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Stories from the Field

Women in Chemistry: Stories from the Field

Stories from the Field preserves and celebrates the contributions of women in science. From students striving for degrees to scientists looking back on their careers, this audio library captures triumphs, challenges, and insights in short, conversational interviews.

We at CHF thank all our Stories from the Field participants for sharing their experiences with us—and with generations of scientists to come.


“Nothing is better than a good day in the lab.”

Sarah Mullins, a researcher in the chemistry of inorganic materials for 3M Company in St. Paul, Minnesota, talks about her love for science and how she plans to use it to create more opportunities for women in STEM fields.

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“Other women now will notice, but then it was news to me, how we qualify ourselves.”

To avoid being perceived as aggressive, says Lynn Johnson Langer, women often qualify their thoughts. Phrases like “it’s just my opinion” are used by women often, yet men don’t feel the same need to be “nice.” She talks about her experiences being the only woman in the room and her strategies for navigating life as a woman in science.

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“Remain flexible and open to what the possibilities might be.”

It was a tough decision, she says, but Terri Taylor left grad school to become a high-school chemistry teacher. She talks about the importance of following your passion and taking your career one step at a time.

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“Scientists have the responsibility to devote their time to use their science for peace.”

Zafra Lerman is the president and founder of Methods Integrating Music, Science, Art and Dance. Here she shares some thoughts about her collaborative efforts with scientists around the globe to keep the world clean and efficient.

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“Seek mentors from a lot of different areas of science.”

Chemists can be narrowly focused, says Rebecca Guenard. In a field that encourages scientists to follow a predefined path, she encourages young women to take a wider view and realize it’s okay to take a nontraditional route.

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“Seize every opportunity that you have.”

In a world that’s changing, says Tiffany King, one of the keys to success is to have an end goal in mind.

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“Strike a good balance between your career and your personal life.”

It’s not all about career, says Laura McCunn. Marriage and family need to be considered when choosing a path, she says, and she credits a lot of her career success to having a supportive husband.

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“The most important thing is to find the people you feel will make a good team.”

Don’t delay being happy in your career, says Sherri Oslick. Finding the right path requires talking to a lot of people, and it also means listening to your instincts.

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“The story of my life is ‘If you tell me I can’t do it, I do it.’”

After being told she wasn’t particularly smart, Mary Shultz, a professor of chemistry at Tufts University, set out to prove otherwise. She talks about the importance of doing what excites you and encourages women to never take “impossible” for an answer.

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“There are many ways to get to your destination.”

After struggling with bench research Claire Skentelbery realized her true calling was science communication. She talks about the importance of getting the public to understand science, the struggles facing women in science, and the jobs she is doing that she never knew existed until she left the bench.

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Catalyst Series: Women in Chemistry

Women in Chemistry

Follow the adventures of eight leading women in chemistry and celebrate their life-changing, chance-taking, thrill-seeking love of science.