Happy Wednesday! This week, we’re taking a closer look at Dr. Ainissa Ramirez!
“I have wanted to be a scientist ever since I was a little girl. I got the idea from a television program called 3-2-1 Contact, where I watched a young African-American girl solve problems. I saw my reflection in her and was transfixed. As time passed and my science career progressed, I saw that reflection less often.” – Dr. Ainissa Ramirez, in a recent article in SCIENCE.
Ainissa G. Ramirez, Ph.D. is a science evangelist who is passionate about getting the general public excited about science. She co-authored Newton’s Football: The Science Behind America’s Game (Random House); and, authored Save Our Science: How to Inspire a New Generation of Scientists (TED Books). Her next book, due out in April 2020, is The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed Each Other.
In The Alchemy of Us, Dr. Ramirez examines eight inventions―clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips―and reveals how they shaped the human experience. She shows not only how materials were shaped by inventors but also how those materials shaped culture, chronicling each invention and its consequences―intended and unintended.
Filling in the gaps left by other books about technology, Ramirez showcases little-known inventors―particularly people of color and women―who had a significant impact but whose accomplishments have been hidden by mythmaking, bias, and convention. Doing so, she shows us the power of telling inclusive stories about technology. She also shows that innovation is universal―whether it’s splicing beats with two turntables and a microphone or splicing genes with two test tubes and CRISPR.
Before taking on the call to improve the public’s understanding of science, she was an Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering & Materials Science at Yale University. Technology Review, the magazine of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), named her as one of the world’s 100 Top Young Innovators for her contributions to transforming technology. She has been profiled in The New York Times, Fortune Magazine, CBS News, Inside Edition, Fox News, CNN, NPR, ESPN, Time Magazine as well as scientific magazines (Scientific American and Discover Magazine).
She now focuses her energies on making science fun, and gave an impassioned called to action at TED on the importance of understanding science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), which generated widespread enthusiasm. At Yale, she was the director of the award-winning science lecture series for children called Science Saturdays and hosted two popular-science video series called Material Marvels and Science Xplained.
She speaks internationally on the importance of making science fun and has served as a science advisor to the American Film Institute, WGBH/NOVA, the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) and several science museums. Currently, she co-hosts a science podcast called Science Underground, and is preparing for the release of The Alchemy of Us, which will include stories about the woman who sold time, the inventor who inspired Edison, and the hotheaded undertaker whose invention pointed the way to the computer.
“Children need to explore and to discover,” she said in the talk. “This is how you innovate; you fail your way to your answer. Scientists fail all the time; we just brand it differently. We call it ‘data.’” — Dr. Ainissa Ramirez
Let us know if you’d like to bring Dr. Ainissa Ramirez to speak to your organization, campus, or conference!
—And that is the story for this week! Be sure to follow us on Facebook and Twitter to keep up with the latest from all of our speakers, scientists and change makers!