Most Shared

See science come alive with a little help from these amazing illustrations.

Rachel Ignotofsky's book sits at the intersection of art, science, and history.

See science come alive with a little help from these amazing illustrations.

Name five women scientists you learned about in school. Go ahead, I'll wait.

GIF via "Sherlock."


I got to three very quickly but had to think for a moment to get to five. It's not because these researchers, explorers, and innovators don't exist; I simply didn't learn about their work and contributions to history in school. It just wasn't a large part of the curriculum. And, sadly, my experience isn't unique.

You can't be what you can't see, which may be why women remain underrepresented in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) roles. Just 25% of computer and mathematical science professionals and a mere 13% of engineers today are women.

But one woman is doing her part to help change that. And she's doing it with comics.

Seriously, comics.

Rachel Ignotofsky is a Kansas City-based artist and designer whose first book is an illustrated look at 50 game-changing women across centuries of scientific discovery and inquiry.

Unless otherwise noted, all images reprinted with permission from "Women in Science," copyright 2016 by Rachel Ignotofsky, published by Ten Speed Press, an imprint of Random House LLC.

But why comics? It's the medium that changed her life.

Ignotofsky had a difficult time learning to read and grew frustrated until she found her secret weapon.

"The only thing that ... got me through it was educational comic books and cartoons," Ignotofsky said. "It gave me this push to learn information that was for the 'smart kids.'"

Ignotofsky grew up loving comics, design, and science. (If a career as an artist didn't work out, medical school was young Rachel's backup plan.) So she channeled her passions into "Women in Science: 50 Fearless Pioneers Who Changed the World." The book is a beautifully curated collection of personal narratives from female scientists from a wide variety of backgrounds and disciplines, with a dash of whimsy thrown in.

Ignotofsky hopes it will open doors to kids and adults interested in learning more about the women who shaped not only science, but history. And after her childhood struggle with reading, she knows firsthand how well comics can deliver information.

"I feel like there's a real struggle with scientific literacy, especially in this country," Ignotofsky said. "You have to win people over. And you can convince anyone to do anything with illustration."

Check out a few of the courageous women in science profiled in Ignotofsky's book.

1. Edith Clarke, who worked as a human calculator and became General Electric's first female electrical engineer.

She's also a Badger. On, Wisconsin!

2. Marie Curie, the two-time Nobel Prize winning physicist and chemist who discovered polonium and radium.

3. Paleontologist and fossil collector, Mary Anning, who at age 12 discovered an intact dinosaur skeleton. Though respected in the field, Anning was never allowed to publish her work because she was a woman.

4. Patricia Bath, a physician, professor, and inventor who brought eye care to people in need and developed the laser probe used to treat cataracts.

5. Rosalind Franklin was a pioneering chemist and x-ray crystallographer who discovered the double helix shape of DNA.

6. Sylvia Earle, a celebrated marine biologist and aquanaut, who explored the recesses of our oceans to study the plants and animals found in the depths.

7. Hypatia, one of the earliest recorded female mathematicians and teachers who was also an expert philosopher.

But even with the amazing women she highlights in her book, Ignotofsky still remembers the women she had to leave out.

Women like pioneering Indian botanist Janaki Ammal, paleoanthropologist Mary Leakey, accomplished physicist and astronaut Sally Ride, and Irene Joliet-Curie, daughter of Marie and Pierre Curie and a talented chemist in her own right. But for this collection, Ignotofsky had to make some tough calls and let variety be her guide.

"I could've had 50 women in chemistry if I wanted to, but I really wanted to have a diverse group."

Physicist Sally Ride became the first American woman in space in 1983. Photo via NASA.

But, luckily, for Ignotofsky — and all of us who love women in science — there are plenty of women in science for another book or two ... or 20.

Women are earning just over half of the undergraduate degrees in STEM fields, and we're re-writing history and making groundbreaking discoveries every day. The future belongs to these rising stars, and they have these courageous pioneers to thank.

Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Empathy. Compassion. Heart-to-heart human connection. These qualities of leadership may not be flashy or loud, but they speak volumes when we see them in action.

A clip of Joe Biden is going viral because it reminds us what that kind of leadership looks like. The video shows a key moment at a memorial service for Chris Hixon, the athletic director at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida in 2018. Hixon had attempted to disarm the gunman who went on a shooting spree at the school, killing 17 people—including Hixon—and injuring 17 more.

Biden asked who Hixon's parents were as the clip begins, and is directed to his right. Hixon's wife introduces herself, and Biden says, "God love you." As he starts to walk away, a voice off-camera says something and Biden immediately turns around. The voice came from Hixon's son, Corey, and the moments that followed are what have people feeling all their feelings.

Keep Reading Show less
Photo by Tim Mossholder on Unsplash
True

Glenda moved to Houston from Ohio just before the pandemic hit. She didn't know that COVID-19-related delays would make it difficult to get her Texas driver's license and apply for unemployment benefits. She quickly found herself in an impossible situation — stranded in a strange place without money for food, gas, or a job to provide what she needed.

Alone, hungry, and scared, Glenda dialed 2-1-1 for help. The person on the other end of the line directed her to the Houston-based nonprofit Bread of Life, founded by St. John's United Methodist pastors Rudy and Juanita Rasmus.

For nearly 30 years, Bread of Life has been at the forefront of HIV/AIDS prevention, eliminating food insecurity, providing permanent housing to formerly homeless individuals and disaster relief.

Glenda sat in her car for 20 minutes outside of the building, trying to muster up the courage to get out and ask for help. She'd never been in this situation before, and she was terrified.

When she finally got out, she encountered Eva Thibaudeau, who happened to be walking down the street at the exact same time. Thibaudeau is the CEO of Temenos CDC, a nonprofit multi-unit housing development also founded by the Rasmuses, with a mission to serve Midtown Houston's homeless population.

Keep Reading Show less

Pete Buttigieg is having a moment. The former mayor of South Bend, Indiana keeps trending on social media for his incredibly eloquent explanations of issues—so much so that L.A. Times columnist Mary McNamara has dubbed him "Slayer Pete," who excels in "the five-minute, remote-feed evisceration." From his old-but-newly-viral explanation of late-term abortion to his calm calling out of Mike Pence's hypocrisy, Buttigieg is making a name for himself as Biden's "secret weapon" and "rhetorical assassin."

And now he's done it again, this time taking on the 'originalist' view of the Constitution.

Constitutional originalists contend that the original meaning of the words the drafters of the Constitution used and their intention at the time they wrote it are what should guide interpretation of the law. On the flip side are people who see the Constitution as a living document, meant to adapt to the times. These are certainly not the only two interpretive options and there is much debate to be had as to the merits of various approaches, but since SCOTUS nominee Amy Coney Barrett is an originalist, that view is currently part of the public discourse.

Buttigieg explained the problem with originalism in a segment on MSNBC, speaking from what McNamara jokingly called his "irritatingly immaculate kitchen." And in his usual fashion, he totally nails it. After explaining that he sees "a pathway to judicial activism cloaked in judicial humility" in Coney Barrett's descriptions of herself, he followed up with:

Keep Reading Show less

The English language is constantly evolving, and the faster the world changes, the faster our vocabulary changes. Some of us grew up in an age when a "wireless router" would have been assumed to be a power tool, not a way to get your laptop (which wasn't a thing when I was a kid) connected to the internet (which also wasn't a thing when I was a kid, at least not in people's homes).

It's interesting to step back and look at how much has changed just in our own lifetimes, which is why Merriam-Webster's Time Traveler tool is so fun to play with. All you do is choose a year, and it tells you what words first appeared in print that year.

For my birth year, the words "adult-onset diabetes," "playdate," and "ATM" showed up in print for the first time, and yes, that makes me feel ridiculously old.

It's also fun to plug in the years of different people's births to see how their generational differences might impact their perspectives. For example, let's take the birth years of the oldest and youngest members of Congress:

Keep Reading Show less