Mina Rees

Thanks to Amy Shell-Gellasch, who emailed to share her book about mathematician Mina Rees.



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Patricia Schmit

Patricia Schmit

Thanks to Bill Messer who sent this story.

Bill says:  this was emailed to me by a friend who lives in Hamilton, MT. Hamilton is a small town in the Bitteroot Valley, western MT, but it is also home to Rocky Mountain Labs, one of the most high-power super-dangerous pathogen labs in the world, much of the US Ebola work is done there. Anyhow, the story is about a high school student whose colorization of an electron micrograph made the cover of the Journal of Clinical Investigation, but also about how her grandmother was one of the few electron microscopists in the US during WWII, a grandma got STEM kinda story.

Check out the full story here.

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Henrietta Leavitt


Thank you to Pangratios Papacosta, Professor of Physics at Columbia College Chicago, who suggested two women in Astronomy he says contributed much to science, despite gender discrimination.

Papacosta brings our attention to Henrietta Leavitt, whose 1908 discovery of using Cepheid stars to measure long distances to stars and galaxies was the key that enabled Hubble and others to make monumental discoveries about our universe.  He spent 8 years doing work on H. Leavitt and shared some of this work in an article “Nobel Prize for a “Computer” named Henrietta Leavitt (1868–1921)” in the January 2005 issue of STATUS, a report on women in Astronomy.


With colleagues in the film department of his college Papacosta produced a 17-minute documentary on Leavitt that was shown at a number of International Astronomy conferences including an International Conference on the History of Physics at Cambridge University last September.  You can view the video here.

Papacosta’s other GGSTEM contribution is about Dorrit Hoffleit.

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Dorrit Hoffleit

Status_Hoffleit_2Thank you to Pangratios Papacosta, Professor of Physics at Columbia College Chicago, who suggested two women in Astronomy he says contributed much to science, despite gender discrimination. Papacosta say he was very fortunate to have met one of them who at the age of 100 was still doing astronomy at Yale. “She is Dorrit Hoffleit and I had the honor of interviewing her for an article I wrote about her and her contributions as well as the gender battles she had to fight. She inspired hundreds of young ladies who came to an astronomy summer camp that Dorrit was running at the Nantucket’s Maria Mitchell Observatory. Of the 102 girls who spent summer there 20 became professional astronomers.”

Status_Hoffleit_1Please see his article  Dorrit Hoffliet: From four-leaf clovers to variable stars that was published in the January 2006 issue of STATUS, a report on women in Astronomy.  Papacosta’s other GGSTEM post is about Henrietta Leavitt.

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Della Bell


Connecting from Generation to Generation:
Testimonies of Perseverance

Thank you to Dr. Jacqueline Brannon Giles, who contributed this post.

Those who love to study often find themselves alone, with their subject, paper, pen or computer. In order to reach excellence, you sometimes have to separate yourself from others and focus on the content of your subject matter, especially if the subject is science, technology, engineering and technology. These areas are called STEM professions and the percentage of African American men and women still is a concern at the national level because many students fail to persist and to navigate their way to advanced degrees in the STEM professions.

For years, Dr. Della Bell has been instrumental in encouraging women and minorities in STEM, especially in mathematics. She is a longtime member of NAM, NCTM and MAA. She recently lost her husband Albert and they were married 46 years. Her daughter is a medical doctor and her son is an engineer with an MBA in finance from Duke University.

Dr. Della Bell and I have been having luncheon meetings for several months, and now we have decided to include a few other young scholars to interview us and to engage in honest conversations about our journey as educators and mathematicians. Our first mentee is Seneca Dunmore, a doctoral student in Educational Administration at Texas Southern University. Seneca is a scholar, and she has traveled all over the world serving others and honing her skills in administration, communications and motivational speaking. Seneca’s bachelors degree was earned at Tuskegee where she majored in Biology.   The picture above has Seneca on the left, Dr. Bell in the middle and Dr. Giles on the right.

If you hear Seneca’s testimony you hear a young woman who is determined to achieve excellence and to contribute to society. She has overcome many obstacles, including medical and social challenges. I was so inspired by her testimony that I encouraged her to meet Dr. Della Bell, who, too, is a scholarly, determined and a powerful professional who has been blessed with a balanced life, including a marriage of 46 years.

The goal of our meeting was to connect with the next generation of scholars and to share how connectivity and collaboration enhance and accelerate the achievement of great goals.

During our meeting we discussed our collaboration to implement a Calculus Reform project co-administered by West Point (United States Military Academy). An opportunity to express gratitude and to share intricate details of how we negotiated the powerful project was illuminating to the young scholar.

We left the meeting with a sense of accomplishment. We decided to have sessions like the one we had on December 12, 2015, at IHOP, in order to impart the knowledge and inspiration that may help to accelerate the achievements of the next generation.  The Hebrew phrase “l dor v dor” means from generation to generation. Indeed, connecting from generation to generation can help to encourage perseverance to achieve heights that are farther advanced than the previous generation.

I believe this approach will be foundational, dense and connected to help promote and support the aspiring scholars of the future.

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Margaret Knight

Thanks to Barry Yeoman, who pointed out “an amazing story (audio) about


a technology pioneer who would not be intimidated by intellectual-property thieves: Margaret Knight, owner of Patent No. 116,842.”

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Susan Wu

ERC, Inc., Chairman Dr. Susan Wu of Huntsville. Wu
was named one of Caltech’s alumni of the year for
Thank you to mathemagician Art Benjamin, who submitted this GGSTEM post:
Born in Beijing, China in 1932, Dr.  Ying-chu Lin (Susan) Wu went to Taiwan with her family in 1947 starting 8th grade then moved to the USA in 1957 on a scholarship to study aerospace engineering at Ohio State University, earning her Masters Degree in 1959. This was followed by an Amelia Earhart Scholarship at Caltech, where she became the first woman at Caltech to earn a PhD in Aeronautics, in 1963. Dr. Wu did research in magnetohydrodynamics propulsion, combining Maxwell’s equations with fluid dynamics. She taught at the University of Tennessee Spacie Institute in Tullahoma, Tennessee until 1988. In 1987, she started her own company, ERC, which now has over 800 employees, focusing on does engineering research and development, consulting,  and testing in aerospace technology.
Dr. Wu adds:
Starting a company was not my original wish or desire but became my last resort to work in aerospace after finishing my degree in Aerospace in 1963. In 1962, one year before I finished my Ph. D. from Caltech I received devastating news – I had a hole between my atria which had to be repaired. When I was looking for job before graduation, the only requirement which I had was providing my open heart surgery. Unfortunately that was almost impossible because my heart was a “pre-existing condition” which was excluded from insurance! Finally I found a job in Pasadena at Electro – Optical Systems, Inc. to work on “magnetohydrodynamics” which would pay for my surgery. I knew nothing about this subject matter, but to save my life I’d work on anything!
Talking about desperation, I knew what it was like! I was a mother of two young boys and one year before finished my degree then came the bomb! At that time I was not worried about my degree but my two toddler sons, Ernie (born in 1960) and Albert (born in 1961). I was very scared if I did not make the operation. Open heart surgery was quite new in the early 1960’s. I had surgery in 1964 at Los Angeles. Thank God I survived!
When I turned 55, I took early retirement from the University of Tennessee Space Institute located in Tullahoma, Tennessee and started my own aerospace company. That was the only way I could return back to aerospace because I had never touched aerospace since graduation till then. No one would hire an entry level aerospace engineer who had never worked in aerospace other than a degree over 20 years earlier. Finally I decided to start my company and hire myself. This would not solve my problem of getting back to aerospace. After some soul searching I decided start from artificial intelligence  to analyze data for NASA Space Shuttle. We could do it much faster, consequently cheaper. From there I could gradually get back into aerospace.
As I aged my broken heart did not forget me. I started having difficulties. In 1988 I had a minor stroke. Now I wear a pacemaker (my third one) to keep my heart pumping. My eldest son, Ernie is running my company and I enjoy retirement life and grand kids.
Wu_ERC voyager
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