AWIS Newsletter issue #9, Spring 2017
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Seattle AWIS Newsletter 
May 2017 

Table of Contents



by the GEMS Committee
An exciting wrap up to the GEMS 2016-17 year
Rachelle Lim
The GEMS (Girls in Engineering, Math, and Science) program wrapped up another productive year this past May. Thirty-eight women from a slew of STEM fields—from computer scientists solving problems in data visualization to immunologists fighting cancer—volunteered their Tuesday and Wednesday evenings once a month from November to May to serve as mentors for girls interested in science, technology and mathematics.

The 43 girls registered for the program ranged from 7th to 8th grade and hailed from all parts of Seattle, including as far south as Rainier Middle School and James Madison Middle School to schools up north such as Catherine Blaine and Eckstein Middle School. But their curiosity and love for STEM united them, and guided by the volunteer mentors, the girls spent the last three GEMS sessions solving mysteries using forensic science, dusting for fingerprints, testing fabrics and doing blood type analyses; surveying plankton under a microscope and competing to build the most neutrally buoyant plankter; and cracking binary code to learn the principles of computer science. But GEMS hasn’t just been limited to the classroom. On their March field trip, the girls participated in the UW Bothell STEM Fest, where they attended workshops in robotics, life sciences, and technology, interacted with exhibitions from the likes of Microsoft, Boeing, and Adobe, and listened to a keynote speech by astronaut Wendy Lawrence. GEMS volunteers also had an exhibition at the event—teaching girls about chemical bonding through the formation of apple juice alginate balls—and networked with other youth mentorship organizations as well as raised awareness to girls and parents visiting the booth about the existence of the program. The subsequent field trip in April they learned about native Washington plants and invasive species from volunteers at the UW Society for Ecological Restoration. The program also allowed more one-on-one mentoring opportunities to be forged between GEMS participants and volunteers: for example, Kristin Anderson from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center went on to supervise the science fair projects of two GEMS participants, even allowing them the opportunity to work in a lab at the Hutch! Overall, an extremely exciting year.

There were some hurdles. Transportation to and from West Seattle was a struggle for both mentors and students alike. We are currently exploring options for switching to a new location, potentially in South Seattle, and suggestions for location possibilities are gladly welcomed. Choosing field trips was also sometimes difficult, and any AWIS members willing to host our students for a day tour and some activities in their labs or companies would also be truly appreciated. As always, the GEMS chairs can be reached at!


Scholarship News

by the Scholarship Committee
By Fran Solomon

The Seattle AWIS Scholarship Committee has selected eight outstanding future scientists to receive scholarships for the 2017-2018 academic year.  These recipients were selected, based on academic achievement, financial need, motivation to pursue a science career, a record of community service, and the potential impact of the scholarship.     We gratefully acknowledge and thank our major donors for their generous contributions to the scholarship fund: Battelle, Veronica Smith and Natalie Hamrick, Immune Design, Fran Solomon, and Steve Gilbert and Janice Camp.  Thanks also to the following AWIS members and friends for their contributions: Melissa Conerly, Sheila Lukehart, Cathy Manner, Linda Mantel, Allyson Nelson, Urania Perez, Barbara Ross, Amy Siegesmund, Peggy Smith, Frieda Taub, and Reitha Weeks.  All of you are making a difference in the lives of women who are planning science careers.
The scholarships will be presented at the Seattle AWIS banquet on June 6.  The following list of recipients indicates the year in college as of Fall 2017, university attended, major, and the scholarship that each is receiving.
1. Tracie Barry, senior, University of Washington Tacoma (UWT), environmental science, Battelle Scholarship
2. Cassidy Bummer, senior, Gonzaga University (GU), biology, Steve Gilbert and Janice Camp Scholarship
3. Kristi Holt, senior, Seattle Pacific University, physiology, Battelle Scholarship
4. Diana Orbeladze, junior, Seattle University, diagnostic ultrasound, AWIS Members' Scholarship
5. Erika Santacruz, junior, GU, biology and psychology, AWIS Members' Scholarship
6. Grace Sullivan, junior, University of Puget Sound, molecular and cellular biology, Immune Design Scholarship
7. Katelyn Tozer, senior, UWT, biomedical science, Veronica Smith and Natalie Hamrick Scholarship
8. Tian Qing Yen, senior, Western Washington University, biochemistry, Leon and Emma Solomon Memorial Scholarship


Profile Article

by Graciela Matrajt
To quit or not to quit? Working with a micromanager
By Graciela Matrajt
Peggy* had always received high marks on her performance evaluations. The students she advised mention over and over that she has made a difference in their lives. She initiated a new multidisciplinary course and the educational institution where she worked estimates that her course alone doubled the number of students enrolling in the program for which she was the Director. All seemed to be good. Her professional career was advancing at a fast pace, she was successful, and she used all her talents and skills to help advance other people’s education. Why then was Peggy unhappy? Depressed? Stressed? Anxious? Overwhelmed? Why, after all this success, was Peggy considering resigning? Simply put, her new supervisor was a controlling and distrustful micromanager.   “I felt constantly that my hands were tied, that my opinion was not relevant, and that I did not have autonomy to make any decision,” notes Peggy. Her boss would not let Peggy do her job. Peggy’s decisions would be overruled at every step, in every meeting, at every set goal.
Peggy was a research scientist for over 15 years, specializing in the field of micropaleontology. She received her Ph.D. in Canada and moved to Seattle to work at a research-oriented institution for three years. She switched careers and became a graduate student advisor and mentor for over seven years. She developed strategies to help students succeed and find a job locally; she developed a program where she introduced her students to local professionals during job shadows, company tours, and short-term internships. Peggy took the time to carefully match each of her students with the right professional. In fact, all the students she matched were offered an internship, summer job, or Ph.D. project. Her program was very successful.
Then Peggy was promoted and became the director of the graduate program of her biotechnology department. The department wanted her to emphasize multidisciplinary research and the application of laboratory techniques in the medical field. Because Peggy had been a research scientist in a multidisciplinary field and had collaborated with colleagues from a variety of fields and disciplines, she had many connections and a vast knowledge of what it entails to be multidisciplinary.
In her new role, Peggy started connecting with her colleagues and students. She developed a new website, a new scholarship program, and a new internship portal to increase internship opportunities for her students. The student interest in the graduate program increased and so did student enrollment. The scholarship program enhanced program completion. “Students would come to my office and would thank me for the scholarship program,” notes Peggy. Indeed, 75% of the students enrolled in the program were low-income, retrained workers, or first-generation college students. Many simultaneously work a job and support a family throughout their education. The scholarship program was vital to help them stay and succeed in the program. Peggy’s accomplishments led to the program being featured on the first page of the college website and presented at several career fairs.
“I felt I was doing a good job. We could see success on each and every step we were undertaking,” reflects Peggy. “I was learning my new role and I was feeling that, even though there is always a learning curve, mine was moving steadily forward,” shares Peggy with a smile.
And then things changed. Peggy’s direct supervisor, the department chair, moved to another institution. Her new boss, BB*, a former faculty member from the same department where Peggy worked, had a different view of success and of where the graduate program should focus. Moreover, BB had friends who had just lost their employment and hoped to join the department’s workforce and, more specifically, the program that Peggy directed. Some of these friends were ready to relocate and take on new or existing responsibilities, even if that implied laying off current members of the team.

Peggy soon learned that BB liked to control every step in every process. BB was quite busy with her Chair responsibilities but she felt obliged to intervene in each and every decision pertaining to the graduate program. At first, Peggy accepted the challenge: “I didn’t have much industry experience, so I thought I could use some help.” But little by little, BB started taking over Peggy’s role and deciding how the graduate program should be run and how she, as the director, should act. “I would be asked to sit on graduate courses so the students would notice me and talk to me in case they didn’t know who the new director was,” says Peggy. BB also took control of Peggy’s budget and used it to hire her friend as a contractor to perform a job that was the responsibility of a current team member. From Peggy’s perspective, it seemed as though BB wanted to hire her friend to do a job that was already another team member’s responsibility. “She expected the latter to get overwhelmed and quit so she could justify the hiring of her friend” explains Peggy, “which is what finally happened.”
BB also took control of Peggy’s professional travel. She was forced to register and attend a conference every two months and to take her entire team with her. “I found it outrageous! These were all very expensive and similar conferences, and we did not need to attend them all,” explains Peggy. “I was even told which sessions I should attend and which ones not, with whom to collaborate and with whom not.”
The travel and grant offices soon noticed the hiring of a contractor to perform a redundant role and the amount and frequency of travel. Peggy was asked to justify these. “It was embarrassing; this is public money that is hard to obtain. I wanted to use it in the scholarship program I had created, but my hands were tied,” comments Peggy, “because my opinion would not be taken into account and I would not be given any other choice.”
Peggy consulted a management coach assuming the cost would be covered as part of her expenses to improve in her new role. But BB would not stand for it “I was forced to report in writing what I had discussed with the coach,” notes Peggy. When Peggy argued that she felt her rights to confidentiality were being breached, BB refused to approve payment for the coach services “until I told her what I discussed with the coach.” The coach’s payment was delayed by two months.
“I realized that I was no longer in control. I had lost control of my budget, the way I move around in a conference, the people I collaborate with, the focus of the program, my meetings, the choice of members of my team.” Indeed, more than once Peggy met with her team and agreed on a task, only to find out later that BB had undone whatever was agreed upon. “It was all a waste of time,” says Peggy “anything the team would decide to do would be canceled the next day.”
Peggy often had meetings with several people throughout the campus. She was trying to collaborate with other departments who would offer opportunities to her students or who would have developed a similar scholarship program and who could offer some advice. Although she was often away from her office, she would stay connected to students and faculty via email. People did not seem to have an issue finding her. “They would tell me when they needed to meet and we would find a time to get together in my office,” says Peggy “I would even accompany my students to their first interview when looking for an internship or a summer project,” explains Peggy, “because I knew that for some of them, meeting with a faculty or a professional from a company was intimidating.”
For BB, however, all of Peggy’s activities outside her office meant losing control. “If BB walked by my office and saw the door closed, she would assume I did not come to work that day and would not sign off on my time reporting chart; I had to justify where I was and with whom,” adds Peggy, “by writing the details of whom I met, when, for how long, and for what purpose, or else my pay would be delayed.” Clearly, there was a lack of trust coupled with a strong feeling of being spied upon.
For Peggy, it all became a barrier to her productivity. While in meetings, she was constantly stressed that her supervisor would be suspicious of her. When spending her budget, she worried about organizing events that would later be canceled. One time Peggy organized a small workshop for the students to meet with some local professionals. When it was time to pay for the catering, BB denied approval. “I had to cancel the room we had reserved, the catering services, and the speakers we had invited,” explains Peggy. “It was all so embarrassing.”
Peggy started having trouble sleeping. She was constantly waking up in the middle of the night full of anguish and anxiety. “It seemed that all I was doing was wrong. I did not know what else to do to satisfy my supervisor,” says Peggy. Her doctor told her that she had anxiety and was at risk of depression, that she needed to relax. But how to relax with that constant feeling of being followed, controlled, told what to do? She came to understand that she could not change BB’s behavior and that “my only option was to quit,” she explains.
Peggy knew that she had essentially two options. One was to fight back, perhaps with a lawsuit, since some of these practices were crossing a fine legal line. Peggy weighed that with this option she would spend all her energy and would still be anxious, stressed, and at risk of depression. Most importantly, she would not get her job back, at least not as she used to have it. The second option, the one she finally chose, would preserve her strength and sanity, which she would use to look for her next opportunity, and which would give her a chance for a change and a fresh start.
Resigning was a difficult decision. She had worked hard for this promotion. After all her years of experience with students, after all the successes of the program and the positive remarks she constantly received from students and colleagues alike, leaving this position was going to be hard. But in the long term, facing health problems such as depression, anxiety, and lack of sleep was going to be harder.
“I was lucky that my spouse supported my decision and that we could afford it financially,” notes Peggy. Indeed, not everybody can afford to quit a good job because of a difficult supervisor. But the reality of the academic world is that faculty members with tenure are immovable and the system is such that, despite a successful program and a body of students and colleagues embracing Peggy’s achievements, it was Peggy who ultimately had to leave. Even if that implied that the academic program would take a toll and suffer from that decision.
Peggy left after just a few months in her new position as director of the biotechnology graduate program and, for some time, she did not work in an academic environment. Now Peggy works at a local science museum developing a STEM program for students with special needs.  “I am happy to have left. I discovered a new set of skills that I can use to work in a place where science and students come together,” comments Peggy with a big smile on her face. “Quitting was the best decision and I don’t regret it a bit.”
There are more and more studies that show the main reason for stress, anxiety, and depression in the workplace is not the workload, but the supervisor. In many instances, bullying at the workplace comes from high-level supervisors and colleagues who have just been promoted. Unfortunately, most academic systems are not supportive of those who are subordinates and who are left with no other choice than to resign.
Good luck in your new endeavors Peggy! Way to go!
* The names of people and places have been modified in order to protect the interviewee’s confidentiality.

Graciela Matrajt is a scientist reinvented as a scientific writer and medical interpreter. She works at the UW in the Department of Public Health. She likes to write about science and to participate in outreach activities.

Local Biotech and Pharma News

Compiled by Graciela Matrajt 
  • The Bezos family gives $35 million to the Fred Hutch, the single largest gift ever received by the institution since its creation 41 years ago. Read full article
  • Nanoparticles, tiny balls that can carry genetic information, are a potential new approach to reprogram T cells to fight cancer. This approach, developed at the Fred Hutch, is another way to do immunotherapy but without the use of antibodies or the need to genetically engineer the patient's T cells outside their body. Read the full article here
  • Atyra Bio, a new Seattle-based seed-stage biomedical startup having debuted in May 2017, aims to develop a safer, more effective formulation plus a companion gene test to treat hypothyroidism.  Atyra Bio was founded to improve the lives of hypothyroid patients who have a poor response to the thyroid replacement mainstay drug, levothyroxine, causing exhaustion, brain fog, and other symptoms. Founder and CEO Emily Allen has been driven to try to understand and solve this pain point after experiencing it herself, following treatment for thyroid cancer, leading to a key discovery. If you personally or scientifically relate to Atyra Bio’s mission to improve the quality of life in hypothyroidism, please reach out to Emily at

Recent discoveries and achievements

Compiled by Graciela Matrajt
  • In 2006, billionaire Warren Buffett donated near $15 billion to the Gates Foundation. Bill and Melinda Gates wrote a report detailing all the advancements that the Foundation has been able to do with that gift. The results are very positive and establish optimism in the fight against a variety of diseases and child mortality. Read full report
  • Enceladus, one of Saturn's moons, has a salty ocean with organic material underneath its icy surface, revealed data acquired by NASA spacecraft Cassini. The discovery makes Enceladus the top candidate for hosting life elsewhere in the solar system. Read full article
  • And talking about Cassini, the space mission will arrive at its end on September 15th, when it will dive between Saturn's rings and crash and burn in Saturn's atmosphere after 13 years of gathering extraordinary data. Read full article 
  • A new drug, based on ketamine, was discovered inadvertently and may be able to prevent depression and post-trauma stress disorder. The discoverer is a 34-year old female neuroscientist. Read full article
  • A female astronaut sets the record for the longest time spent in space. Peggy Whitson is a commander on the International Space Station who has been in space for a cumulative 534 days. Read the full article
  • Eons ago Earth experienced a wild transformation: it turned into a giant snowball. These massive glaciation events, where ice encased the planet from pole-to-pole, are named “snowball Earth.” A new theory attempts to explain how that happened. Read full article
  • Meteorite impacts can produce more than craters on the Earth - they can also spark volcanic activity that shapes its surface and climate by bringing up material from depth. Read full article

Book and podcast review

by Jana Strakova
  • A review of the book Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World written by Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta
Brett Finlay and Marie-Claire Arrieta are microbiologists and authors of Let Them Eat Dirt: Saving Your Child from an Oversanitized World. While studying microbiota of humans, Finlay and Arrieta revealed that a very early exposure to microbes is essential for the maturation of the immune system. It is becoming evident that microbes or more precisely the lack thereof are involved in the development of modern time epidemic of diseases like obesity, asthma, diabetes and allergies.  
As current lifestyle makes our lives and especially childhood cleaner, it takes a “huge toll on our microbiota and lifelong health”. Both, being also parents, realized that there is a huge body of evidence of what good microbes do for us, especially in early childhood, but a distinct lack of information besides scientific literature. This realization drove them to gather known evidence and make it accessible to parents. As they point out in their book, microbes that keep us healthy were ignored for many years and “it is time for everyone to become better hosts to our microbial guests”. Learn about the book here 
  • A note on the podcast interview of neurosurgeon Keith Black by radio host Tavis Smiley on Alzheimer's disease.
A non-invasive detection method for Alzheimer’s disease that would enable us to diagnose the disease years before symptoms appear has been developed by neurosurgeon Keith Black. 
As life expectancy increases, medicine faces new challenges to prevent the aging brain from deterioration. There is currently no cure for Alzheimer’s disease (AD), the most common form of dementia. While microscopic changes in the brain appear years before the symptoms, there is no way to detect them at the onset of the disease thus missing an important window for intervention. Some molecular hallmarks, such as the presence of misfolded proteins and inflammation in the brain, present therapeutic targets. Unfortunately, the available treatment only slows AD progression because by the time the symptoms appear brain tissue is irreversibly lost. Radio host Tavis Smiley talks with neurosurgeon Keith Black about exciting developments in the early detection of AD through non-invasive imaging of the retina. Once approved by the FDA, this method will allow for AD detection decades before it becomes symptomatic and enable researchers to tackle the disease in its early stages focusing on a cure or a significant postponement of the symptoms. Listen to Tavis Smiley’s interview here 

Work/Life balance

Compiled by Graciela Matrajt
  • How to handle things when you have made a big mistake at work? Take responsibility, find a way to repair the problem, and finally, take an opportunity to redeem yourself. Read the full article
  • And to avoid making mistakes, follow this advice from experienced professionals. Read the 12 recommendations
  • More and more people seek flexibility in their workplace. From flexible schedules to remote work, the reasons behind this trend range from family time, commute issues, health issues, etc. But how to negotiate more flexibility with your employer? Read useful advice
  • Gender salary disparity is still an issue. Employers can legally pay women less than men for the same work based on differences in the workers’ previous salaries, a federal appeals court ruled last April 27th. Read the full article

Past events

By Marissa Konstadt

The Science-Theater Connection

By Marissa Konstadt

Earlier this year, the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) collaborated with the Infinity Box Theater to produce a staged reading of “Celebrating Women in Science”, a play about a few key female researchers through history and their experience as women in their field. The resulting event began with an educational and entertaining story performed for the audience and ended with an engaging dialogue among the actors, producers, and audience members about the themes of the play and the broader topic of women in science.   
This play created an opportunity to “learn about the women’s lives, their passion for following their dream, in spite of serious obstacles” said playwright and Infinity Box co-founder Catherine Kettrick. “They were all different in their approach to challenges, but all shared the same desire to learn” and furthermore, the audience shared this desire with them.
This is precisely the aim of the Infinity Box Theatre project: it enables “thought-provoking theater [while] providing some containment for that thought in the form of audience conversations” stated Infinity Box co-founder, and artistic director David Mills. Theater provides a unique outlet for storytelling; one that makes otherwise difficult or complicated topics accessible through a shared experience with the audience, and characters to empathize with.
In today’s world, and throughout history, women have been a minority in science, and this lack of presence can incidentally discourage young women from wanting to pursue scientific careers simply because they do not experience female role models in the various scientific fields. Celebrating Women in Science helped bring to light the many successful women who have contributed to the great scientific advances. The play literally puts a spotlight on these stories and places them on stage for all to see; the stories of women in science are hidden, anomalies no longer. 
“Fundamentally, I think that science is a matter of shared comprehension,” says Mills. Humans seek to understand the world around them, and science is a means to do so, together. “Theater has always been the place where societies come to think together about what is important to them” continues Mills. In his own personal story, Mills continued to use theater as a place to think and explore throughout his formal training in physics. It was then that he first noticed the parallels between scientific endeavors and theatrical ones: they both seemed to be rooted in relationships and seeking answers. In theater, we explore the depth of humanity and the consequences of our decisions. In science, we explore the depth of the physical environment and the consequence of its interactions. In science theater, we find a powerful tool to poke at our discoveries, acknowledge the humanity of our researchers, and share important stories with live audiences.
The Infinity Box Theater hosts a variety of annual productions, ranging from staged readings to collaborations between Seattle playwrights and scientists. Some productions are rehearsed over weeks, while others are intended to be improvised momentum. For example, one upcoming event is called the “Faraday Cage Match” which is a competitive evening of science and improv theater. The next major production will be “Thought Experiments” on October 14 -16th at the Ethnic Cultural Theater at the University of Washington. Thought Experiments on the Question of Being Human is a festival of original plays, created by scientist/playwright teams to examine the question of what it means to be human in light of current developments in science and technology. In its fifth year, the Thought Experiments will focus on the science of changing your mind.
The name “Infinity Box” was born from a collection of science fiction stories published in the mid-1970s by Kate Wilhelm. The phrase “brain box” was used in the early 20th century when referring to the skull. During World War II, the term could refer to a small group of intelligent people who gather together to solve a problem. The theater drew its inspiration from these significant phrases throughout history to establish their own Infinity Box: a small space in which anything is possible. “After thinking outside the box for a long time,” Mills says, of his desire to create a theater company, “I realized I needed my own box.”
The Infinity Box Theater is uniquely positioned to bring communities together in curiosity and dialogue. It is not confined to any single field, or scientific discipline, but rather can shape its productions based on the important stories of the moment. “Each project is designed to explore the science/theater connection in a different way,” says Mills. And each live performance is distinguished by the attendees who are present to experience it. Come see for yourself and join the next scientific dialogue through theater with Infinity Box.

Upcoming events


All AWIS events are free and held the third Wednesday of the month in the Pelton Auditorium, which is located in the Thomas Bldg of the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (see map). Parking is free. The event starts at 6:00 PM. From 6:00-6:30 we have networking time accompanied with food and wine. The talk/panel runs from 6:30-7:30 PM. We then have dessert and more networking until 8:00 PM.
All are welcome, no need to be a member.


Come celebrate with Seattle AWIS!
Buy your banquet ticket by June 2ndIndividual banquet tickets are available online at
2017 AWIS Banquet
Tuesday – June 6, 2017 – 6:00-9:00 pm
The Landing at Tyee on Lake Union (formerly Tyee Yacht Club)
3229 Fairview Ave E., Seattle, WA 98102
The AWIS Banquet promises to be an inspirational evening. Hearing from the 2017 Award Winners, meeting the undergraduate scholarship winners and enjoying the company of other supporters of women in science will make for a memorable evening. 
The banquet is open to the public – AWIS members and non-members, women and men. 
Student tickets - $30
AWIS Members - $35 
Non-AWIS Members - $40 
(service fee will be added for online ticket sales)
Ticket sales end at noon on Friday, June 2nd.
Seattle AWIS supports the accomplishments of all women in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) but each year we take special pride in recognizing particularly outstanding, local women at our annual June banquet.
This year, Seattle AWIS is honored to recognize three outstanding women who have advanced their fields of scientific research, education and outreach.  They are leaders and innovators whose work has made an impact.  They are mentors and inspiring role models for students and other professionals.
The 2017 Award Recipients
Scientific Advancement in STEM:
Emily Fox, MEng, EE, Ph.D.; Amazon Professor of Machine Learning, University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering and Statistics
Excellence in Science Education:
Alyssa Taylor, Ph.D.; Senior Lecturer, University of Washington Bioengineering
Excellence in Science Outreach:
Claudia Ludwig, MEd; Director, Systems Education Experiences
Institute for Systems Biology
The AWIS Banquet is also a fundraiser for AWIS undergraduate scholarships.  Donations can be made online at the time banquet tickets are purchased.
We hope you and your colleagues will join us for a very special evening of celebration and inspiration.  More information is available at
Encourage your workplace to become a table sponsor to show support for women in science.  For more information or to become a table sponsor, please contact Reitha Weeks at

Thank you to our major Scholarship Donor:  Battelle

Announcements and opportunities

  • Volunteer with Pacific Science Center
Join our team and volunteer at Pacific Science Center! Help the Science Center further our mission to ignite curiosity in every child and fuel a passion for discovery, experimentation and critical thinking in all of us. We are looking for people who are passionate about STEM fields and want to share their passion with the public. We have open volunteer opportunities in our Science Interpretation, Tinker Tank, and Guest Services departments. To find out more information about the volunteer program, specific volunteer opportunities or to apply online, visit our website at or email the Volunteer Program at
  •  Tinker Tank Facilitator Volunteer (Adult/18+) at Pacific Science Center
Do you enjoy sharing your passion for making things, tinkering with objects, building with mechanical parts or experimenting with electronics? Pacific Science Center seeks engaging volunteers in facilitating inside Tinker Tank, a space which aims to inspire visitors to explore new ideas through hands-on, open-ended design experiences – using their hands, tools, and imaginations!
Tinker Tank Facilitator Volunteers will work directly with visitors of all ages to facilitate open-ended maker activities inside Tinker Tank. Facilitator Volunteers play a crucial role in the exploration process as they help people iterate and creatively problem solve. They will also have the chance to help shape this space as it continues to grow and will be a critical part of introducing new activities. Additional duties include greeting and helping our guests to provide the best possible Pacific Science Center experience. Creative, outgoing and enthusiastic individuals are well suited for this position. We ask that volunteers make a commitment of at least ten, five-hour shifts. Application and training required.
  • TAF Academy needs judges for STEM senior projects on June 1st
    Current professionals and college students are encouraged to sign up to be judges for individual and group senior projects at
    TAF Academy (26720 40th Ave S., Kent, WA 98032) on Thursday, June 1st, 5:30-8:30 pm.
    Judging criteria will be provided.  Project categories include behavior and social sciences, engineering, computer science, alternative energy and physical sciences.

    For more information or to volunteer, contact Stephana Sneed, TAF Development Associate, at

  • Volunteer with AWIS! join our board and participate in any of our committees 
 You can serve for an entire year or a single event or task! Volunteer as much, or as little, time as your schedule permits!
You will gain experience and meet very talented women who share your interest in increasing support, visibility and leadership opportunities for women in science in our community.
Sign up for a committee today! 
See the Board list with committee chairs at

We have 9 exciting committees that we have described below. We hope you can bring your talents and take this opportunity to volunteer with a committee and more deeply engage in our chapter. 

Event/Program Committee:
The Event Committee is one of the most active and exciting parts of our organization.  This committee plans our monthly, public programs as well as quarterly networking and social events.  Your ideas for speakers and programs are welcome and your help in setting up and facilitating the events is desired.  Whether it is lining up speakers, preparing event flyers and communications, or arranging event logistics, your help would be appreciated for a single event or a year’s worth of events.
Our chapter has been awarding scholarships to undergrad women in STEM since 1990.  The scholarships are awarded in June but it is a year-round effort to find sponsors, publicize the program, and interview and select the winners.  Volunteers are inspired by the scholarship candidates that they read about and meet through the selection process.  Volunteers are particularly needed in the fall to publicize the program and in the spring to select the scholarship recipients.
Banquet and Awards
Our annual banquet with awards for scientific advancement and leadership will be held in June.  It is a year-long planning and fundraising effort for a wonderful evening honoring outstanding women scientists in our community.  Committee members plan and organize the banquet - from fundraising and publicity to finding a venue and determining program details.  Committee members also publicize nominations, review nominees and select recipients of the annual awards.  Make use of your organizational skills – join the Banquet and Awards Committee!

We want the community to know about our chapter activities!  Many of our events are open to the public and provide an opportunity to recruit new members who support our mission and want to meet like-minded women.  Committee members identify community groups and online calendars through which announcements and articles can be submitted.  Your writing, graphic design and networking skills can be put to great use.
GEMS is a science enrichment program for 7th and 8th-grade girls in Seattle public schools.  The goal of the program is to encourage girls to maintain and broaden their interest in STEM subjects by providing mentoring, hands-on activities, field trips, and information pertaining to a variety of scientific fields.  The GEMS meet one evening per month and attend field trips Oct. through June.  There are two GEMS groups – one that meets at FHCRC and one at South Seattle College in West Seattle.  Committee members publicize and recruit students through the schools, plan and lead the monthly programs and organize field trips.  It is an opportunity to be a mentor, educator and role model for middle school girls.  You will work with other talented women and gain practice explaining science to a young, enthusiastic audience!
Group Mentoring
Our mentoring program focuses on career growth and problem-solving in a supportive and fun environment.  Participants are in Mentoring Groups of 5-7 women in STEM committed to meeting monthly to support one another with advice, encouragement, and information regarding professional development.  Each group is coordinated by at least one experienced mentor.  Groups are matched based on interest, career goals, and other factors.  The committee is responsible for publicizing the program, recruiting mentors and participants, assigning and following up with the groups, and planning multiple events during the year for all participants. 
Our website is our chapter’s public face and we want it to be welcoming and informative!  We could use volunteers to assist in updating the content covering chapter and community events.  Website experience would be wonderful but not essential to be on this committee.
Chapter and National AWIS membership supports women in STEM in many ways and encouraging more women (and men) to become members enhances the networking and educational value of membership.  Our Membership Committee produces flyers, answers questions and recruits new members at chapter events.  They work with National AWIS keeping our membership database up-to-date and they manage our “chapter-only” student membership database.
Copyright © 2014 AWIS Seattle Chapter, All rights reserved.
Design: Graciela Matrajt
Editorial Handling: Graciela  Matrajt

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Association for Women in Science Seattle Chapter · 1234 50th street · Seattle, Wa 98105 · USA

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