Maria Mitchell Association Women in Science and Engineering Symposium



    In October 2018, the Nantucket Maria Mitchell Association (MMA) will offer a two-day symposium honoring the life, legacy, and work of America’s first woman astronomer and first female professor of astronomy, Maria Mitchell (1818-1889).

    Mitchell believed in hands-on, lifelong learning for all with a focus on the sciences and more specifically women in the sciences and education. She went on to inspire not just the budding young female scientists of her day, but all women and girls who wished to break the barriers of the spheres in which society tried to encapsulate them.  As a way to celebrate Mitchell’s legacy and her 200th birthday, and to serve as an inspiration and support for women working and teaching in the sciences, technology, mathematics, engineering, and all walks of scientific disciplines, the MMA, and its partners will bring together women involved in the sciences.

    This gathering will feature keynote speakers and a series of lectures, meetings, roundtables, and salon-style groups. The Symposium is designed to serve as a source of inspiration and support and to be a hands-on experience in which all attendees are actively participating and problem-solving. Attendees will include women and men of all backgrounds and interests at all levels of education and experience. The MMA envisions that this Symposium will be the first of a bi-annual event. This first Symposium will meet at the Babson Executive Conference Center in Wellesley, Massachusetts. To ensure that the solutions and plans that are devised at this Symposium reach beyond the meeting and take root, the MMA will disseminate the information created via social media and through papers in appropriate journals.

    The inaugural speakers will include:

    • World-renown author Dava Sobel, who recently published The Glass Universe, which includes a discussion of the Maria Mitchell Association;
    • Jill Tarter, PhD, an astronomer, who was the Director of SETI (Search for Extraterrestrial Intelligence) until her recent retirement and is most recognized as the inspiration for Carl Sagan’s book, Contact; and
    • Meg Urrey, PhD, the Israel Munson Professor of Physics at Yale University, who studies actively accreting supermassive black holes, also known as Active Galactic Nuclei (AGN), and the co-evolution of these black holes with normal galaxies. Urrey is the recent past President of the American Astronomical Society (2014-2016) and is an active proponent of women in STEM issues.

    KIETS support is leveraged with support from Mount Holyoke College, the Dana Farber Cancer Institute, The Nantucket Conservation Foundation, the American Astronomical Society, Vassar College, the Linda Loring Nature Foundation, and