever wondered how you are able to recognize faces?

So, are you feeling inspired already? There’s something exceptional to learn from each one of these inspiring women in science. We do hope that the next generation of female scientists carries forward this strong legacy of remarkable women in STEM. 

Happy Women's Day!

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