Women in History Shout Out

“I threw it down pretty good,” Georgeann Wells said, laughing. “It was a powerful one, because I was all by myself. I had the speed, I had the endurance to get it up there. It was awesome.”

[Historic dunk]

(1964- ) Georgeann Wells was a women’s basketball player at West Virginia University.  In 1984, she became the first women in NCAA history to dunk a basketball.  This feat was noted by opposing player Sherry Winn when she said, “For so long, women played below the rim. We weren’t as fast, and we didn’t have the same dribble moves as men did. For women’s basketball, it was a great event. It was a mark of something else to come.” However, in a time when media capture was more limited, the event was virtually unknown to those outside of the 100 or so fans who attended.  The opposing team’s coach did have a video of the game but refused to turn it over to media.  Years after his death, his son released the tape, which in turn proved the dunk happened. Ms. Well is now a mother of three and runs a summer adventure camp. 

Sources: ESPN and WSJ

Congratulations to the YouTube Spacelab Winners

It is a global challenge to be innovative.  To be smart.  To be cutting edge. 


The reward?  A rarity among Ph.D. and M.D. scientists even.  Fly your experiment to the International Space Station.  This is no zero-g plane (an amazing opportunity in and of itself).  This is the real deal.  And then it’s beamed live onto YouTube.  Could this get any cooler?


It was so cool that even the NASA Deputy Administrator Lori Garver had to call the American winners and offer her thoughts.  


“I want to congratulate the winners of the YouTube Space Lab contest for their outstanding proposals. I am especially proud of the two winners from the United States, Dorothy Chen and Sara Ma, and look forward to seeing the results of their experiments after they are flown and conducted on the International Space Station during Expedition 32 and 33 this summer. Earlier today, I had a chance to speak with Dorothy and Sara to thank them for their hard work, and salute them on behalf of NASA.  As a national laboratory, our goal is to open up the space station to new paths for the exploration, discovery and economic development of space. Educating and inspiring the next generation of space explorers and scientists are among the most important things NASA can do, and these students are getting the opportunity of a lifetime. A contest like this taps into the passion of so many people who get involved, from the just over 2,000 students who submitted proposals to everyone who voted for them, and we want to encourage that passion and engagement.”


Now if that’s not a dream come true, I can hardly imagine what is!  Congratulations to Dorothy and Sara as well as Amr Mohamed for dreaming big.


For information about the contest and to see the proposals from the 60 finalists, visit YouTube Spacelab.

Women's History Month Shout Out

“By blood, I am an Albanian.  By citizenship, I am Indian.  As to my calling, I belong to the world.” – Mother Teresa

(1910-1997) Agnes Gonxha Bojaxhiu, better known as Mother Teresa, was a Roman Catholic nun from Albania who first traveled to India in 1931 when she taught school in Calcutta.  She founded the Missionaries of Charity in Calcutta, India in 1950, which has since become a worldwide beacon of caring for others. Her observations of the poor in India gave her the motivation to further her reach, and in 1979, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize.

Women's History Month Shout Out

I have spent many years of my life in opposition, and I rather like the role.” Eleanor Roosevelt

(1884-1962) Eleanor Roosevelt is most well known as former First Lady when her husband, Franklin Delano Roosevelt (FDR) was President of the United States.  She was a humanitarian and civic leader, and her work for the welfare of youth, African-Americans, the poor, and women spanned national and international reach. Even after the death of FDR, she became a delegate to the United Nations General Assembly, and in 1948, she wrote the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which affirmed life, liberty, and equality internationally for all people regardless of race, creed or color.  Additionally, she helped establish the state of Israel and attempted negotiations, while cautiously, with the Soviet Union (now Russia).

The White House: Women and the Economy

We are pleased to be able to bring you the latest news when it pertains to women.  Today, the White House released a report on the Administration’s committment towards women and furthering our reach in the economy.  Read the report below.  It’s very interesting! 


Office of the Press Secretary

White House Releases Report on Women and the Economy

Today, at the White House Forum on Women and the Economy, the President will discuss the importance of restoring the economic security for the middle class and creating an economy that’s built to last for America’s women. The President believes we must build an economy where everyone gets a fair shot, everyone pays their fair share, and everyone plays by the same set of rules. As part of today’s Forum the White House released a new report entitled Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward, The Key to an Economy Built to Last, which examines the ways in which the Administration has worked to ensure women’s economic security through all stages of life – from young women furthering their education and beginning their careers, to working women who create jobs and provide for their families, to seniors in retirement or getting ready for retirement. View the report HERE.

“As a father, one of the highlights of my day is asking my daughters about theirs. Their hopes and their futures are what drive me every day I step into the Oval Office,” said President Obama. “Every decision I make is all about making sure they and all our daughters and all our sons grow up in a country that gives them the chance to be anything they set their minds to; a country where more doors are open to them than were ever open to us.”

Today, more than ever, women are essential breadwinners in most American families. Yet women in our economy and our work force still aren’t getting a fair shake, earning just 77 cents on every dollar paid to men. Women now make up nearly 50% of our workforce, are a growing number of breadwinners in their families, and are the majority of students in our colleges and graduate schools. The President believes that expanding economic opportunities for women and ending discriminatory practices is critical to building an economy that restores security for middle class families, where hard work and responsibility are rewarded, and everyone who wants one can find a good job.

Highlights from the Keeping America’s Women Moving Forward report include an overview of how Administration policies impact women at every stage of their lives:

Yong Women Obtaining Higher Education and Beginning their Careers

Ø Of the additional 3.4 million students who have received Pell grants since the President took office, approximately 2.3 million are women.

Ø 9.4 million students and families have benefitted from the American Opportunity Tax Credit to help pay for college.

Ø 1.1 million women between the ages of 19 and 25 who would have been uninsured currently receive health coverage under a parent’s health insurance plan or through an individually purchased health insurance plan.

Ø Women and girls across America are benefiting from efforts to promote Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math, (STEM) degrees and careers because women who hold STEM degrees and jobs earn 30% more, on average, than women in non-STEM jobs.

Working Women Providing for their Families and Contributing to Economic Growth

Ø More than 16,000 Small Business Administration Loans totaling more than $4.5 billion were granted to women-owned small businesses.

Ø $62.5 million in monetary relief has been obtained for victims of sex-based wage discrimination by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission since January 2010.

Ø The Payroll tax cut provided an average of $1,000 of tax relief for nearly 75 million women.

Ø An estimated 4.9 million women were kept out of poverty in 2010 because of expansions in refundable tax credits such as the Earned Income Tax Credit and Child Tax Credit.

Ø An estimated 20.4 million women are benefiting from expanded access to preventive services such as mammograms, breast and cervical cancer screenings, and prenatal care at no additional cost.

Senior Women in Retirement and Preparing for Retirement

Ø 24.7 million women enrolled in Medicare received preventive services at no additional cost in 2011, including an annual wellness visit, a personalized prevention plan, mammograms, and bone mass measurement for women at risk of osteoporosis.

Ø More than 2 million women enrolled in Medicare who hit the donut hole saved $1.2 billion in 2011 due to improvements in prescription drug coverage.

Ø More than $13.6 billion in payments of $250 each were provided to seniors and veterans as part of the Recovery Act, a substantial percentage of which went to women.

Ø President Obama has committed to protecting Social Security for an estimated 30 million women beneficiaries.

The White House Women and the Economy Forum will address a wide range of Administration accomplishments while focusing on how critical women are to the nation’s economic success. Chair of the White House Council on Women and Girls Valerie Jarrett will deliver opening remarks and introduce a panel, moderated by Mika Brzezinski of MSNBC’s Morning Joe with Senior Administration Officials, private sector and academic leaders participating. Following the opening panel, the President will deliver remarks to an audience of entrepreneurs, academics, stakeholders, business leaders. Following the President’s remarks, Senior Administration Officials including Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius, Secretary of Labor Hilda Solis, Attorney General Eric Holder, as well as the Director of the Domestic Policy Council Cecilia Munoz, Executive Director of the White House Council on Women and Girls Tina Tchen and Katharine Abraham, Member of the Council of Economic Advisors, will lead a series of breakout sessions on a range of topics including: Women at Work, Education, Health, Women’s Entrepreneurship, and Violence Against Women and Girls.

View more about the White House Council on Women and Girls HERE.


Let's See What Girls Really Think!

During our Women’s History Month event recently, I had the opportunity to meet and present with Dr. Kamla Modi of the Girl Scout Research Institute. As I spoke with and listened to Dr. Modi, I was amazed at her poise and ability to capture an audience.  Her leadership skills were palpable, and I knew we would form a robust partnership towards the same goal-encouraging young girls to enter science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. 

So, I thought this would be a great way to showcase the lastest research from the Girl Scouts.  Here are some of their findings and a link to the report.  I hope you all read it because as I said at the conference, I fully believe to tackle the nation’s problems and push the boundaries of science and technology, we should tap into the market of young brains deeper than we do today and include the many young girls out there who may otherwise not pursue STEM careers.  And we believe Women@NASA’s first outreach program called NASA G.I.R.L.S. targets these findings so very well!  Dr. Modi is an example of what young girls can do when they put their minds to it-remember, anything is possible.  Never let anyone tell you otherwise!

Generation STEM: What Girls Say about Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math:

-A majority of today’s girls have a clear interest in STEM

-They don’t prioritize STEM fields when thinking about their future careers

-74 percent of teen girls are interested in STEM subjects

-82 percent see themselves as “smart enough to have a career in STEM.”

-Yet, few girls consider it their number-one career option with only 13 percent saying it’s their first choice

Read the full report here.

The Girl Scouts of the USA have incorporated science, technology, engineering, and mathematics as part of its hands-on, informal learning activities, but the findings in this recent report reinforce the importance of the Girl Scouts’ STEM initiatives. In October 2011, the Girl Scouts formed a new partnership with AT&T to advance underserved high-school girls in science and engineering through a $1 million AT&T Aspire contribution. The initiative, IMAGINE: Your STEM Future, aims to reach 6,000 young women this year and introduce them to the vast array of career options in STEM fields. The IMAGINE curriculum is designed to help high school girls imagine a future in a STEM career by experiencing science through interactive activities and visual experiments led by AT&T employees.

Generation STEM notes that the creative and hands-on aspects of STEM hold the most appeal. STEM-interested girls take an active, inquisitive approach to engaging in science, technology, engineering, and math: a high percentage like to solve problems (85%), build things and put things together (67%), do hands-on science projects (83%), and ask questions about how things work and find ways to answer these questions (80%).

“While we know that the majority of girls prefer a hands-on approach in STEM fields, we also know that girls are motivated to make the world a better place and to help people,” says Kamla Modi, PhD, research and outreach analyst, Girl Scout Research Institute. “Girls may not understand how STEM careers help people, or how their STEM interests can further their goals of helping people. Girl Scouts of the USA is committed to engaging girls in STEM activities and encouraging them to pursue STEM interests both in and outside the classroom, [in part] through program partnerships.”

Addressing another critical Generation STEM finding—just 46 percent of girls know a woman in a STEM career—Girl Scouts and the New York Academy of Sciences have partnered together to design and implement a STEM mentoring program for Girl Scouts, modeled after the academy’s current afterschool STEM mentoring program. The new curriculum will be adapted and scaled across more than 100 Girl Scout councils throughout the country. The program trains young women scientists to serve as role models and to bring high-quality, hands-on, informal science education opportunities to middle-school-age Girl Scouts.

To learn more about the current STEM initiatives underway in the Girl Scouts, visit here. To learn more about the findings of the Girl Scout Research Institute, read the full Generation STEM report. 

NASA DEVELOP: This Young Woman's Story

When I first spoke to Tharini Jeyaprakash, I could sense drive. Motivation. Perseverance.  We chatted a few times about the NASA DEVELOP program, which was new to me.  I did some research and before long, I knew we had to discuss it here at our blog.  True to my initial thoughts about Tharini, I needn’t worry.  She approached me with a post she thought worthy of Women@NASA’s blog.  And I definitely agreed. So here’s her story.  It’s one of science.  Learning. Leadership. And, most of all, growth.

Tharini Jeyaprakash is a recent graduate from the University of Cincinnati and is working as a researcher for NASA’s DEVELOP National Program. DEVELOP is a student-led, student-run research internship that utilizes NASA Earth Science measurements and predictions on projects that adress local, regional, national, and international concerns.  Project outcomes demonstrate the application and importance of NASA Earth observations in addressing environmental policy issues.  DEVELOP, under the Applied Sciences Program within the Science Mission Directorate at NASA, was recently acknowledged with NASA’s Group Achievement Award.

“During subsequent terms, I was given the responsibility of leading a project and eventually leading the program in Mobile, Alabama” Tharini said. “I provided direction and support for the program involving detailed planning. Project management and professional communication were a couple of the other responsibilities that I had. I also learned the art of making movies while directing a documentary video about the project.

“It was challenging, but the experience showed me what I am actually capable of and where my passion lies. It was my dream to be associated with NASA when I decided to study Geo Informatics in Engineering in India a few years ago,” she said. “It’s wonderful to see my dream come true and to be serving society at the same time.”

Tharini Jeyaprakash presenting the “Lake Victoria Water Resources” project at a close out session at the NASA John C. Stennis Space Center.

 According to Tharini, the program typically has a group of 3-8 students working on environmental research projects during each 10-week term.   

“We use NASA science measurements to address current issues and produce meaningful results to partners. The ‘Lake Victoria Water Resources’ is one such project that I worked on in which we partnered with NASA SERVIR and Lake Victoria Fisheries Organization to map invasive species in Lake Victoria, Africa, which is causing a lot of problems in three countries bordering the lake.  The methodology will be used to train the personnel to monitor and control these species. Through the NASA DEVELOP program, students get opportunities to develop their personal, research and leadership skills,” she said.

Tharini undertook several successful initiatives after taking leadership in Mobile that improved the quality of research by establishing partnerships with state agencies, universities, professionals, and NASA centers. She led the most recent project which developed an innovative methodology to use satellite data that will be adopted by Alabama Forestry Commission to predict pine beetle infestation that is costing the state millions of dollars in forestry damage. The project was well received by the partners and appreciated by the scientific community. She also initiated outreach activities to educate the communities about NASA DEVELOP. She directed a movie about the recent project as one of the initiatives that is featured on Earthzine, a contribution of the IEEE Committee on Earth Observation (ICEO) in support of the Group on Earth Observations (GEO) and its mission.

Jamie Favors, second from right, representing DEVELOP National Program Office, presents an achievement award signed by NASA Administrator Charles Bolden, Jr., to Dr. Bernard Eichold, Health Officer, and mentor of the Mobile DEVELOP program. On hand for the presentation were, from left, Mobile DEVELOP participants Marine Karepetyan of the University of South Alabama, University of Cincinnati alum Tharini Jeyaprakash, and Michael Brown of the University of South Alabama.

 “My mantra for success from high school through graduate studies has been ‘Aim big. Work hard. Stay focused. Reach your goal’,’” says Tharini, who aspires to have a career in Earth Science research. “It has been an incredible opportunity for me as a young professional to be associated with NASA and to gain understanding of complex environmental issues that impact a large number of people.”

The movie that Tharini directed can be viewed at here.

Congratulations to Ms. Tharini Jeyaprakash and the entire NASA DEVELOP team.  Best of luck from Women@NASA and may you achieve your dreams and inspire others to follow you.

Women in History Shout Out

“To be good, and do good, is the whole duty of man comprised in a few words.” – Abigail Smith Adams

(1744-1818) As wife of the first Vice President and later First Lady when John Adams became the nation’s second president, Mrs. Adams became a good friend to Mrs. Martha Washington and a valued help in official entertaining, drawing on her experience of courts and society abroad. Their son, John Quincy Adams, would later become the nation’s sixth president.  When Former President Adams was elected, Mrs. Adams continued a formal pattern of entertaining, despite the primitive conditions in new capital in November 1800. The President’s House was nowhere near completion, for example. Mrs. Adams died in 1818 and left a legacy as a patriot and First Lady, wife of one President and mother of another.

Source: White House

Women in History Shout Out

“Failure is impossible.” – E. Lillian Todd

(1865-1937) Miss E. Lillian Todd was a stenographer who was fascinated with aviation having lived during the era when the human race was beginning to learn how to take flight.  While none of her self-designed planes are known to have flown, she did exhibit one aircraft at the meeting of the Aeronautical Club of America in December of 1906. The aircraft was technically a glider since it did not contain an engine.  Miss Todd had no training in the use of tools or mechanics, yet she built the plane by herself. Her designs eventually received attention from Andrew Carnegie and Harry Guggenheim. 

Women in History Shout Out

“By the time I was 12, I was challenging every boy in our neighborhood at running, jumping, and everything related.” -Wilma Rudolph

(1940-1994) Wilma Rudolph was an Olympic track athlete who became the first American woman to win three gold medals in track and field. Ms. Rudolph was born prematurely with problems with her left leg, and consequently, she wore a brace.  With determination and physical therapy, she overcame her physical disabilities and became an Olympic star. Ms. Rudolph grew up in the South during days of segregation and attended an African-American high school where she played on the basketball team. As a naturally gifted runner, she was later recruited for the track team. While still in high school, Ms. Rudolph qualified for the 1956 Olympic Games in Melbourne, Australia. She became the youngest member of the U.S. team at the age of 16 and proceeded to win the bronze medal in the sprint relay event. Ms. Rudolph succumbed to brain cancer in 1994 at the young age of 54.