We were all inspired by Greta Thunberg’s daring speech at the UN Climate Action Summit last year. As a sixteen-year-old girl, she gave a stirring call for action to address the climate crisis and led a global youth movement to combat climate change. If all women and men take action like Greta Thunberg, we will resolve the climate crisis. On the occasion of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science on February 11, we at Zero Hour would like to feature three outstanding female scientists who are among many at the forefront of the fight against climate change. Their incredible experiences should inspire girls and boys around the world to pursue careers in climate science.
Meet Dr. Inez Fung, a Professor of Atmospheric Science at the University of California,
Berkeley and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. She is a pioneer in climate modeling and has done extensive research on biogeochemical cycles and climate change. Prof. Fung contributed to the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) Third and Fourth Assessment reports. She was one of the 18 scientists who filed an amicus curiae brief in Massachusetts vs U.S. Environmental Protection Agency to advocate for the regulation of carbon dioxide emissions. A native of Hong Kong, Fung was the second woman to receive a Doctor of Science in Meteorology from Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1977. When I met her last summer, I was immediately drawn to her boundless curiosity and passion for science. “I like studying the Earth because Earth presents endless puzzles that intrigue me. There is an order in the way parts of the Earth work together - the atmosphere, the oceans, the land, the biosphere, the chemistry, the physics. To be able to express the order in mathematical equations is elegant. When I think I have understood a small question, a new one presents itself.” said Prof. Fung. Her latest endeavor is to encourage girls to pursue science. She firmly believes that everyone should have opportunities to enjoy science and that everyone has the capabilities to contribute to advance science.
Meet Dr. Patricia Glibert, a Professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Prof. Glibert is a world leader on harmful algal blooms (HABs). She has investigated HABs in coastal waters and lakes around the world and found that the frequency and severity of HABs have increased globally due to population growth and agriculture production. Her recent research shows that climate change such as warming and extreme precipitation can lead to more frequent and widespread HABs. I worked with her on modeling toxic HABs on the West Florida Shelf and was inspired by her passion and dedication to scientific research. Glibert received her Ph.D. in organismal and evolutionary biology at Harvard University in 1982. “When I first entered the field of oceanography, I was one of just a few women. It was not unusual for me to be the only woman on a cruise (60 days across the Indian Ocean, for example), the only woman at a national meeting, the only woman at a workshop. I look around now at our students and see mostly female faces. What a change! What a great change! There are so many challenges with pollution, climate change, and the oceans. Many career options are available for girls and boys interested in science and math.” said Prof. Glibert.
Meet Dr. Elizabeth North, an Associate Professor at the University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science. After completing a B.A. degree in Religion, she found her passion in environmental science and obtained a Ph.D. in the Marine-Estuarine-Environmental Science at the University of Maryland, College Park. She has conducted extensive research on biological- physical interactions and fisheries oceanography. Recently, she is exploring how to make use of Earth’s natural carbon sinks to sequester carbon and reverse climate change. She is working on a technology that uses algae to form calcium carbonate from dissolved carbon dioxide in water.
Speaking about the motivations behind her research, Dr. North said, “I don’t want to stand by and watch the people and land that I care so deeply about go underwater because we’ve shifted our atmosphere out of balance.” Dr. North is actively involved in science communication: “By reaching outside of science, I get to learn about problems that people really need help solving and how to offer solutions in a way that is most helpful.” Profs. Fung, Glibert, and North are all making a difference with their research on climate change.
When girls and boys around the world follow their footsteps, we can overcome the greatest challenge facing humankind: we can halt and reverse climate change. Yes, we can!
About the Author
Marvin Li is the Editor of Zero Hour Medium blog. Li is a member of Zero Hour and from Salisbury, Maryland.