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
"Networking is important in building a career," says Frietsch.
"We want to prevent women from being inadvertently isolated
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
"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
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 http://www.scripps.edu/services/nwis/index.htm.
To join the list of those interested in NWiS organizational
work, e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.
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