By the Editorial Staff
Want to know what it takes to run the largest undergraduate women in science organization at Harvard? Meet Jennifer Cloutier and Swara Kopparty, co-presidents of Women in Science and Engineering at Harvard-Radcliffe (WISHR). Get the inside scoop on what these impressive campus leaders like to do for fun, who they look to for inspiration, and more in our exclusive interview below!
Women in Science at Harvard-Radcliffe, WISHR, founded in 1989, is a multi-faceted organization devoted to fostering a sense of community and solidarity among undergraduate women engaged in science at Harvard College. WISHR is the largest organization on campus that seeks to address the political, social and academic concerns of undergraduate women in the sciences. Towards this goal, WISHR sponsors academic, career, and public service programs, creates mentoring networks with graduate and professional level women, and serves as a multi-disciplinary resource for those pursuing the sciences. WISHR not only provides a support network and resource base, but also fosters discussion on women's issues and provides inspiration and encouragement for those pursuing science-related careers. To get involved in WISHR, visit their website.
Swara Kopparty Jennifer Cloutier
Applied Math Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology
Harvard Class of 2012 Harvard Class of 2013
Tell us about yourself!
SK: I’m Swara Kopparty and I’m a senior in Kirkland House at Harvard, concentrating in Applied Math with a focus in Computer Science and Economics. I am excited to be talking with WISE Words!
JC: My name is Jennifer Cloutier and I am a junior living in Quincy House at Harvard College. I am studying Human Developmental and Regenerative Biology and hope to pursue a career in either medicine or biological research. In my spare time, I compete for Canada’s water skiing team and run the Blues department at WHRB Harvard radio. I also like to paint and cook!
How did you decide to get involved in WISHR?
SK: I have always been interested in science and mathematics, and I have participated in research camps (Research Science Institute at MIT and International Summer Science Institute in Weismann in Israel) in the past where I got the chance to engage with others who had similar interests. I really enjoyed the group atmosphere and realized how enriching it is to join communities of young scientists! I got involved during my sophomore year, as a part of the Community Service Committee. I wanted to be a part of a network of women scientists at Harvard and saw WISHR as an avenue to do so. I was also excited about being involved in a wide variety of activities from speaker seminars, to community service events, to interacting more with Harvard professors.
JC: I applied to be a part of the NSAWS (National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science) speaker committee and based off of my application was asked to be the WISHR speaker series committee chair. I became very involved over the year with the two positions and felt like I wanted to continue that trend when I ran for WISHR Co-Presidency.
What is your favorite WISHR event?
SK: The National Symposium for the Advancement of Women in Science (NSAWS) is held every second year and is one of my favorite parts of WISHR. It is a weekend-long series of speaker events from imminent women scientists from across the country and WISHR and Harvard invite women science groups from other schools to participate. I believe it has a profound presence on our campus and really encourages the woman scientist community to network and discuss their common interests. The talks are insightful and interesting, and it was invigorating to be a part of such a large-scale event.
JC: NSAWS, hands down. It is a very special event that brings in speakers from across the nation to talk about their research and experiences through the lens of women scientists. It was inspirational to attend and very humbling to help organize.
When you are not being a Scientista, you are most likely…
SK: Exploring local coffeeshops, listening to music/reading, being active in some form or another.
JC: Water skiing or sleeping.
Which woman in science inspires you the most?
SK: Marie Curie. I read a small biography of hers when I was young, and her independence and drive really struck me.
JC: Elsie MacGill
Why do you think organizations like WISHR and the Scientista Foundation are important?
SK: Being a woman in science, especially in an underrepresented area, I think it is really important to have a place for women to network and support each other in their passion for learning and exploring the sciences. Having a community to reinforce interests really is the best way to encourage more women to join the sciences.
JC: I think they are important to foster a community and network among young scientists, to encourage their growth and future collaborations for the benefit of the field that they love.
What do you think is the most important scientific research or discovery going on today?
SK: It would be impossible for me to choose! I think that all up-and-coming research is important in its own right. I am fascinated by work in the intersection of CS and Economics, since I think that these topics are going to be very relevant to the way in which our increasingly technological society develops. I also feel that, on the other end of the spectrum, topics in cancer research are very important.
JC: I am personally very interested in research involving cellular reprogramming. I am currently working in the Hochedlinger lab at MGH to pursue a further understanding of these processes. I think that learning about reprogramming will reveal so much about development, stem cell biology and future possibilities in regenerative medicine.
Final ScientisTalk of the Semester!
When: 4/25, 6-70pm
Where: Lowell Small Dining Hall
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