Picture a Scientist Week to highlight diversity, equity in STEM beginning Feb. 6

Picture a Scientist Week, jointly sponsored by the Eberly College of Science and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, will feature events focused on celebrating diversity and equity in the STEM fields in conjunction with Black History Month. Virtual events will begin on Feb. 6 and will continue through Feb. 16. Credit: Penn StateCreative Commons

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — Just under half of the workforce in the United States are women yet they hold only 26% of the jobs in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Underrepresentation is even more pronounced in Black or African Americans, and Hispanic or Latinx who comprise only 7% and 9% of the STEM jobs, respectively.

Picture a Scientist Week, jointly sponsored by the Eberly College of Science and College of Earth and Mineral Sciences, will feature events focused on celebrating diversity and equity in the STEM fields in conjunction with Black History Month. Both colleges are committed to building an inclusive culture to help prepare students to live, work and lead in a global environment.

Beginning on Feb. 6, online screenings of the documentary “Picture a Scientist” will launch the virtual events that will continue through Feb. 16. Events are open to the public unless noted otherwise.

“Picture a Scientist” is a feature-length documentary film chronicling the groundswell of researchers who are writing a new chapter for women scientists. It features three prominent scientists at different points in their careers. Biologist Nancy Hopkins, chemist Raychelle Burks and geologist Jane Willenbring lead viewers on a journey deep into their own experiences in the sciences, overcoming brutal harassment, institutional discrimination and years of subtle slights to revolutionize the culture of science. From cramped laboratories to spectacular field stations, viewers will also encounter scientific luminaries who provide new perspectives on how to make science itself more diverse, equitable and open to all.

The documentary was an official selection of the 2020 Tribeca Film Festival, postponed due to the COVID-19 pandemic. Major funding for the film was provided by the Heising-Simons Foundation and the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. View the trailer here.

Picture a Scientist Week schedule of events

Feb. 6-11: “Picture a Scientist” documentary free-viewing sessions

The film will be available for screening through two viewing sessions, spanning Feb. 6, through Feb. 11. Registrants may watch the 97-minute film at their convenience during the session for which they have registered. Registration is required. Register online at this link.

Feb. 6: Empower Conference: Building Connections Through Community

Empower is a networking and professional development conference hosted annually by the State College chapter of the Graduate Women in Science (GWIS) for students, postdocs, faculty and professionals in the STEM fields. The conference starts at 8:30 a.m. and concludes at 4:30 p.m. Empower Conference registration is open until Feb 2. Participation is limited to Penn State students, faculty and staff. Register online at this link.

Feb. 10: Picture a Scientist Q&A with Jane Willenbring

Jane Willenbring, one of the scientists featured in the “Picture a Scientist” film, will be available for Q&A from 12:30 to 1:30 p.m. on Feb. 10. The session will be hosted by Miriam Freedman, associate professor of chemistry in the Eberly College of Science. Join the Zoom Q&A session at this link.

Feb. 10: Jane Willenbring, SAGF Lecture

The Science Achievement Graduate Fellows (SAGF) lecture will take place 2:30–4 p.m. on Feb. 10 and will feature Jane Willenbring, an associate professor of geological sciences at Stanford University and one of the scientists featured in the “Picture a Scientist” film. Willenbring’s research examines the evolution of the Earth’s surface, especially how landscapes are affected by tectonics, climate change, and life. She also organizes environmental justice campaigns around urban soil pollution and does outreach to help reduce sexual harassment and discrimination in STEM. Willenbring is a fellow of the Geological Society of America, recipient of the Antarctica Service Medal and a National Science Foundation Career Award, and in 2020 was named one of Stanford’s future Gabilan Faculty Fellows.

The SAGF Program awards graduate scholarships to doctoral students in Eberly and sponsors distinguished lectures featuring women who are prominent in their respective fields. The current scholarship holders select the lecturers and host the lectures. Join the lecture jointly hosted by the Eberly College of Science and Department of Chemistry on Zoom, at this link.

Feb. 11: Diversity in STEM Trivia Night

Join a pub-style trivia night on Zoom from 7 to 9 p.m. on Feb. 11 with the theme of diverse individuals in STEM throughout history. Teams of four to six participants will compete against each other to test their knowledge and have fun. Participants can sign up as an individual or as a team. If you are part of a team, only one sign up by the team captain is needed; please do not duplicate team registrations or register individually. Register online here.

Feb. 16: EMS Women Faculty Panel Discussion

Join a panel discussion about women in STEM with faculty in the College of Earth and Mineral Sciences. The college is celebrating its 125th anniversary throughout 2021 and this event is one of the first events honoring the 125th anniversary. As the college looks back commemorating its accomplishments, it is also looking forward to what it wants to become. An important part of that mission is building a more equitable and anti-racist college and University. This event is organized by the college’s We Are for Science Fellows group. Panelists include:

  • Nasim Alem, associate professor of materials science and engineering
  • Susan Brantley, distinguished professor of geosciences and director of Penn State’s Earth and Environmental Systems Institut
  • Zuleima Karpyn, associate dean for graduate education and research in EMS and professor of petroleum and natural gas engineering

Panel discussion will be held virtually on Zoom at 7 p.m. on Feb. 16. Join the panel at this link.

For more information, visit the Picture a Scientist Week at

Last Updated April 15, 2021