Science evangelist Ainissa Ramirez introduces the people behind important inventions and explores the broader societal impact of their work
By Shannon Sigafoos
How have eight inventions—clocks, steel rails, copper communication cables, photographic film, light bulbs, hard disks, scientific labware, and silicon chips—shaped the human experience? These materials not only changed how we live, but several of their inventors were women and people of color who had a significant impact and whose accomplishments have largely remained hidden.
There is a power in telling inclusive stories about science and technology, and in remembering that innovation is universal. That’s the message award-winning scientist and science communicator Ainissa Ramirez, Ph.D., shares in her latest book, The Alchemy of Us: How Humans and Matter Transformed One Another, which she will discuss with the Lafayette community on Tuesday, Sept. 28 at 7 p.m. The event, which is sponsored by the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education and the Landis Speaker Series, is hybrid, free, and open to the public (register to attend).
In Alchemy, Ramirez introduces the people behind important inventions and provides vivid details about who they were and what made them tick—all while exploring the broader societal impact of their inventions.
Here are three reasons to add this event to your calendar:
“Dr. Ramriez is an engaging speaker who communicates broadly about STEM fields. I’m thrilled that the Lafayette community will get to interact with this award-winning scientist and speaker,” says Wendy Hill, co-director of the Hanson Center and visiting professor and Rappolt Professor Emeritus of Neuroscience. “Dr. Ramirez explores not just the science behind these innovations, but the process of science and the stories we tell about this work,” Hill notes. “The Alchemy of Us broadens our knowledge about who contributed to these scientific advances. Her message really resonates with the mission of the Hanson Center to advance inclusive excellence in STEM.”
Ramirez wants students to know that using science, technology, and math, they have the tools to change the world and solve real-world problems. She is a sought-after speaker who brings to life the excitement of discovery in science. Her podcast, Science Underground, explains science in fun and relatable ways.
Alchemy was listed on Behavioral Scientist Notable Books of 2020, Big Think 10 Best Science and Technology Books of 2020, Science News Favorite Books of 2020, Smithsonian Magazine 10 Best Science Books of 2020, Amazon Best Science Books of 2020, was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Book Prize, and won the AAAS/Subaru Science Book Prize and the 2021-22 Brown University Book Award. The Alchemy of Us is Ramirez’s third book; she is the author of Newton’s Football: The Science of America’s Game and Save Our Science: How to Inspire a New Generation of Scientists. She’s also written for a number of magazines and journals.
About the Hanson Center for Inclusive STEM Education
Lafayette’s Daniel and Heidi Hanson ’91 Center for Inclusive STEM Education is a hub for community and collaboration, coordinating support for students and faculty in STEM with excluded identities, faculty development of inclusive pedagogies and curricula, and faculty research in inclusive education and STEM studies. It is co-directed by Hill and Jenn Stroud Rossmann, Baird Professor of Mechanical Engineering.
About Dr. Ainissa Ramirez
Dr. Ainissa Ramirez is passionate about getting the general public excited about science. A graduate of Brown University, she earned her doctorate in materials science and engineering from Stanford. Ramirez started her career as a scientist at Bell Laboratories in Murray Hill, New Jersey, and later worked as an associate professor of mechanical engineering at Yale University.
The College’s Inclusive STEM initiative involves making STEM programs, classrooms, and cultures more inclusive as well as fostering cross-College and interdisciplinary work related to STEM programs, culture, and socio-cultural content