New Campus Group Promotes Positive Change

By Mika Ono

There's a new group in town, and its name is Network for Women in Science at TSRI (NWiS).

The group is the brainchild of Lucy Stark, a fourth-year Chemistry graduate student in the Sorensen lab, who saw the need for a mentoring program for young women in science on campus. A few months after its first organizational meeting in January, the group can boast of funding from the Office of Graduate Studies, 14 elected officers, a set of bylaws, a faculty advisory committee of eight, a well-attended inaugural event, and a new web site.

"We've been busy," says Stark. "A lot of people have come together with enthusiasm to make this happen."

The goals of the group are to:

  • Provide support, guidance, and opportunity for female scientists at Scripps;
  • Create an awareness of issues that affect scientific career development and success;
  • Promote diversity at TSRI; and
  • Make a positive difference in the culture of science for the benefit of the entire scientific community.

Membership is open to any member of the Scripps community, male or female, who wants to help promote these goals. According to Stark, the group is action-oriented and aims to host three to four high-impact events per year. Graduate student Sabine Frietsch, who is a publicity officer for NwiS, adds, "We try to be proactive rather than complain. We hope to create an environment where everyone feels comfortable discussing anything."

At its first event in March, the group hosted a panel discussion, "Individual Obstacles and Breakthroughs in Career Development." Speakers were TSRI investigators Martha Fedor, Howard Fox, Nora Sarvetnick, and Sandra Schmid, as well as Peggy Eis, who is director of biochemistry for GeneOhm Sciences. The panelists spoke frankly about attitudes toward women in science, balancing a career and family life, and career path choices.

"It was an open panel event," says Stark. "No one knew in advance exactly what issues would be discussed. It was interesting for me to see that the problems of balancing work and family came up again and again. Communicating the need for change was another prominent issue."

In addition to organizing high profile events, NWiS will provide members with opportunities to network with prominent female scientists visiting campus. For example, in conjunction with the Department of Chemistry, the group invited Jackie Barton, professor at the California Institute of Technology, to speak at TSRI on September 19. NWiS will host a group luncheon with her.

"Networking is important in building a career," says Frietsch. "We want to prevent women from being inadvertently isolated from opportunities."

The group's most recent accomplishment is launching a web site that provides a wealth of information about the group's activities. Research Associate Holly Heaslet, who learned to use Frontpage for the occasion, designed the site, and graduate student Kiyomi Komori gets credit for the group's innovative logo.

"The web site will serve as a resource for NWiS members and others in the community who are interested in our group," Heaslet says. "It will help keep the members informed of upcoming meetings, events, and news relevant to women's issues, as well as providing links to other women's groups."

Future plans for the site include a page that will enable members to create forum topics and participate in discussions online.

NWiS invites anyone interested to join the general lunch meetings on the first Wednesday of every month in Beckman 5N. For more information on NWiS and upcoming events, visit the site at To join the list of those interested in NWiS organizational work, e-mail





Officers of the new Network for Women in Science at TSRI include: (left to right) Chitladda Mahanivong, secretary; Anne Bunner, vice chair, Lucy Stark, chair; and Suzanne Buck, also secretary. Photo by Kevin Fung.