In celebration of International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, The University of Winnipeg is proud of the work being done locally and globally to empower women to pursue STEM education and careers.
Throughout the year, we share many stories celebrating the achievements of women and girls in science. It makes us proud to share stories of students such as Kaitlyn Hanson, Nathalie Turenne, and Sidney Leggett, who all say the connections they made during their studies have set them up for success.
After studying bioanthropology with Dr. Yadira Chinique de Armas, Kaitlyn Hanson (BSc, Hons2021) jumped at the chance to be a part of her research team, an experience that helped prepare her for medical school.
Working alongside Chinique de Armas, she had the opportunity to contribute to a study that led to a new, innovative approach to understanding ancient infant feeding behavior.
Their study, published in the peer-reviewed, open access journal PLOS One, explores the potential of combining different isotope systems from a range of tissues to improve resolution when reconstructing breastfeeding and weaning practices in archaeology. It provides new clues to understand the potential implications of breastfeeding and weaning practices on infant and childhood mortality.
“I gained invaluable research skills including critical thinking, data analysis, and collaborating with researchers from different countries,” she said. “This experience has motivated me to do more research in the medical and health sciences field.”
If you told Nathalie Turenne seven years ago that she’d be working with the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA), she wouldn’t have believed it.
Everything changed when she met Professor Dr. Ed Cloutis, Department of Geography, after her second-year mineralogy class and learned about his research lab – the Centre for Terrestrial and Planetary Exploration – on campus.
“I didn’t know what he did at the time,” Turenne recalled, before laughing. “He asked if I was interested in working in his lab, and I said ‘yes!’”
This led to an opportunity for her to work with NASA as the SuperCam instrument rep on the Mars Perseverance rover.
“I did some training and operation readiness tests,” she recalled. “Then a couple of weeks before the landing, NASA sent an email with a list of people in operations working during the landing and my name was there. I couldn’t believe it.”
Turenne now has two roles with the rover: Science Payload Uplink Lead, where she chooses rock targets and works with engineers that day to uplink the activities, and Campaign Implementation Lead, where she plans the rover’s activities in advance.
“The biggest highlight for me so far has been being able to see images from Mars and seeing all the potential science that can be done,” she said.
Sidney Leggett is completing a Bachelor of Science in Applied Computer Science. During her time at UWinnipeg, she’s served as treasurer and built the website for the University’s Chapter of the Canadian Region of AISES (.cAISES), a campus group for Indigenous students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
In 2020, she was one of four students across Canada to be welcomed into the Arthur B. McDonald Canadian Astrophysics Research Institute’s 2020 cross-disciplinary internship program, a unique opportunity that provides non-physics majors with $10,000 in funding to participate in astroparticle physics research.
Leggett first realized her passion, and aptitude, for research while working alongside Dr. Melanie Martin in UWinnipeg’s Pathway to Graduate Studies (P2GS) program in 2019.
“It was a huge boost to my resume getting to take part in P2GS, especially because it was my first research experience and my first chance to work with a physicist,” said Leggett. “I was scared I wouldn’t be able to do it, but it ended up working out extremely well.”
She’s also been a Pathways to Graduate Studies (P2GS) scholar and instructor. P2GS prepares participants for senior undergraduate and graduate studies science courses and research while connecting with students of similar backgrounds and interests to form a network that includes graduate students and faculty.
International Day of Women and Girls in Science takes place every year on February 11. Join the conversation by following the hashtags #WomeninScienceDay, #GirlsNeedRoleModels, and #WomenInSTEM.