|Photo: Steve McCaw
To celebrate Women’s History Month 2010 and to recognize the contributions of women in science, NIEHS turned to one of its own to deliver the ninth annual Spirit Lecture—Dr. Linda Birnbaum, director of NIEHS and the National Toxicology Program.
Birnbaum spoke about her life and work during a recent presentation titled “You Can Have It All,” cosponsored by the NIEHS Diversity Council and Women Scientists Assembly. Along with discussing their professional interests and concerns, Spirit Lecture speakers typically address the theme of women in science balancing the needs of self, work and family. The lecture series began in 2002.
“What for me is synonymous with ‘spirit’ is fun,” Birnbaum said. “I’ve always done things that I enjoy, fulfilling my love of science, keeping involved with the community and, of course, my family.” She reflected on her passion for the love of her life, for her profession and for her family, as well as the challenge of making time for the important things in life—even when that meant putting her career on hold temporarily.
“Enjoy what you do with a passion,” Birnbaum told her audience. Surround everything you do with passion, and life turns out pretty good. If you’re not having fun, you’d better be doing something else.”
With the same level of energy and enthusiasm she brought to her personal narrative, Birnbaum turned to her work as NIEHS/NTP director, pursuing improvements in public health locally, nationally and globally. She described the institute’s successes and ongoing efforts to raise “awareness of the linkages between the environment and health” and to help scientists and citizens “think [more carefully and consistently] about research from a multi-stakeholder perspective.”—