Sigma Xi leaders share thoughts on women in STEM

March is Women's History Month, a time to celebrate the contributions women have made to society. Sigma Xi will participate by celebrating women's contributions to science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM). We asked women in STEM, most of whom are Sigma Xi members, to share their career experiences and their advice for girls and women interested in STEM. -

PSU researcher Jennifer Miksas-Olds was among those featured this year:

Current position

Co-director for the Center for Marine Science & Technology at The Pennsylvania State University. I'm also a senior research associate in the Applied Research Laboratory and an associate professor in the Graduate Program in Acoustics at Penn State.

Description of your job

I’m primarily research faculty that teaches a specialty graduate level course every one to two years. I work in the field of bioacoustics which means I use acoustic technology to study life in the ocean.  My field is a combination of knowledge from biology, ecology, oceanography, engineering, and physics.  Being so interdisciplinary is fun because it allows me to easily communicate with researchers from many different topic areas. I spend four to six weeks at sea each year, which is an exciting break from data analysis in the office. I enjoy working with students and involve both graduate and undergraduate students in my lab. I love my job because I find myself doing different things each day, and I’m constantly learning from my colleagues and students.  As co-director of the Center for Marine Science & Technology, I’m tasked with raising the visibility of ocean science within the land-locked community of Penn State and the national science community.

What do you see as your biggest contribution to your field?

My biggest contribution to the field was developing SeaBASS: A Marine BioAcoustic Summer School.  Marine bioacoustics is a small but highly interdisciplinary field, and no one university has the in-house expertise to provide a full degree program on this topic. SeaBASS was created as a week-long course to train the next generation of marine bioacousticians.  It brings graduate students together with experts in the field for an intensive week of lectures, hand-on activities and demonstrations, networking, career discussions, and socializing.  Hearing about SeaBASS students going on to be successful in industry, government, and military science careers is more rewarding than any combination of research publications, book chapters, or successful proposals.

I work in STEM because...

Science challenges me. I get bored easily, and the life-long learning and challenges that research provides continually excites me. For every one question I seek to answer, many more are generated in the research process.


Read all of the quotes here: