Exceptional and diverse women tell us their science stories!

Exceptional and diverse women tell us their science stories!

About a decade ago, I wrestled with a dilemma no one seemed to relate to: I loved science with all my heart, but what if I didn’t want to be a scientist all my life? Was there room in the world for me to pursue another career while still being in the scientific field? What were my options? Who would I turn to? But more importantly, who could I become?

Today, I am the Media and Communications Officer of the European Geosciences Union (EGU). Every day, I get to be at the forefront of exciting science and translate complex narratives to diverse audiences around the world. I’m also proud to note that for the very first time, we have two women scientists as President (Helen Glaves) and Vice President (Irina Artemieva) of the EGU. Watch this space to hear from them about their journey and experiences as women in STEM!

With tomorrow being International Day for Women and Girls in Science, I think of all the young women and girls who are enamoured by science but often too intimidated to make a career of it. They have perhaps heard too many stories about the “limited options” for women in the scientific field, but I’m here to tell you differently.

This month, I spoke to scores of talented women in science to hear THEIR stories, the paths that they have taken, and what their science means to them. Read on to Meet the Women Behind the Science!


Athena Coustenis, Director of Research, CNRS, France: I’m an astrophysicist who got her dream of reaching out to the stars by studying solar system objects. I conduct observations with big telescopes and space missions that I help develop. My favorite mission so far has been Cassini Huygens and looking forward to JUICE and ARIEL in the future. I cannot encourage enough young people and especially women to follow their own dreams and become scientists!



Penny Wieser, Assistant Professor, UC Berkeley: I study lava, crystals and gas erupted at active volcanoes in Hawai’i and the Cascade arc to gain a greater understanding of how magma is generated and stored in the crust prior to eruption, and what elements are released into the atmosphere upon eruption. As well as being a proud woman in science, I also identify as a disabled scientist, and advocate and organize to help gain greater representation of minorities in STEM!




Munira Raji, Sustainable Geoscience and Natural Capital Research Fellow, University of Plymouth: I am a sustainable geoscientist working at the intersection of the sustainability of natural resources (renewable energy, minerals and natural capital), SDGs and Geoscience Diplomacy. I’m proud to be a woman in science!




Jenny Turton, Senior Science Advisor, Arctic Frontiers: My research has spanned both poles, but always focused on the interaction between the atmosphere and the ice surface. For the last few years, I have focused on the Arctic, and I currently work at the interface between science, policy, and communication for a non-profit based in the Arctic. Additionally, I am the Early Career Scientist (ECS) Union-Level Representative for EGU. I am proud to be a woman in science, science communication and science-policy.




Stephanie Zihms, Lecturer in Researcher Development and Academic Writing: My research interests are academic writing support and its role in community building. I want to ensure researchers are well supported to enjoy writing, write well and can share their amazing research with a broader audience. My research shows that writing peer groups have great added benefit for mental health and belonging to a community.



Avantika Gori, PhD Candidate, Department of Civil & Environmental Engineering, Princeton University: At present, I’m studying the impact of climate change on tropical cyclone hazards and coastal flooding. I’m driven by a desire to improve the resilience of coastal communities by developing high-resolution projections of flood risk that take into account rising seas and evolving extreme storms.




Chloe Hill, Science Policy Manager, EGU: I empower scientists with information and resources to actively engage in the European policy process. My passion is to ultimately help scientists create policy impact and reach their full potential. In my current role, I provide EGU members with information and resources that help them actively engage in European policy and coordinate activities that provide policymakers with scientific information from the EGU and EGU members.



Anne Chapuis, Communication Officer, Institute of Environmental Geosciences and the H2020-PROTECT project: I am a scientific communication expert with a PhD in glaciology and a strong expertise in disseminating climate research results. I am especially interested in understanding how well-designed communication can help stakeholders in taking impactful decisions. Bridging the gap between research and decision-makers has always been my main motivation.




Berit Schwichtenberg, Postdoctoral researcher in tectonics and structural geology, University of Bern: After my PhD I left academia to live up to my principles and work in open-access publishing. Still fascinated by small-scale deformation processes that eventually move entire mountain belts, I took a U-turn and returned to academia to continue my studies. After all, this decision was never either science or open access, as I enjoy advocating for open-access publishing too much and believe that the future of science is “open”. I’m proud to be a woman in science!



Katrin Krüger, Senior Conference Manager, Copernicus: I studied meteorology at Freie Universität Berlin and Bergen, Norway. After assisting at conferences, I started to work as a conference manager for Copernicus in 2012. I particularly enjoy being given the chance to promote sciences and to enable networking between scientists from all around the globe.




Solmaz Mohadjer, Scientific Coordinator, Max Planck Institute for Intelligent Systems: I’m a geoscientist investigating mountain hazards, founder of @pars_quake and member of the EGU Outreach Committee. My research focuses on the linkage between mountain hazards and mountain building processes, continental deformation and erosion with the ultimate goal of improving hazard communication with at-risk communities.


Jane Roussak, EGU Events Co-ordinator: The primary focus of my role is to organize the annual EGU General Assembly (our upcoming one is EGU23!), giving the geoscientific community a place to come together. Finding myself among inspiring scientists and research, it’s a gratifying challenge to plan a conference of this scale in a new hybrid format. An exciting time to be a woman in science, as we get to shape our experience on the journey to inclusivity.





Thank you to everyone who shared their science story with us. This blog features just a few of the exceptional women we spoke to, so don’t forget to follow us on social media (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Instagram, Reddit and Mastodon) to hear from all our Women Behind the Science! And if you have your own story to share, join our EGU campaign on social media by telling us about your science and tagging us with #MyScienceStory and #WomenInScience

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Gillian D’Souza was Media and Communications Officer of the European Geosciences Union between 2022 and 2024. She oversaw the Union's blog writing, press interactions and external communication. She has been a science writer on various subjects including health and the environment for close to a decade, and has an M.Sc. in Food Microbiology and Biochemistry from Mumbai, India.

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