Northern Chapter of the New Mexico Network for Women in Science and Engineering

AUGUST 1997 NEWSLETTER (a quasi-periodical)

CONTENTS: ---------













NOTE FROM THE EDITOR --------------------

Errors are the sole fault of the editor, J. Tinka Gammel, who can be contacted to complain at 667-9149, or jtg@lanl.gov.

The August 1997 issue follows on the May 1997 Issue. Back issues should be available on the LAWIS home page.

I am sending only electronic newsletters to those who email addresses I have who have not requested hardcopy explicitly. Please let me know if you prefer to get it in hardcopy format, or if you prefer not to receive this newsletter.

"There is something interesting about science. One gets such wholesale returns of conjecture out of such a trifling investment of fact." -Mark Twain in "Life on the Mississippi"

BOARD MEMBERS -------------

1996-97 LAWIS board members:

Acting President - Carol LaDelfe, cladelfe@lanl.gov

Vice President - Margo Clark, jmclark@lanl.gov

Secretary - Ginger Young, ginger@kc.trail.com

Treasurer - Trish Wright, pwright@lanl.gov

Newsletter Editor - Tinka Gammel, jtg@lanl.gov

EYH Chair - Joyce Guzik, joy@lanl.gov

Membership - Carol LaDelfe, cladelfe@lanl.gov

Members-at-large - Amy Anderson, aeanderson@lanl.gov -
Libby Jones, jones_elizabeth_a@lanl.gov

PRESIDENT'S MESSAGE -------------------

Happy Summer to Members and Friends of Los Alamos Women in Science! I enjoyed seeing many of you at the annual picnic.

Our next big event in Northern Chapter is election of our FY 1998 Officers and Steering Committee. The Nominating Committee will be searching for candidates and I know that we have many potential leaders within our membership. We will be looking for candidates for President, Vice-President, Secretary, and Treasurer, as well as candidates to replace 5 of our 10 Steering Committee members.

Then comes the annual meeting. I hope all of you have received or have seen a copy of the "Call for Papers" and that many of you are planning to present a paper to the membership at our meeting in Las Cruces in mid October. Even if you aren't planning to present a paper, please plan to attend, as it is a networking opportunity without equal for women scientists in New Mexico.

Last, but not least, I want to thank Tinka Gammel for her efforts -- and successes -- in providing us with stimulating noon-time programs on a regular basis. We have more of them to look forward to, and I hope many of you can take the time to join us in learning and discussing wide-ranging topics.

Carol LaDelfe August 1997

NMNWSE ANNUAL MEETING / CALL FOR PAPERS ---------------------------------------

The NMNWSE 1997 Annual Meeting will be in Las Cruces this year, Oct. 17-19. For more information see the NMNWSE web page at http://ladmac.lanl.gov/nmnwse/nmnwse.html, or contact dede Collins, dede@lanl.gov. The purpose of the Symposium is to provide a forum for women in New Mexico, to share their work through presentations and technical discussions in a safe, friendly environment, to promote career development, and to conduct the business of the Network. Abstracts of 200 words or less for the technical presentations (20 minutes or less) should be submitted by August 29, 1997 to NMNWSE/Karen Saenz, 2909 Hopi Trail, Alamogordo, NM 88310 (saenzk@wsmr.army.com). All topics and fields are welcome. Your participation is essential to the success of the symposium.

NOTES FROM THE LAWIS PICNIC ---------------------------

While attendance was not as great as we hoped, the weather and food were! It was a lot of fun seeing old friends and meeting new people -- there was even someone foolish enough to volunteer to give one of the lunch-talks ("next spring"....). Having a vegetarian entree was greatly appreciated by those who choose not to eat meat, and so I recommend we make this a permanent feature of the picnic.

Suggestions for next year's picnic are always welcome, and can be given to any board member. The next general get-together is tentatively a winter party in December or January. I hope to see you there!

NOTES FROM THE LAWIS LUNCH TALKS --------------------------------

We had an animated crowd for Michelle Thomsen's very interesting talk about "Space Weather" on May 20. I was happy to see several new faces. Michelle said a good starting point to understand what "Space Weather" means is the web site http://www.nas.edu/ssb/what.html I checked this out and I agree with Michelle: very informative! Michelle is happy to answer any questions you might have about space weather. For those of you without web access, my summary (so blame me, not Michelle, for errors) of her talk: "Space weather is the phenomena occurring in the highly ionized region of space affected by the solar wind and the magnetic fields of the earth -- typically in, but not restricted to, the magnetosphere. Space weather focuses on phenomena around the earth, but similar conditions are of course expected around any planet with magnetic fields. Space weather -- "space fog", "space thunderstorms", "space tornados", etc (various levels of electromagnetic activity such as aurora and radio disturbances) -- is of concern because (a) geosynchronous satellites orbit in the most dynamic part of the magnetosphere (b) ionic storms affect local communications (c) currents in oil pipelines can be caused by space weather, leading to greater rates of corrosion (d) cosmic radiation reaching earth is affected by space weather, arguably with biologic implications (the last in response to a question). We already know that since solar flares causing space weather are correlated with sunspot activity, there is a 22 yr cycle (the sunspot cycle actually is twice the 11 yr number one usually hears cited.) Also, the sun shows the same face to the earth every 27 days, leading to a 27 day period in space weather disturbances. The military estimates the effect of space weather in terms of disrupted communications, false alarms on spy satellites, etc, costs the US a half billion dollars a year. There is now a multiagency program being started to enable prediction of space weather in 10 yrs."

As several people had expressed an interest in hearing the presentations given at past Expanding Your Horizons (EYH) workshops, besides Michelle's "Space Weather" talk I was able to "arm twist" several of the DNA presenters (Kieran Cloud, Tracy Ruscetti, Susan Bailey, Sue Thompson, and Carolyn Bell-Prince) into agreeing to give brief versions of their EYH talks to LAWIS on June 18. We had to make do without without any DNA samples to take home -- but that didn't prevent us from walking out with our own! Unfortunately I had no desire to work with messy living things when in school (I stuck with nice, clean, controllable math and theoretical physics), so Susan Bailey, who presented at EYH and was scheduled to speak to LAWIS but had a last minute conflict, directed me to an excellent web site with a primer on Molecular genetics: http://www.bis.med.jhmi.edu/Dan/DOE/intro.html I checked it out and it seems quite readable: a good introduction including glossary if you are interested in learning a bit about the genome project. In Carolyn Bell-Prince's part of the presentation she showed pictures of the chromosomes of various animals. I had always thought that the chromosomes of most animals are roughly the same size, and that "more advanced" animals have more chromosomes. I was quite fascinated to learn that this is not generally true: dogs, for instance, have nearly twice as many chromosomes as humans. (Maybe "Prof. Peabody and his boy Sherman" wasn't so far off?) There are even closely related animals whose DNA looks very different. Carolyn showed the example of an Asian deer, the Muntjac, which has only 7 chromosomes, but each about 10 times (!) as large as a human chromosome. Most deer have "standard looking" chromosomes (about 10x as many "normal size" ones): apparently for some reason the Muntjac "put all its base pairs in one basket", so to say: strange. Anyway it was a fun bunch of talks and helped me understand a bit more about how we know how living things live.

In my desperate search to find people willing to spend long hours preparing a talk for a very small (but enthusiastic!) audience, I was lucky to chance upon Dolores Montano, who has supplied me with several excellent leads for speakers. On July 11 Dolores give her view of how the first ``Expanding Your Horizons", held at the College of Santa Fe, came to be, along with the history of how WIS was born. Dolores showed several historic photos and clippings and I got a much better picture of the history of this organization. Dolores has also been very active encouraging students to come to the talks, and I am happy to report that our typical audience has more than tripled since the first talks this spring, though since many of the summer students have left I expect these numbers to "fall in the fall".

While organizing Dolores' talk, I got a call from Howard Vasquez of the Waste Isolation Pilot Plant (WIPP) Santa Fe Information Center asking if LAWIS would be interested in hearing a presentation on WIPP. The email response was positive, so I asked Howard to give a brief talk following Dolores' talk. Since there was little time to get out an announcement, and there was enough interest, Howard gave a repeat presentation on July 29. Howard gave a very good presentation and didn't mind too much that we hassled him for giving an entire talk on WIPP without once using the words "nuclear" or "radiation". For those of you who missed the talk but are interested in finding out more about WIPP, Howard left a few copies of their public information packet with me. Call or email me if you'd like one. We may also organize a trip to see the WIPP site (located near Carlsbad, NM) -- see the latest talk announcement for more details. Among the many interesting tidbits, we learned the rooms where the waste is to be stored shrink by about 3"/yr due to the pressure of the overburdening rock -- this is used as a design feature and will eventually lead to the waste containers being sealed in by the salt. As an appreciation for letting him speak to us, Howard sent a bunch of "WIPP" sport-bands (or whatever they are called) for securing glasses. I will pass them out at the Sept. 4 talk by Carol Mooney.

On August 1, Kaye Karns spoke on "Osmium isotopic separation and strategies to eliminate exposures" which she gave at a recent conference in her field. Kaye started with a brief introduction to what an Industrial Hygienist does (quoting from the brochure Kaye handed out): "Industrial Hygienists are scientists and engineers committed to protecting the health and safety of people in the workplace and the community. Industrial Hygiene is considered a science, but it also nvolves judgement, creativity, and human interaction. The goal of the Industrial Hygienist is to keep the workers, their families, and the community healthy and safe. They play a vital part in insuring that federal, state, and local laws and regulations are followed in the work environment." Kaye then went on to describe a specific example of how she had worked with a group of people at LANL investigating a new method of Osmium isotopic separation to insure safety of the project. Airborn Osmium is extremely hazardous but has a very distinctive odor (according to workers at other institutions who had had mild exposures, which incidents Kaye researched as background for this project). Part of the final safety procedure Kaye developed was to stop and smell the air upon entering the facility to determine if it was safe to procede. Kaye also had to find out where the Osmium went that did not reach the final collection stage. A significant fraction was trapped in the vaccum pump oil. This did not present an immediate hazard as the pump oil effectively acted as a storage container for the Osmium. Further, the Osmium could be recovered from the pump oil at a later date if desired (while the isotope of Osmium of interest to this project was depleted in the Osmium trapped in the pump oil, the recovered Osmium could potentially be resold to researchers with other interests, significantly reducing the effective cost of the isotope to this project). Thus no modification of the procedure was made to prevent Osmium getting into the pump oil. Kaye also studied if any vented Osmium could pose a hazard to pedestrians passing the building, and the area around the exhaust air vent was cordoned off to a safe distance as a result. Following Kaye's talk, she was approached by one of the summer students attending who is interested in entering this field, and Kaye was able to give a lot of good advice. I was happy to see the "Old Girl's Network" in action!

Finally, an advertizement for the next two talks:

Thursday, Sept. 4, noon, LANL Otowi Cafeteria Sideroom A: Carol Mooney, GRA representative at LANL, "Changes and Challenges in Science Careers"

(early October, location, time TBA): Denise George, T-1, LANL, "Managing a Software Team"

-- Tinka Gammel Lunch-Time Talk Agitator 667-9149, jtg@lanl.gov

LAWIS AT TAOS TEACHER WORKSHOP ------------------------------

Denise George and Tinka Gammel spent a delightful evening at Taos Ski Valley this June interacting with a collection of elementary school teachers. We were invited by Edi Klinger who was running a workshop on creative activities to encourage math and science education in the primary grades. Also attending was a female Santa Fe architect and one of the AAUW (American Association of University Women) sponsors of the most recent Careers and Curiosity Project. We were there to brainstorm the issue of girls losing interest in math and science -- girls often decide it is 'not cool.' We presented the Careers and Curiosity project which brings women who use math and science in their careers into the schools as a potential resource to be used by the elementary schools in Northern New Mexico. Women scientists bring hands-on activities to the schools, and all students have an opportunity to observe female scientists who are excited about their careers. It is an exposure activity whose purpose is to pique the children's natural curiosity.

Denise George dgeorge@lanl.gov Los Alamos National Laboratory

SURVEYING YOUR FUTURE BOOKLET REVISION: HELP STILL NEEDED ---------------------------------------------------------

Help is still needed for the revision of the NMNWSE booklet "Surveying Your Future: Nontraditional Careers for Young Women". It is an important tool we use to inspire young women to enter science and engineering fields and to give them information to help them make career choices. While most of the career essays now have authors, there are still tow topics for which no one has volunteered ("Paying For Your Education"; "Sexual Stereotyping and Sexual Prejudice"). Also, the individual contributions will need to be edited into a coherent whole.

Contact Ann Mauzy (mauzy@lanl.gov, 667-5387) or dede Collins (dede@lanl.gov, 665-2349) if you are interested in helping.

AAUW / 25 YRS of BREAKING DOWN BARRIERS ---------------------------------------

I thought the following article from the AAUW network would be of interest to LAWIS members. I am on the local AAUW council next year and would like to encourage LAWIS to collaborate with AAUW on some project. Any ideas/volunteers?

-- Nina Thayer, nnt@ncgr.org


Date: Thu, 12 Jun 1997 From: Voter Education <VOTERED@mail.aauw.org> Subject: Get the Facts--June 12

Get the Facts June 12, 1997

Title IX: 25 Years of Breaking Down Barriers For Women & Girls

In 1972, Congress enacted Title IX, the law that prohibits sex discrimination in education. In the 25 years since its passage, Title IX has helped women and girls make strides in gaining access to higher education, athletics, and nontraditional fields of study.

- In 1972 women made up 44 percent of undergraduates; today women are 55 percent. - In 1971 girls made up 1% of high school varsity athletes; today they make up 40%. - Until Title IX, many high schools prohibited girls from taking certain courses, such as auto mechanics and criminal justice. - In 1970 women earned 0.7% of bachelor's degrees in engineering; in 1994 women earned 14.8% of these degrees. - In 1970 women earned 7.1 percent of law degrees and 9.1 percent of medical degrees; in 1994 women earned 43 percent and 38 percent of degrees in those fields.

As women, girls, and their families across the country celebrate the 25th anniversary of Title IX, barriers to equality in education remain. Some obstacles that block women's and girls' access to the best education possible include:

- 85% of girls report experiencing sexual harassment at school. - Women's college athletics programs receive only 25% of athletic budgets. - According to the National Assessment of Education Progress, female students' participation rates in math and science decline as they advance in higher education.

Parents and educators must continue to address these barriers in order to ensure that women and girls can be successful in their lives.

Here's What You Can Do!

Help spread the word; work with friends to distribute this alert in your community.

Call your senators and representative at 202/224-3121 and urge them to support strong enforcement of Title IX so that all doors to educational opportunities are open to women and girls.


RECURSOS LOOKING FOR VOLUNTEER TO HELP WITH WEB PAGE ----------------------------------------------------

Recursos, a non-profit educational arts and humanities organization in Santa Fe offering specialized group tours and programs for the southwest, is looking for someone to volunteer time to help set up their web page. Jan Wills has done some preliminary set-up of the web page, but does not have time to finish the project. I was unable to get full details before sending out this newsletter, but Jan says they need someone to "add more pictures". If you think you might be interested in helping, please call Jan at 982-4512. I will also send out an email announcement when I get more information on what they need. For more information on Recursos, call the main number, 982-9301, or email them at recursos@aol.com.

SHORT NOTES / WEB LINKS -----------------------

A 68-page report, "Pursuing Excellence: A Study of U.S. Fourth-Grade Mathematics and Science Achievement in International Context", based on test results from the "Third International Mathematical and Science Study" (TIMSS), released last November, can be obtained on the Internet at: http://www.ed.gov/NCES/timss

The July Newsletter of the Forum on Physics and Society of the American Physical Society features three interesting articles on the theme "Women in Physics: Past, Present, Future":

-- "Personal Memories of Chien-Shiung Wu", N. Benczer-Koller;

-- "Women in Physics in Canada", J.B. Lagowski and J. McKenna; and

-- "Points of Derailment: The Making of a Female Physicist", D.E. Pugel. The electronic version of the Newsletter can be found on the Web at http://physics.wm.edu/~sher/newsletter.html (click on the link to the July 1997 newsletter).

As many of you may be aware, all references to evolution were deleted from the New Mexico State Board of Education Science Content Standards with Benchmarks for grades kindergarten through 12. The Coalition for Excellence in Science Education (http://www.highfiber.com/~dfbeck/CESE/CESEhome/html), which is chartered to improve science education and science literacy, has been actively concerned with addressing this deletion. If this topic is of concern to you, please check out their web page for membership information.

The Committee on the Status of Women in Physics of the American Physical Society maintains a Colloquium/Seminar Speakers List of Women in Physics, and a Colloquium Speakers List of Minorities in Physics. Both lists will be mailed to all physics departments this fall along with information on the APS Travel Grants Program which helps institutions invite speakers from these lists. If you are interested in registering on these lists, or browsing them to look for potential speakers to invite, see the web site at http://www.aps.org/educ/cslapp.html (or contact Tara McLoughlin of the APS, tara@aps.org, if you do not have web access).

The following articles which appeared in "The Scientist" may be of interest to LAWIS members:

-- "Maximizing Professional Development of Women in Academic Medicine, J. Bickel http://www.the-scientist.library.upenn.edu/ yr1997/may/comm_970512.html (The Scientist, Vol. 11, p. 10, 1997);

-- "To Effectively Discuss Evolution, First Define 'Theory'", R. Lewis http://www.the-scientist.library.upenn.edu/ yr1997/may/prof_970512.html (The Scientist, Vol. 11, p. 13, 1997).

A collection of resources from the Math Forum for information about women and mathematics is available on the web at http://forum.swarthmore.edu/social/math.women.html This site offers links to sites of general and historical interest, publications, programs, and major organizations. Featured sites include:

-- Women in Math Project, by Professor Marie Vitulli of the University of Oregon

-- Women Mathematicians, biographies written by students at Agnes Scott College

-- The Ada Project (TAP), Resources for Women in Computing, a resource clearinghouse

-- Girls' Attitudes, Self-Expectations, and Performance in Math, an annotated bibliography

-- NSF Report on Issues of Equity, the 1994 National Science Foundation report, online

-- Summer and Mentoring Programs for Undergraduate Women

-- GirlTECH, a Teacher Training and Student Council Program The materials on this page are among those catalogued in the Forum Internet Resource Collection.

To find even more information about women in math and science, try searching the Math Forum database: http://forum.swarthmore.edu/dumpgrepform.html Enter the keywords "women science" (just the words, not the quotes).

Other websites of interest:

-- LAWIS home page http://ladmac.lanl.gov/nmnwse/LAWIS/LAWIShome.html

-- Committee on the Status of Women in Physics home page http://aps.org/educ/cswpmiss.html

-- APS Education Home Page http://aps.org/educ/index.html

-- American Association of University Women home page http://www.aauw.org

-- Society of Women Engineers http://www.swe.org/

-- LANL student programs http://www.hr.lanl.gov/students

If you do not have web access and any of these topics is of interest to you, please contact me and I can send you hardcopies of the web sites. -- Tinka Gammel, LAWIS Newsletter Editor, 667-9149

MEMBERSHIP INFORMATION ----------------------

The NMNWSE and LAWIS Membership Year is defined as from October 1 to September 30. LAWIS chapter dues are rebated from the state dues, so no separate dues are collected from LAWIS members. Wyona Turner is Membership Chair of NMNWSE, and a copy of the membership form is available on the web (in Adobe Acrobat format) at http://ladmac.lanl.gov/nmnwse/ in the "Membership in NMNWSE" section. If you are unable to access that, Carol LaDelfe, LAWIS Membership Chair (and Acting President), cladelfe@lanl.gov, 667-8474, will be happy to put one in the mail to you.