Tag Archives: Women’s History Month

Women in Science and Engineering

Women in Science and Engineering: Tunable Laser Inventor Mary Spaeth

One of the most accomplished engineers I have had the privilege of interviewing was Mary L. Spaeth, a specialist in the field of laser optics.

Spaeth was a pioneer who discovered the world’s first “tunable” laser.

While researching ruby lasers at Hughes Aircraft Corp., Spaeth “came to believe that dyes would make excellent lasers.” Dyes are strongly colored chemicals that can be used to add color to a material, such as hair or cloth.

The year was 1966, only six years after the first laser was invented. Continue reading

Women in Robotics: Challenges and Progress

Julie Adams, Electrical engineering and computer science professor at Vanderbilt University

Electrical engineering and computer science professor Julie Adams along with students Sean Hayes, right, Mark Bailey, left, Electa Baker and Caroline Harriott, center, work with their remote control robots outside the Student Life Center. (John Russell/Vanderbilt University)

Robotics is one of the fastest growing fields in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and women have benefited from that growth. Over the past three decades, women in robotics have faced challenges, but at the same time, have seen encouraging progress.

“Around the time I entered graduate school in the early 90s, the number of females going into PhD programs in robotics showed a big step up, and I was part of that,” said Julie Adams, associate professor of computer science and computer engineering at Vanderbilt University.

At that time, Adams was one of only three women of the 30 to 35 students in the general robotics, automation, sensing & perception (GRASP) laboratory at the University of Pennsylvania, and one of the first to graduate with a PhD. Continue reading

GMU professor’s “Nanoparticle Net” may detect early cancer, Lyme disease

Women in Science and EngineeringAlessandra Luchini, a Ph.D. and assistant professor at George Mason University, has helped to invent a “nanoparticle trap” which allows scientists to detect unhealthy cells much sooner than before. When found early, cancer and other diseases are easier to treat, giving patients a better chance for survival.

Recently, Luchini gave a lecture on “Nanotechnology in Biomedicine” as part of Mason’s Vision Series at the Hylton Performing Arts Center in Manassas, Virginia. Continue reading

Women in Science and Engineering: Environmental Problem Solver Leslie Guth

Women in Science and EngineeringIn this fourth and final post celebrating Women’s History Month, I will highlight another AT&T scientist who I was privileged to cover early in my career as a writer. Though I worked in Media Relations at AT&T Bell Laboratories from 1987 to 1990, I did not meet Leslie Guth until after I had left the Labs to begin freelancing.

Then, in 1991, I interviewed her for an article in Woman Engineer magazine. Guth had arrived at the Bell Labs Engineering Research Center in 1984, fresh from earning her Ph.D. in Materials Science and Engineering Continue reading

Women in Science and Engineering: Fiber Optics Expert Suzanne R. Nagel

Women in Science and EngineeringIn honor of Women’s History Month, this is the third in a series of posts on some of the accomplished women scientists and engineers I have had the privilege of interacting with throughout my career. Back in 1986, I interviewed almost a dozen women working in fields related to lasers for an article in Lasers & Applications magazine.

Today I focus on another of these women, Suzanne R. Nagel, an engineer at AT&T Bell Laboratories in the area of fiber optics.

Suzanne R. Nagel, Ph.D.

Suzanne R. Nagel, Ph.D.

Without her, you wouldn’t be reading this online. No, she didn’t invent the internet. But she helped make it possible to create the first transoceanic fiber optic cable, leading to today’s high-speed data transmission that makes our world-wide internet service possible. Continue reading