Notes From A Queer Engineer: A Volcanologist Heartthrob and Goodbye to Cassini

Notes From A Queer Engineer_Rory Midhani_640

Header by Rory Midhani

Feature image credit: NASA/JPL-Caltech/Space Science Institute/Jason Major. This mosaic made from raw images acquired by Cassini is the last close-up image of Saturn we’ll get for a long time. It’s the final full image from September 13, 2017, as Cassini made its dive into the planet’s atmosphere. 

Hello barnacles! Do any of you work with Excel a lot? I do, and one of my favorite things is to watch other people futzing around in spreadsheets so I can see the shortcuts they use. Last week I learned that you can press CTRL+(semi-colon) to get today’s date. Another favorite: CTRL+(down arrow) gets you to the last entry of whatever contiguous data set you’re working in. Small good things to cling to!

I’ve been aggressively expanding my comfort zone at work recently and it sometimes makes me feel like my lungs are collapsing but I am gonna STICK IT OUT and GROW. Hope you all learn something interesting today!

Lady Scientists

+ New podcast “Ologies” with Alie Ward interviews volcanologist Jess Phoenix. Swooning so hard right now.

+ Women Force of Open Source: Hong Phuc Dang (Video)

+ Pioneer botanist Elizabeth Herriott was the first woman to be appointed to the teaching staff at Canterbury University Colle

+ Biologist Danielle N. Lee is #59 in The Root 100

+ Verena Haunschmid on her experiences as a first time rOpenSci package reviewer

+ Carolyn Porco, who led the imaging science team on the Cassini mission, reflects on its remarkable success

+ This Week In Science interviews Emily Lakdawalla on the end of the Cassini Mission


+ Laura Doering and Sarah Thébaud: How gender bias negatively affects women and men

When men stepped in to work with clients who had initially worked with a male loan manager, clients were highly compliant with their directives. But when men were paired with clients who had initially worked with female loan managers, clients afforded them significantly less authority.

This finding runs contrary to the dominant narrative around gender bias. Gender bias doesn’t merely disadvantage women. It also disadvantages men when they work in roles that are associated with women and femininity. This finding is important because it raises one possible reason why some men resist pursuing female-dominated occupations: not only are these jobs paid less, on average, but the men who pursue gender atypical paths may also experience a loss in social status at work.

+ Disappearance of right whales from winter breeding grounds a mystery for scientists

+ Public trust in science news is dangerously low

+ Nature has published a truly awful editorial encouraging [mostly women] scientists to take side jobs to cover their living expenses

+ Rose Eveleth: Why I No Longer Do Internet Harassment Talks

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Katharine McCormick was an American Biologist, who revolutionised education for women in the US, being the second woman to graduate from MIT with a degree in biology. After her husband’s death in 1947, part of his wealth was given to McCormick, and she subsequently donated some of the money to fund research into the contraceptive pill, as well as to aid in building a woman’s dormitory at MIT. Furthermore, she was also the vice president of the National American Woman Suffrage, making her a prominent suffragette in American history. . It was through her generous donations and contributions to women’s rights that allowed feminism to be where it is today. . #Repost @femawarenessproject #FemAwarenessProject #MuseMonday #feminism #feminist #equality #girlpower #womensrights #empower #rolemodels #katharinemccormick #suffrage #suffragette #contraceptivepill #MIT #pioneer

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Can’t Hold Us Down

+ Dr. Imogen R. Coe: “How diversity makes science work better”

+ Te Awaroa inspiring kiwis to take care of their waterways

+ Here are some free to print 11×17 inch posters to show students math is still happening and by diverse researchers

Geekery Grab Bag

+ Scientists Don’t Want You to Call Cassini’s End a ‘Suicide’

Still, several Cassini scientists I’ve recently spoken with have invoked death in their thoughts on the mission’s end. One likened the end of the mission to a wake or memorial service. Another said that the end of Cassini’s signal transmission would be like “watching somebody’s EKG and waiting for their last heartbeat to come.” A third sent me a quote from Johann Wolfgang von Goethe’s Faust in the original German, which, depending on your translation, declares: “I am the Spirit that Denies! / And justly so: for all things, from the Void / Called forth, deserve to be destroyed.”

+ Where Do Birds Go In A Hurricane?

+ A Scientist’s Guide to the Coziest Sweaters

Do Make Say Think

+ Applications for the Science Ambassador Scholarship (a full–tuition scholarship for a woman in STEM) are open from now until December 11th, 2017.

+ Hey, do you know anyone looking for engineering work in the Boston area? I’m hiring a quality engineer and a data scientist for my team. Message me!

Notes From A Queer Engineer is a recurring column with an expected periodicity of 14 days. The subject matter may not be explicitly queer, but the industrial engineer writing it sure is. This is a peek at the notes she’s been doodling in the margins.

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Laura Mandanas

Laura Mandanas is a Filipina American living in Boston. By day, she works as an industrial engineer. By night, she is beautiful and terrible as the morn, treacherous as the seas, stronger than the foundations of the Earth. All shall love her and despair. Follow her: @LauraMWrites.

Laura has written 210 articles for us.


  1. Ooh I love the downloadable prints of mathematicians. Does anyone know of a (free) similar download file for scientists? My partner teaches high school science and this would be a great addition to her classroom :)

  2. Hey also! This isn’t particularly related to STEM, but Mey and I are going to be in a book and the Kickstarter launched today! If you’re interested, you can pre-order here.

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