Women in STEAM (science, tech, engineering, arts, math and medicine) are rocking it in the world today, doing excellent but often under-promoted work. We want more people to know about these women and their work, including girls who might dream of careers in STEAM fields! That is the goal of our “living” Women in STEAM Lifeology card deck!

Each month, we feature new women in this living digital card deck, based on women nominated here. But all women nominated are also featured in this monthly Women in STEAM blog post.

We’ve also partnered with 500 Women Scientists to feature women from their gage search platform in a unique Lifeology card series, which we’ve now updated for January here!

We’ve featured two new inspirational women in our illustrated card decks for January!

Illustration of Natasha Aziz

Natasha Aziz is featured in our Women in STEAM deck. She is the Associate Director, Project and Portfolio Management at the Novartis Institutes for BioMedical Research. She helps to discover new medicines for people suffering from neglected infectious diseases such as Chagas disease and cryptosporidiosis. Many of the patients suffering from these diseases reside in resource-poor settings.

Infectious diseases kill over 8 million people each year – Natasha works in a team to develop medicines to treat such diseases and ultimately eliminate the pathogens that cause them.

Drug discovery is a complex endeavor, and it’s impossible for one person to discover and develop a medicine alone. This shifts the focus from how scientists are trained (focus on individual accomplishments) to a much more fun endeavor (focus on the patient) in which a multi-disciplinary team collaborates and synergizes to make an impact together.

When graduate students and postdocs reach out to me to find out what it’s like to have a ‘real job’, they are often surprised to hear how fun and collaborative a job in science can be. – Natasha Aziz

There are a wide variety of roles in science/drug discovery, allowing scientists to work in a wide variety of roles. Natasha is a PhD scientist with a background in oncogenic signaling. After working as a lab head, she had roles as a project team leader, in academic relations, operations, program development and scientific education. As a project manager, she now works with teams to define the scientific strategy, optimize team effectiveness, and support planning, risk management and definition of strategic options.

Launch Women in STEAM
Illustration of Harshini Mukundan by Anna Doherty

Dr. Harshini Mukundan is featured in our 500 Women Scientists Who Inspire deck. She is the team leader for the chemistry for biomedical applications team, and the deputy group leader for the Physical Chemistry and Applied Spectroscopy group within the Los Alamos National Laboratory, Los Alamos, New Mexico.

Harshini works on developing novel diagnostics that can be universally used for the identification of all infectious diseases, even newly emerging ones. The diagnostic approach is based on mimicking our immune recognition – which is a universal sensing system – in the laboratory. In addition to developing these methods, she also leads the development of sensor systems and tools to be able to use such diagnostics in resource-limited areas of the world. One aspect of the diagnostic platform, the universal bacterial sensor, won a RD100 in 2018. She is also a member of the gage search platform

Harshini’s work involves collaborating with lots of other people. She works alongside scientists in microbiology, medicine, engineering, chemistry, optics, physics, computational biology and bioscience.

“(I hope) perseverance and never giving up is something I have exemplified. Another paradigm I live by is that mistakes are the biggest learning opportunities in life – and it is ok to make them, so long as we learn from them. Finally, do not feel compelled to conform to societal norms – norms have to be rewritten for us to advance and progress as a society.” – Harshini

She has led and participated in projects aimed at developing rapid detection and diagnostics assays for breast cancer, influenza, toxic panels and others. She is passionate about STEM outreach and advocacy. She enjoys mentoring students and post-doctoral fellows and watching a new era of rising inspired scientists.

A fun fact about Harshini is that when she was younger, she wanted to be an actress – and loves dancing and drama to this day!

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