T104 | Women Who Matter: Innovators in Science and Medicine


3:30 - 5:00 pm


1/18, 1/25, 2/1, 2/8, 2/15 & 2/22

Six Sessions 

This course is offered online via the easy-to-use Zoom program.

Though often overlooked, women have long made vital contributions to the fields of science and medicine.  This course will explore the roles these women played and challenges they overcame to continue advancing our understanding of the world around us.

Session One, Jan 18: Women in Astronomy with Katherine Kidd

Hypatia, a 4th century CE Greek astronomer, is the only woman included in Raphael’s famous fresco, The School at Athens. Although only fragments of her work survive, women astronomers of the 18th and 19th centuries were often called the Hypatia of their time.  In this class, we will learn about the critical role women mathematicians and astronomers have made to astronomy from the study of the transit of Venus to the US space program and the first image of a black hole.

Session Two, Jan 25: Women in the Space Program with Linda Neville

This session will discuss women astronauts, including Valentia Tereskkova, Sally Ride, Mae Jemison (pictured above), Eileen Colins, Kalpana Chawla, and Barbara Morgana, followed by a discussion of the new astronauts that are being considered in the area of commercial galactic travel such as Wally Funk.

Session Three, Feb 1: Women in Medicine with Shirin Nash

Dr. Nash will focus on the history of women in medicine, real and mythical, from ancient Egypt and Greece, to nuns practicing in the middle ages ,as well as the ladies of Salerno, the exclusion of women from the universities in Europe, and the first woman physician in the US, Elizabeth Blackwell. The trials, tribulations and successes of women physicians in the 20th and 21st centuries and the ongoing problems faced by professional women today will complete this session.

Session Four, Feb 8: Women in Paleontology with Katherine Kidd

In the 18th and 19th centuries, women often could not study at university, hold scientific jobs, or join scientific societies.  Nevertheless, they made contributions to paleontology as illustrators and translators, fields open to women, and as wives of paleontologists, where their work was often credited to their husbands.  Today women paleontologists are recognized as leaders in the field.  In this class, we will consider women paleontologist from the 18th to the 21st centuries. 

Session Five, Feb 15: Women in Biology with Linda Neville

This session will present women biologists who are well-known and also those who have been overlooked.  We will consider biologists Rosalind Franklin, Rachel Carson, Lynne Margulies, Miriam Menken, and Sheila Ochugboju Kaka.  Jane Goodall will also be discussed for her lifelong achievement with wild chimpanzees.

Session Six, Feb 22: Women Nobel Laureates in the Life Sciences with Shirin Nash

The last session will be a presentation of Women Nobel Laureates in the Life Sciences from Marie Curie, (1903 and 1911) to Jennifer Doudna and Emmanuelle Charpentier, (2020). The significance of their contributions as well as their life stories will be included in this presentation.

Katherine Kidd earned her PhD in international relations at the University of Pennsylvania.  She directed the programs and taught in international studies at Sacred Heart and Fairfield Universities.  Katherine has been interested in how science has often transcended politics, whether it was international cooperation on the transit of Venus among warring nations in the late 18th century or the agreement to make Antarctica a politics-free zone during the height of the Cold War.  Understanding how science can bridge political divides continues to be a topic of interest for her.

Dr. Shirin Nash is a retired pathologist who received her medical education in Mumbai, India and completed her residency in Pathology in Calgary, Canada.  She did a Fellowship in Gastrointestinal and Hepatic Pathology at Harvard Medical School and Brigham and Women’s Hospital in Boston.  She is a published author in her field, has held several academic posts in Massachusetts, and is the Founding Director of The Pathology Residency Program at Bay State Medical Center (now Baystate Health) in Springfield. 

Linda E. Neville received her Masters of Education at Penn State University.  She is currently working as a Teaching Assistant at Clarksburg Elementary School, and is a former English Language Arts Instructor and Co-coordinator of Distance Learning at the Northern Berkshire Adult Education Program/MCLA in North Adams, Mass. Before becoming a teacher she worked in the family business, Neville's Donut Shop, with her husband, children and grandchildren while attending MCLA.  After graduating, she taught English and Humanities as a public school teacher. Having a life-long interest in local history, she continues her research on the book: The North Adams Hawthorne---Summer of 1838.

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