The #FemSTEMSymposium is a collaboration between me and Dr. Andrea Bruder (Associate Dean of the Faculty and Associate Professor of Math and Computer Science at Colorado College) designed to illustrate how the interdisciplinary study of power and inequity necessitates pedagogical and scholarly collaboration among intellectuals in myriad fields within and outside of the academy, not just those that may be more obviously connected than others.
The symposium includes free and open lectures and convergence classes co-taught by Colorado College professors across disciplines intended to help audiences better examine the crises of our times, particularly those relevant to the relationships between feminism, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
This year’s event, MATTER AND MEANING: Transdisciplinary Collaboration as Feminist Practice, was organized by Dr. Rushaan Kumar, Assistant Professor of Feminist & Gender Studies, and Dr. Natalie Gosnell, Assistant Professor of Physics. “MATTER AND MEANING,” a nod to Meeting the Universe Halfway by Dr. Karen Barad, entailed Dr. Gosnell and Visiting Artist Janani Balasubramanian delivering a shared talk based on their 5+ year collaboration across art, astrophysics, and the spaces between and beyond. They discussed the intentions, mechanics, and benefits of sustaining a long-term and rigorous practice of co-creation across disciplines and spoke to how their work activates many of the strategies advocated by scholars in feminist science and technology studies. Gosnell and Balasubramanian also presented a talk on their project The Gift, an immersive installation at the Colorado College Fine Arts Center.
This year, the symposium will feature Natural Killer cell enthusiast Dr. Bérénice Mbiribindi Nvunabandi, Principal Scientific Researcher in Translational Oncology at Genentech and member of the #BlackInImmuno Board of Directors. After earning her Ph.D. in Infection, Inflammation, and Immunity from the University of Southampton in the United Kingdom, Dr. Nvunabandi also completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the Stanford University School of Medicine’s Transplant Immunology Lab. Special thanks to Dr. Olivia Hatton, Associate Professor of Molecular Biology at Colorado College, for organizing this year’s events.
This year, the symposium will feature a webinar, “Race, Racism, & Vaccines,” hosted by me and Dr. Neena Grover (Professor of Biochemistry & Chemistry at Colorado College) and facilitated by students in my Black Feminist Theory course and her Biochemistry II course. In my Black Feminist Theory course, students converse with key Black feminists, such as bell hooks, Patricia Hill Collins, Audre Lorde, and Alice Walker, to discuss Black women’s relationships with Black men, motherhood, work inside and outside of the home, religion and spirituality, and other concerns. In Dr. Grover’s (pictured left) Biochemistry II course, students students study how HIV-1 and Coronavirus work and how they cause AIDS and COVID-19, as well as the ways medicines and vaccines work. They also examine the history of science and the current state of science to understand the differences in outcomes of diseases, development of medicine, and reasons for skepticism in particular communities.
This year, the symposium featured a talk by Cynthia Chapple, Founder and Managing Director of Black Girls Do STEM (BGDS), which was created to provide middle school-aged Black girls with opportunities to learn, create, and build confidence in their abilities to become STEM professionals while they are still curious and excited to learn new things. In addition to giving her talk and leading a convergence class with my Feminist Theory students and Kadari Taylor-Watson’s Black Feminist Theory students, Ms. Chapple, who was a student in my after school program, The Tarajia Project, for Black girls at Lafayette Jefferson High School in Lafayette, IN, also conducted a workshop entitled “Biotechnology: DNA Extraction” for Black girls at Horizon Middle School in District 49, where my daughter was in 8th grade at the time and where my son attended middle school for all three years. Thank you to Assistant Principal Elizabeth Dalzell-Wagers for her support with co-organizing this event.
This year, the symposium featured a talk by Dr. Rachel Ivie, Director of the Statistical Research Center at the American Institute of Physics, organized and hosted by Dr. Kristine Lang, Associate Professor of Physics at Colorado College; followed by a Spring 2019 talk by Dr. Deboleena Roy, Chair and Associate Professor of Women’s, Gender, & Sexuality Studies and Associate Professor of Neuroscience and Behavioral Biology at Emory University, organized in large part by Malone DeYoung (Feminist & Gender Studies ’20) and especially Nan Elpers (Psychology major and Feminist & Gender Studies minor ’20), then Co-Chairs of the Feminist Collective (FemCo) at Colorado College.
2017-2018 (Inaugural Year)
We kicked off the symposium with a talk by Dr. Samantha Blackmon, Associate Professor of English at Purdue University and Co-Founder of Not Your Mamma’s Gamer; followed by a talk co-sponsored by the Harold D. and Rhoda N. Roberts Memorial Fund Lecture featuring Dr. Talithia Williams, Associate Professor of Mathematics and Associate Dean for Research and Experiential Learning at Harvey Mudd College and host of PBS’ NOVA Wonders; and we concluded with a screening of Hidden Figures followed by a discussion featuring me, Professor Bruder, and Desirae Martinez (Class of 2013), the first Colorado College student to graduate with a major in Mathematics and a minor in Feminist & Gender Studies.