|Isotope Lab, Carnegie, 2007|
What others are saying about the Isotope Queen’s Blogs
“I always look forward to your next edition of your wonderful blogs. Your insight and superb writing always makes me think of something relevant in my career. Fortunately my health is good, but I have experienced many of the scenarios you so aptly describe relating to the inequalities of women in science. As a Career Development professional, I have coached many women in options to consider as the last 30+ years have been incredibly difficult for women to be successful in their scientific professional paths of their dreams. Some women chose to change career paths by identifying more "equality" in the academic route; others have found different career paths that use their scientific education. Thanks for your words of wisdom. I try to pass it on the next generation of scientists to consider the obstacles you encountered and try to figure out a way to shine!”
“As always, your blog is encouraging and uplifting. My life feels impossibly overwhelming and it’s hard to imagine a future in which things feel any better. I come to read your blog to be recharged once again. “
“You are the strongest person I know, and you haven't let ALS get you down. You keep looking to the future, and hold on to how you can continue to make a difference in the world. I want to be you when I grow up!”
“I'm so grateful you take the time to write these blogs and share the kindness, love, and support you advocate for and actively build in your family and academic communities. I am glad people can see what it's like to be not only a good academic, but person as a whole, through your writings and stories. It is such a joy to hear such a kind voice in what often is a swirl of negativity in ego driven-science. Your voice is a delightful light, and I'm thankful you share it. Cheers & many well-wishes from a PhD student from afar.”
“This was a wonderful reminder for how to greet every day. Wishing you all the best. Your posts have been a beautiful guide through how to find real success with people, in work, and in living mindfully.”
“I have yet to build a lab, but I took notes for when I do finally have a collection of students.”
“I needed to read this today. Thank you so much. I look forward to your blog posts very much. I think I relate a lot to your 30 year old self.”
“It was a joy to read about one of my heroes from another of my heroes. Sue hired me as a technician at the Univ. of Arkansas and still took the time to teach me to appreciate science even though I was majoring in German at that time. Sue sets a standard, no pun intended, that few can match.”
“Your blog made me chuckle and refresh all my cruise memories. Indeed, research expeditions have been one of the most exciting aspects of my career (and life).”
“Thank you for taking the time to jot down lessons learned for the rest of us. This and your other blog posts are so valuable.”
“Wow, lots of great advice in there. I also love the McDonald's talk! Not because I want to go around firing people, but these kinds of conversations can be so stressful - that that approach makes the point so simply and without drama.”
“Love the "McDonalds" talk. Tucking that idea in my back pocket for when I need it... Thanks for all the great advice!”
“This is very encouraging essay for young woman researchers and students in Japan. I introduced this essay with my Japanese twitter. I hope many Japanese young woman scientists realize that to be woman is not always disadvantage to be scientists.”
“Terrific essay! I’m going to spend the next day or two trying to imagine a scenario that would result in someone calling you a M-#*~@=€. “
“Such an incredible experience I had as a PhD student. Learned so much!! The science, the fun, and the support was amazing! Thank you Marilyn from inviting me to many discussions, meetings, field trips, to your lab and home!!! Such a productive time, and still lots of data to publish.... Thank you for remembering and sharing so many good memories!”
Through the Earth Science Women’s Network (ESWN) I learn about women’s struggles and challenges they face today. Frequently, they chronicle trying to negotiate the minefield of getting hired and promoted in a world where men still have the greatest sway. Childcare continues to be an issue, as well as maternity leave—or lack thereof. As has been the case around the world, the group is concerned with diversity, equity and inclusion work, something I have devoted some of my time to this past year. Several of the chapters in this book give my personal journey as equity advisor at UC Riverside.
Two years into writing a weekly blog about life, in particular life as a woman scientist, I decided to pull together the work that I have done on issues important to women. When I publish a blog, I post announcements to groups on Facebook as well as send an email to the stable isotope geochemistry listserve. The isotope geochemistry group is my most devoted readership, followed by a subset of women who are part of ESWN. I had tried about a year ago to have ESWN sponsor the publication of the Isotope Queen memoir, but the group didn’t have the necessary bandwidth to do so. I went ahead and self-published two versions of the memoir—one highlighting advice and the other chronicling my science adventures. As of this writing the two books in either eBook or paper form have reached over 600 readers. For an arcane topic such as stable isotope biogeochemistry, I call this a success.
There are several books about women scientists who made it (for example, The Door in the Dream), but not many about those of us who work day-by-day advancing our lives, often seemingly taking very small steps. I highlight the lives of several women who have enhanced my life—both scientifically and personally.
2020-2021 has also been impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic, which has disproportionately affected women, and has prompted me to write about how the pandemic has affected me. As a physically disabled person, having to switch to remote learning was a bonus for me. I was able to carry out my work as a “retired” professor via Zoom, an experience that would have probably not worked out for me otherwise. As the restrictions from the pandemic lift, I wonder how connected I will able to be.
I hope this collection of blog essays will serve as a fun and informative read for women of all ages—as well as men who want to know more.
Table of Contents
Setting the Stage: Discovering science as a child
Favorite Times: Going down the shore with Grandmom Hencinski
Favorite Times: 6th grade (1963-1964), the last year as a “kid”
Favorite Times: Junior Prom 1969
Advice for 20somethings
Favorite Times: Starting as a Young Scientist at Penn State
Standing out as a woman scientist
Branching out as a Postdoc at the Geophysical Lab
Early Years as a Female Geoscientist
People: Building Emotional Intelligence and Stamina
People: Meeting Chris Swarth and Building a Family
People: Lifelong Friend Franny Stein Kasen
Before the #Metoo era
Advice to my 30something self
People: Marjorie Imlay: Secretary and Assistant to the Director 1955-2008
Favorite Times: Motherhood and what you’ll learn
Favorite Times: Jug Bay Wetlands Sanctuary
Advice for 40 somethings
People: Noreen Tuross
People: Beverly Johnson and Roxane Bowden
Scientific Fieldwork: Is it for you?
Cruising for Science
People: Carmen Aguilar
Advice for folks in their 50s
Science (or Work) Mother
People: Sue Ziegler
People: Babes of Science: Liane Benning and Pamela Conrad
People: Valery Terwilliger--Can we really afford to lose this top scientist?
Personal Reflections: Religion and Science
People: Lisa Kourtis, a Remarkable “Ordinary” Woman
Although I am a Liberal, I am also a Patriot
Favorite Times: Thanksgiving
Favorite Times: Your Natal Home
People: Kate Freeman
People: Anat Shahar
Creating and Maintaining a Lab Group
Ideal Lab size
How big is too big?
Navigating Promotions, Reviews, and Tenure
The art of science supervision
Troubleshooting an Isotope Laboratory
People: Carolin Frank
Teaching the students I have—not the students I thought I would have
Harnessing your potential
People: Half measures never work—Maxine Singer
Hitting the glass ceiling—then breaking it
Ending a long career
People: My mother Florence Fogel at 93
Post Career Work: Diversity, Equity and Inclusion 2020
A sense of belonging—what keeps a scientist engaged?
Is “Science” neutral and objective? —A woman’s perspective
Challenging Time: The COVID-19 pandemic
Years of ALS (2016-2021) and Counting
A good situation is a bad situation. A bad situation is a good situation.