Over the years, women have played an integral role in Science. Though it has been an interesting journey acquiring appropriate and accurate recognition, society has made huge strides in acknowledging the importance of women in Science. Today, February 11, 2021 is International Day of Women and Girls in Science, where the world celebrates what women have done and what girls will do in the field of SCIENCE!
GiSTEM had the pleasure of interviewing 3 incredible women in the field of science. We know that being a female in the field comes with many challenges but it is worth it when it aligns with your passion. Whether you have attended school to pursue your career or gained experience through non-traditional means, if science is your passion you are more than capable. We are excited to introduce to you these powerful women with inspiring stories and life-changing advice that we know will impact the next generation of women.
Chelsea Burnett - There’s more than one route to YOUR goal!
"Women offer a totally different perspective on everything, including the science field. The more women that are present in STEM, the bigger difference we can all make,” said Chelsea Burnett, a storm chaser at Texas Storm Chasers. She described that her connection with storm chasing started long before working with Texas Chasers. Growing up in Oklahoma, Burnett was in the heart of tornado alley. She would wake up late at night to watch the lightning storms from her bedroom window.
Burnett’s childhood passion for storms led her to pursue a degree in Meteorology at University of Oklahoma. Although her passion for storms was unmatched, Burnett was unable to complete that degree because Mathematics was difficult for her. It is expected that you will wonder how she was able to achieve her goal? Well, the story continues. She obtained an A.S. in General Business at Collin College and a B.S. in Business at University of North Texas. Burnett’s passion for Mother Nature, especially her fascination with severe weather positioned her at the right place at the perfect time. She met the owner of Texas Storm Chasers at a local weather event and the rest was history! Don't we just love alignment?
Chelsea Burnett, Storm Chaser
Texas Storm Chasers
Since 2011, Burnett has helped to grow the social media platforms of the Texas Storm Chasers to offer better weather presentation content. She captures the raw, honest and real footage during storm chasing - can you say AWE-SOME! Outside of storm chasing, Burnett has a list of hobbies including hiking, landscaping and lifestyle photography. She is the mother of a spunky 8-year-old son and is married. But here’s the kicker, her husband is a storm chaser with Illinois Storm Chasers!
Burnett was able to overcome the disappointment of not completing the Meteorology degree by pursuing her education in an alternative way. She stated that if she could she would have told her younger self to "keep trucking at that math and hire a tutor! There is more than one way to go about life, and to not worry about what others think or say." Burnett expressed that she is very grateful for her experiences, her journey has led her to witness 27 tornadoes and counting! Her advice to the next generation of women is to surround themselves with as many influential people in their field of interest. “Always keep learning through reading, YouTube videos, hands-on experimenting … and to continually believe in yourself even on the hard days when you feel like giving up!"
Bria Carlisle - YOU can be just like me!
“We are important in the field of science because we bring a different perspective” said Bria Carlisle, Biologist/Virologist at American Type Cell Culture Collection (ATCC). Carlisle has had a successful career working in various laboratories from molecular clinical diagnostics to pharmaceutical. From obtaining her B.S. in Biology with an emphasis in Microbiology to M.S. in Biomedical Science, she has performed various test methods from microbiology to performing immunoassays on drugs going through clinical trials. Interesting right? Well, this can be YOU!
Carlisle’s department makes viruses for clients to assist with research, development of vaccination, and clinical diagnostic purposes. In her role, she grows and produces a variety of viruses in vitro in animal cells and embryonic chicken eggs. She develops different techniques to ensure that cells continue to grow healthy and studies the viruses' cytopathic effects within cells. She also performs nucleic acid extractions to elute RNA and/ or DNA to provide controls for clinical diagnostic testing. “I love that everyday at work I learn something new and I am able to challenge myself,” said Carlisle.
Bria Carlisle, Senior Biologist/Virologist and Adjunct Professor
American Type Cell Culture Collection (ATCC) and John Tyler Community College (JTCC)
With awesomeness comes responsibility, isn't that the saying? Well, that is nothing to Carlisle. She manages her department’s laboratory by ordering lab supplies, reagents, technology, and keeping up with inventory. She also communicates with specialists and vendors to introduce and consider new technology that could be implemented into their procedures.
When asked why women are important in science, she stated, “Women are the backbone of the field of science and it is important for us to continue to show that we are able to accomplish anything we put our mind to.” Carlisle highlighted Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett, a woman that was very instrumental in the Moderna vaccine research for COVID-19. “In the field of science, women only make up approximately 20% of the field. However, within the field we have made extraordinary accomplishments,” said Carlisle. She has goals to one day work with the government to closely monitor and study epidemics.
Carlisle is not only a virologist but she is an adjunct professor at John Tyler Community College (JTCC) where she teaches Microbiology. Her role at JTCC and past experiences gave her the ability to teach from a different aspect. While teaching students, she is able to provide insight about the different opportunities within the field. “For girls that want to pursue science, I say go above and beyond in your studies, stay focused, and do not doubt yourself. Science is a field that has an abundance of opportunities and they need girls like us.”
Alexa Genalo - To be where YOU want to be!
“A career in science is not something that happens overnight. It requires time and effort. Do not be discouraged if you are not where you want to be. Always keep your goals in sight and continue to push forward.” Amazing words from Alex Genalo, Forensic Scientist Trainee at Virginia Department of Forensic Science (VA DFS). She works within the Toxicology section analyzing bodily fluids and tissues for the presence of alcohol, drugs, and other poisons - now that is COOL!
In Genalo’s role at VA DFS, she handles evidence in addition to performing alcohol, immunoassay, and CO analyses. Additionally, her functions require her to prepare standards, reagents and Certificates of Analysis (CoAs) based on the results. “Our analyses aid both Medical Examiners and Law Enforcement Officials in death investigations, DUI/D investigations, sexual assault investigations, and overdose/possession investigations,” said Genalo. She explained that her workload is dependent upon the amount of evidence that is received and the amount of testing that needs to be completed. “I love everything about my job! I enjoy being a lab-rat and think that the work we do is really cool. I am surrounded by a group of intelligent, hard-working individuals who make work fun, and I am constantly learning,” said Genalo. She is able to provide assistance to other Scientists and Toxicologists as needed.
Alexa Genalo, Forensic Scientist Trainee
Virginia Department of Forensic Science (VA DFS)
Genalo’s background is nothing short of amazing. Being a proud alumna of George Mason University Forensic Science Program, she received her B.S. in Forensic Science with a minor in Chemistry, and M.S. in Forensic Science with a concentration in Forensic Chemistry Analysis. Her journey from being a Graduate Teaching Assistant, to acting as an undergraduate advisor to being an Adjunct Professor for the Forensic Science Program, reveals how easy it is to see she is where she wants to be. “I am beyond grateful to be working in the field I want to be in, doing exactly what I want to do.” After completing her training, Genalo will transition from a trainee to a Forensic Scientist. How exciting is that?
Becoming a Forensic Scientist is ultimately Genalo’s goal, however, she was able to achieve something that wasn’t exactly part of the plan. She was able to present her research at the 2019 American Academy of Forensic Science Annual Scientific Meeting in Baltimore, MD. “I had applied to present my research at the last minute … when I received the notification that I would be giving a 15 minute oral presentation, I was beyond shocked (and also slightly terrified).” She described the 15 minutes as a “blur” but hopes that the next time she presents her research she can enjoy being on stage.
Genalo believes that girls learning the sciences need someone to look up to show it is possible to do what they love. She encourages girls to take advantage of opportunities to get experience in any capacity, i.e. internships, part-time jobs, or specialized courses, etc. “These experiences will provide you exposure to the realities of your field, and you may just find your passion in the process. I am grateful for the influential women in my academic and professional career that have acted as mentors for me, and I hope that one day I’m able to do the same.”
Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science! Special thanks to our guests for sharing their powerful stories with us. Please share, comment, and like this blog!
In honor of International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Our GiSTEM Science T-shirts are on sale for $15.00 for the remainder of the month! Head over to our shop and support us in changing the lives of girls in our community. As always, we appreciate your support!