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Pioneering Women in STEM Fields

March is Women’s History Month, and we’re highlighting some often-overlooked trailblazers in STEM fields. These figures continue to inspire future generations of women to continue breaking barriers and making history.

(Tu YouYou – Source: Wikimedia Commons)

Tu Youyou is a Chinese pharmaceutical chemist and educator who is best known for her discovery of the anti-malaria drug artemisinin. Her work has saved millions of lives worldwide, particularly in Africa and Asia where malaria is prevalent. Tu’s research was inspired by traditional Chinese medicine, and she utilized a combination of ancient texts and modern science to discover the drug. In recognition of her groundbreaking work, Tu was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2015, becoming the first Chinese woman to receive this honor. She continues to advocate for science education and research in China.


(Lisa Randall – Source: Boston Globe)

Lisa Randall is an American theoretical physicist who is known for her contributions to the field of particle physics and cosmology. Her research focuses on extra dimensions of space, and she has proposed theories that could explain the nature of dark matter and the Higgs boson. Randall has authored several books, including “Warped Passages” and “Knocking on Heaven’s Door,” which aim to make complex scientific concepts accessible to a broader audience. She has received numerous awards for her work, including a MacArthur Fellowship, and was listed by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world in 2007. Randall is a dedicated advocate for women in science and has spoken out about the challenges women face in the field.


(Gladys West – Photo by Adrian Cadiz)

Gladys West is an American mathematician whose work as a programmer for the U.S. Navy led to the development of the Global Positioning System (GPS). She was part of a team that worked on the mathematical models and algorithms used to create the technology that powers GPS. West’s contributions to the project were significant, including the development of an extremely accurate geodetic model of the Earth’s shape that was later used in GPS technology. Despite facing discrimination and segregation during her career, West continued to pursue her passion for mathematics and science, ultimately leaving a lasting impact on modern technology. In recognition of her contributions, West was inducted into the Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame in 2018.


Cynthia Breazeal is a roboticist and computer scientist who is best known for her work in the development of social robots. She is the founder and director of the Personal Robots Group at the MIT Media Lab, where she has focused on creating robots that can interact with humans in meaningful ways. Breazeal’s research has led to the development of several groundbreaking robots, including the popular social robot Kismet and the Jibo home robot. She has received numerous awards for her work, including the prestigious National Academy of Engineering’s Gilbreth Lectureship and a spot on the TIME 100 list of the most influential people in the world. Breazeal is a dedicated advocate for STEM education and has worked to inspire young people, particularly girls and underrepresented minorities, to pursue careers in science and technology.

Cynthia Breazeal – Source: Wikipedia Commons