Belmont University’s Department of Chemistry and Physics celebrated scientist Marie Curie’s 150th birthday with a Women in Science Symposium held Monday, November 6. The event, “Celebrating the Women of Physical Science” welcomed 50 local high school students, from 15 area high schools, who participated in lab tours, demonstrations and hands-on lab activities before Belmont faculty member Dr. Krista McBride led a short talk on the legacy of Curie’s life for the attendees and Belmont community.
Immediately after, Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross shared a keynote presentation, “With the Right Shoes, You Can Do Anything.” Iriarte-Gross is responsible for bringing Expanding Your Horizons (EYH), an international program bringing hands-on STEM experiences to girls, to Tennessee and is the recipient of the first American Chemical Society (ACS) Women Chemists Committee ChemLuminary Award for Most Innovative Recognition of Women in the Chemical Sciences.
Event organizer and Assistant Professor of Chemistry Education Dr. Danielle Garrett said the Department hosted the event as a way to highlight the continued underrepresentation of women in the physical sciences, make physical science more relatable and accessible to students and heighten publicity of Belmont’s science programs. Citing research that shows women receive more than 50% of bachelor’s degrees in biological sciences but only 39% in physical sciences (and the number decreases when considering chemistry and physics), Garrett and the rest of the Department’s STEM Outreach Committee are committed to emphasizing the importance of women in STEM fields.