Ada Lovelace Day: Celebration of Women in STEM

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Ada Lovelace Day: Celebration of Women in STEM

This year Ada Lovelace Day falls on 12 October. The aim of the day is to bring awareness to women in STEM and encourage girls to study STEM subjects. This is especially important to Don Whitley Scientific as several staff members are STEM ambassadors, so it is essential to continue inspiring the younger generation. Ada Lovelace was born Augusta Ada Byron, Lady Byron on 15 December 1815 in London [1]. The name Lovelace comes from her marriage to William King, who was made Earl of Lovelace, thus making Ada, Countess of Lovelace [1]. Ada was a mathematician and the first computer programmer; she also co-proposed a mechanical device with Charles Babbage [1]. Ada Lovelace Day also provides the opportunity to celebrate and raise awareness of other pioneering women in STEM [1].

Emmy Klieneberger-Nobel (1892-1985) is a notable woman in science [2]. She was a German Jewish microbiologist and the founder of Mycoplasma research [2]. This is a research area our contract laboratory regularly carries out work on for external customers [2]. Emmy became a bacteriologist at University of Frankfurt in 1922, but the rise of the Nazi party disrupted her career meaning she had to flee to the United Kingdom [2]. Despite this disruption, after moving to London, Emmy continued her microbiology studies and began researching Mycoplasmas [2]. She conducted further research on bacterial strains that lacked a cell wall, naming these “L-form bacteria” – an example of a paper she wrote on this can be found here [2].

Jane Hinton (1919-2003) was an African American microbiologist, whose father was also a microbiologist, so it was no surprise that she had an amazing talent in this field [3]. Most notably, she co-developed Mueller-Hinton agar, which is commonly used to isolate Neisseria, which causes gonorrhoea and meningococcal meningitis [4]. Mueller-Hinton agar has now become one of the gold-standards to be used in testing for antimicrobial resistance [4]. She was one of the first African American women to become a Doctor of Veterinary Medicine, which adds to the inspirational impact Jane has made and will continue to make on young women of colour [3].

Antibiotic studies have continued over the years, with other women microbiologists tackling the issue of resistance [2]. Abigail A. Saylers (1942-2013) helped establish the understanding of antibiotic resistance; a paper showing this can be seen here [2]. In addition, she was a major contributor to microbiome research, which is a research area our workstations are often used in [2]. She researched the link between colonic bacteria and their host, which could lead to progression in the treatment of diseases such as irritable bowel syndrome (IBS) [2]. In 1983, she helped establish women in science by becoming the first female tenured professor in microbiology in Illinois [2].

The impact these women, and many other women in STEM, have made is astronomical, and should be acknowledged and rewarded. Ada Lovelace Day provides a way of doing this, but the celebration of women in STEM should not be limited to one day a year – some people think it should be all year round.



References

  1. Ada Lovelace | Biography, Computer, & Facts [Internet]. Encyclopedia Britannica. 2021 [cited 7 October 2021]. Available from: https://www.britannica.com/biography/Ada-Lovelace
  2. Emmy Klieneberger-Nobel Biography | HowOld.co [Internet]. Howold.co. 2021 [cited 7 October 2021]. Available from: https://www.howold.co/person/emmy-klieneberger-nobel/biography
  3. Bastian H. Jane Hinton (1919-2003) • [Internet]. Blackpast.org. 2021 [cited 8 October 2021]. Available from: https://www.blackpast.org/african-american-history/jane-hinton-1919-2003
  4. People of Color in STEM: Jane Hinton - CO-WY AMP [Internet]. CO-WY AMP. 2021 [cited 7 October 2021]. Available from: https://cowyamp.colostate.edu/people-of-color-in-stem-jane-hinton/
  5. Abigail Salyers: 1942 - 2013 | Carl R. Woese Institute for Genomic Biology [Internet]. Igb.illinois.edu. 2021 [cited 7 October 2021]. Available from: https://www.igb.illinois.edu/article/abigail-salyers-1942-2013

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