Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) at Texas A&M University was established in 1992 with the mission to provide women in science and engineering with the proper resources to develop themselves in their careers. We accomplish this by organizing professional development seminars, outreach events, and the annual Susan M. Arseven ‘75 Conference for Women in Science and Engineering, which has been held on campus at Texas A&M University for the past 28 years.
The purpose of this organization is to promote the involvement of women in the fields of science, engineering, and technology. We aim to stimulate and encourage young women to pursue such careers as well as act as a support system for those that are currently pursuing professional degrees.
Membership in our organization is free and open to undergraduate and graduate students, postdoctoral fellows, faculty, and staff.
Our logo was designed in 2020 by our public relations coordinator, Gabrielle Risica ('22). The logo design incorporates imagery as a nod to women in science or engineering who have not gotten the credit they deserved or are notable figures in the scientific community. Their contributions range from advances in nuclear chemistry, to work in genetic engineering, to the discovery of several notable viruses, to understanding the earth's orbit and launching rockets into space, and beyond.
To all women in science, engineering or technology, WE SEE YOU!
Notable Women in STEM Represented in the WISE Logo
Barbara McClintock won the Nobel Prize in 1983 for her studies of the genetic makeup of corn, and specifically, her discovery of genetic transposition, or the ability of genes to change position on the chromosome.
Maria Goeppert Mayer
A German immigrant to the US who studied at Johns Hopkins during the Great Depression, Maria Goeppert Mayer, born in 1906, persisted in her studies even when no university would employ her and went on to become a chemical physicist. Her most famous contribution to modern physics is discovering the nuclear shell of the atomic nucleus, for which she won the Nobel Prize in 1963.
Chief among Curie’s many achievements include discovering radioactivity and inventing a mobile X-ray unit that was employed during World War I. With her husband, Pierre, Curie also discovered the radioactive elements polonium and radium — and developed techniques for isolating radioactive isotopes. In 1903, Curie became the first woman to win a Nobel Prize. After her first win in physics, she later earned an award in chemistry — making her the first person to have been awarded twice.
In 1938, after she escaped from the Nazis to Sweden, she carried out the key calculations that led to the discovery of nuclear fission. Her collaborator, Otto Hahn, who stayed behind in Germany, was the sole recipient of the Nobel Prize in chemistry in 1944. In 1997 Meitner was finally honored when element 109 was named meitnerium.
Wu was the first scientist to confirm — and later refine — Enrico Fermi’s theory of radioactive beta decay. She is also known for her “Wu experiment,” which overturned the theory of parity in physics. This breakthrough led to a Nobel Prize that was awarded to her male colleagues, with Wu’s critical role in the work overlooked.
Darlene C. Hoffman
The very heaviest elements, those more massive than plutonium, are also the most elusive, with very short-lived stable states. Hoffman, who headed the team that first discovered plutonium 244 in nature, leads the search for those elements' mysterious properties. Nuclear science, she points out, was started in large part by women, among them Marie Curie. "If anything, women were prominent because it wasn't an established field, and so it was easier to break into."
During her research career, this molecular biologist has investigated the organization of the human genome and helped draft the first safety guidelines for genetic engineering. Now, in addition to leading Carnegie, Singer has set up training courses for school teachers in Washington, D.C. "It is essential that children get science education when they are little, so they learn that science is fun and learn how to think about the natural world. By and large, teachers are just not equipped to do this."
Jennifer Doudna is one of the most culturally significant scientists studying today. She helped develop CRISPR, the genetic-engineering method that could allow for “designer babies” but also for the eradication or treatment of sickle cell anemia, cystic fibrosis, Huntington's disease, and HIV. She is a professor at UC Berkeley.
Franklin is known for her revolutionary work in discovering the double helix structure of DNA. She passed away four years before her male colleagues were awarded with the Nobel Prize in 1962. Some believe that even if Franklin had lived, she likely would have been snubbed by the committee.
In 1985 molecular biologist Wong-Staal and her colleagues were the first to clone HIV-1 and create a map of its genes, which led to a test for the virus. Today she looks for new drugs to fight AIDS and other diseases. Her most recent strategy for combating HIV focuses on understanding genes in humans that help the virus enter cells and successfully infect a host. Attacking HIV directly has failed, she says, "because the virus is a moving target and can readily develop resistance."
Beatrice H. Hahn
About 70 years ago, a global pandemic that has claimed more than 60 million lives began after HIV-1, the virus that causes AIDS in humans, jumped from chimpanzees to people. Hahn's studies show that one subspecies of chimp — Pan troglodytes troglodytes, native to west central Africa — is the most likely natural reservoir of the virus. The "$50 million question," she says, is why the chimps don't appear to get sick. "The answer will provide critical clues as to why we do."
Margaret A. Liu
HIV mutates so quickly that it can outmaneuver traditional vaccines made from viral proteins or weakened viruses. Worse, a vaccine made from a weakened virus could prove deadly if the virus mutated and regained virulence. Liu's work has shown that DNA may offer "the hope of better, more stable vaccines that can be rapidly produced." DNA injected as a vaccine might signal the body to churn out proteins that protect against HIV by provoking an immune response to the virus.
Pharmaceutical chemist Tu Youyou's discovery of a new malaria treatment has saved millions of lives. Tu, who studied traditional Chinese and herbal medicines, found a reference in ancient medical texts to using sweet wormwood to treat intermittent fevers -- a symptom of malaria.
When World War II descended, Hopper followed in her grandfather’s footsteps, leaving her job teaching maths at Vassar College to join the US Naval Reserves. She was directed to Harvard University to learn to program the Mark I, the first functional computer. Grace endeavoured to make computing accessible to the general public, first and foremost through the development of a comprehensive computer language, COBOL, which was based on English words rather than binary code. Twice she tried to retire but ended up continuing to work into her 80s, making her the US Navy’s oldest active-duty commissioned officer and earning her the Defense Distinguished Service Medal.
Lovelace is regarded as the first computer programmer — long before modern computers were invented. Her notes on Charles Babbage’s proposed analytical engine (a programmable, general-purpose computer), is considered to be the very first computer algorithm.
West’s work in developing mathematical modeling of the shape of the Earth served as the foundation of GPS technology. In 2018, she was inducted into the U.S. Air Force Space and Missile Pioneers Hall of Fame, one of the Air Force space command’s highest honors.
Margaret Heafield Hamilton is an American computer scientist, systems engineer, and business owner. She was director of the Software Engineering Division of the MIT Instrumentation Laboratory, which developed on-board flight software for NASA's Apollo program.
Johnson’s calculations of orbital mechanics as a NASA employee were critical to sending the first Americans into space. She became famous when her story was profiled in the movie Hidden Figures.
Rubin's pioneering astronomy research suggests that some 90 percent of the universe's mass remains unseen. She has watched galaxies spin and found that stars at the outskirts don't creep slowly along as expected. Instead, they move quickly, pulled around by the gravity of dark matter. "If you are an observational astronomer," she says, "it's hard to study something that you cannot see, so we study things we can and hope they'll lead us to a unique answer about what dark matter is. But we aren't there yet."