“You Can’t Be What You Can’t See”

The lack of representation in STEM is an issue that affects everyone in science. One of the goals of the SHIELD Drive Science Center is to address this issue by giving a spotlight to people who come from diverse backgrounds.

If you would like to share your story, more information can be found here.


Aislynn Wallach
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington
Undergrad Institution: University of Washington – Astronomy,     Physics
Current School: Boston University
Research: Magnetic fields of white dwarfs
Hobbies: Baking, Musical Theatre
Current City: Boston, MA
“It was really helpful to have a community outside of science who understood me not just as a scientist but as a person, that could understand what I was going through”
Learn more about Aislynn’s experience here


Connor O’Brien
Birthplace: San Francisco, California
Undergrad Institution: University of Minnesota – Physics, Math, and Astrophysics
Current School: Boston University
Research: Earth’s Magnetosphere and Space Physics Hardware
Hobbies: Former professional baker and pop-up kitchen chef, current hobbyist chef
Current City: Brighton, MA
Personal Website: http://blogs.bu.edu/obrienco/
“As much as the sciences pride itself on being progressive and smart, it’s still very tough and in many ways tougher to be a queer person in the sciences”
Learn more about Connor’s experience here


Sheng Huang
Birthplace: Yuyao, Zhejiang Province, China
Undergrad Institution: University of Science and Technology of China (USTC) – Space Physics
Current School: Boston University
Research: applying machine learning to space physics
Hobbies: Video games
Current City: Boston, MA
“During my last 10 years, I have made so many decisions without fully understanding what it means when I made it but luckily most of them proved to be good later”
Learn more about Sheng’s experience here


Bryanne McDonough
Birthplace: Springfield, MA
Undergraduate Institution: Rochester Institute of Technology – Physics
Current School: Boston University
Research: focus on extragalactic astrophysics
Hobbies: Reading and crafting
Current city: Boston, MA
Personal Website: http://blogs.bu.edu/bnmcd/
“I didn’t want my gender to play a role in my decision and knew that I could be part of the solution if I was able to become a female scientist and reach out to others”
Learn more about Bryanne’s experience here


Rebecca Harvey
Birthplace: Arkansas, USA
Undergrad Institution: Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University – Space Physics & Computational Mathematics double major
Current School: University of Alabama in Huntsville – MS, PhD Space Science
Research: turbulence, flux ropes
Current City: Huntsville, AL
“I don’t ever plan on giving up on my dream of becoming a research scientist and working in the space field, but I just know that I’m going to try and work through whatever comes my way”
Learn more about Rebecca’s experience here


Stephen Lesage
Birthplace: Westwood, MA
Undergraduate University: The College of Charleston – Physics, Astrophysics, minor in Mathematics
Current School: The University of Alabama in Huntsville
Research: Gamma-Ray Bursts
Hobbies: Powerlifting
Current City: Huntsville AL
“When I was going through the sciences, my family..couldn’t help..and the learning disabilities made everything so much tougher..but I’ve learned to like the way my brain works because when I finally understand it, I really understand it”
Learn more about Stephen’s experience here


Dr. Mehmet Sarp Yalim
Birthplace: Ankara, Turkey
Undergraduate Institution: Middle East Technical University – Mechanical Engineering
Grad School: Middle East Technical University – M.S. in Mechanical Engineering, Von Karman Institute for Fluid Dynamics – Aeronautical & Aerospace Engineering, Free University of Brussels – Ph.D. in Engineering Sciences
Research: Observational solar physics, modeling of solar chromosphere and corona, space weather, turbulence, computational fluid dynamics, numerical methods, scientific code development, high-performance computing.
Hobbies: Singing (in a choir), playing the guitar, swimming
Current city: Huntsville, AL
“This job has been very rewarding for me, it’s like a dream come true for me”
Learn more about Mehmet’s experience here

Samira Tasnim
Birthplace: Dhaka, Bangladesh
Undergrad Institution: Jahangirnagar University – Physics
Current School: The University of Sydney -School of Physics
Research: Space Physics – solar wind, turbulence, radio waves, plasma physics
Hobbies: Traveling, Dancing, Cooking
Current City: Huntsville, AL
“I realized it is very important to believe in ourselves and always think positively, in my case, it was one of the biggest lessons of my life”
Learn more about Samira’s experience here

Erick Powell
Birthplace: Seattle, Washington
Undergrad InstitutionWestern Washington University – Physics, Applied Math with a minor in Astronomy
Current School: Graduate student at Boston University studying how to apply what we know about the heliosphere to astrospheres
Hobbies: Working out, Annoying his cat
Current city: Boston, MA
Personal website: blogs.bu.edu/empowell/
“It was great to have these people that I could rely on, that were going through the same things as me… it made everything easier because you knew you weren’t doing it alone, and that’s what I was really missing as a first-generation student”
Learn more about Erick’s experience here