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Vol. LX, No. 10
May 16, 2008
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NIEHS Marks International Women’s Day


NIEHS recently celebrated International Women’s Day, an event highlighting the scientific and personal achievements of foreign-born women scientists working in NIH labs in Research Triangle Park, N.C.

Dr. Sharon Hrynkow
Dr. Sharon Hrynkow

Four scientists—Dr. Maria Kadiiska, Dr. Harriet Kinyamu, Dr. Xiaoling Li and Dr. Ivana Yang—gave 20-minute talks that conveyed their love of science and discussed the challenges they’ve overcome as they have succeeded in their fields. A panel discussion and networking reception followed the presentations.

The lead organizer of Women’s History Month events at the institute, NIEHS associate director Dr. Sharon Hrynkow, welcomed the audience and discussed the background and purpose of the celebration. “International Women’s Day has been recognized globally as a time to reflect on progress, to call for change and to celebrate acts of courage and determination of ordinary women who have made extraordinary achievements,” she said.

The panelists, like many other foreign-born scientists, had to overcome a host of roadblocks on the path to success. But their hard work, strength and optimism—traits common to many women trailblazers— carried them through. Obstacles included career change in a new country for a family with growing children; genocide, war and lack of ability to communicate with loved ones still at home; the hurdle of learning English as an adult; and visa issues that nearly led to deportation.

Each of the women had two things in common: a passion for scientific investigation that inspired them to make major sacrifices for their careers and an uncanny knack for recognizing the opportunity that lay hidden in the obstacles they faced. Today, with their greatest non-scientific challenges behind them, Kadiiska, Kinyamu and Yang are staff scientists and Li is a principal investigator and head of her research group.—
The International Women’s Day panel included (from l) Dr. Ivana Yang, Dr. Maria Kadiiska, Dr. Xiaoling Li and Dr. Harriet Kinyamu.
The International Women’s Day panel included (from l) Dr. Ivana Yang, Dr. Maria Kadiiska, Dr. Xiaoling Li and Dr. Harriet Kinyamu.

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