Entry for Ada Lovelace Day

Today is Ada Lovelace Day:

Ada Lovelace Day is an international day of blogging to draw attention to women excelling in technology.

Women’s contributions often go unacknowledged, their innovations seldom mentioned, their faces rarely recognised. We want you to tell the world about these unsung heroines. Entrepreneurs, innovators, sysadmins, programmers, designers, games developers, hardware experts, tech journalists, tech consultants. The list of tech-related careers is endless.

Since most of my role models who happen to be female are not really in any kind of tech career, I’m spared the need to write the enormous essay that it would take to cover them all. Instead I’ll point to just two for whom I can reasonably make a tech connection: Rosie Redfield and Maureen Hoatlin.
I’ve never met Rosie, who is a PI in the Zoology Department at University of British Columbia, but she is one of the first biomed researchers — if not the very first — to embrace Open Science and I’ve been following her online presence for a couple of years now. From her lab’s homepage you can read not just the usual list of publications and personnel, but also submitted research proposals and work in progress. The latter is communicated by blog: Rosie has one, and so do several other lab members. They discuss upcoming and ongoing experiments, work up data and think out loud about their research in general.
I met Maureen after we were both quoted in Mitch Waldrop’s SciAm article on Open Science, and she realized that we worked on the same campus. Maureen is a PI in the Biochem Dept at OHSU. She tells a great story about neglecting her family one weekend while she sat in bed reading scientific articles online — “this changes everything” was all she would say to their pleas for breakfast, etc. Well, Maureen meant what she said, and she’s walking the walk. You can find the Hoatlin lab on OpenWetWare, along with a wiki-based, bottom-up, ongoing experiment in improving grad student education that she pioneered, and you can find Maureen on a range of social networking sites including FriendFeed and LinkedIn. Her lab has its own Twitter account.
Since I think this sort of open, collaborative model is very much the way of the future, if science is to have a future at all, I’d like to see Rosie and Maureen get their props for having been such early adopters. It’s also worth mentioning that, in addition to still being a Boys’ Club in many ways, research is a very conservative environment in which new ideas are usually met with scorn and active resistance. So, having made it up the foodchain in the face of irrational opposition, they are now confronting the same tribe with another set of new and threatening ideas. Both are worthy additions to the Ada Lovelace Day pantheon.

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