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Womens History Month - Wendy Bohon
by Jaha Knight
Wendy is a geologist who studies earthquakes and works to improve the communication of science. In particular, she is interested in improving the communication of hazard and risk before during and after rapid onset geologic hazards. She also serves as the Strategic Communication Specialist for the Earth Science Division at NASA Goddard.
When asked what inspired her to choose her career path she stated “I used to be a professional actress in Los Angeles until one night I was shaken awake by a large earthquake- the M7.1 Hector Mine event. It was frightening but also enthralling - I grew up on the east coast so earthquakes had not been a part of my everyday life. After the earthquake I started volunteering at the United States Geological Survey (USGS) Earthquake Hazards Program and eventually they hired me. After working at the USGS for 6 years I wanted to learn even more about earthquakes, so I went back to school and got an MSc degree and PhD in Geology focusing on earthquakes. Once I was finished with graduate school, I went to work for the Incorporated Research Institutions for Seismology as a Science Communication Specialist. This really allowed me to use my background in theatre and communication to instruct people about earthquakes. I was at IRIS for seven years before I was hired away by SSAI to work for NASA.”
Not that is not an everyday story!
STEM continues to be a field where woman make up less than half of the work force but that does not stop Bohon from her love of the field.
“When I worked at the USGS most of the scientists were women, so I was shocked when I went to graduate, and it was mostly men. I only had one female professor in my seven years of graduate school! I have faced a lot of harassment and bias as a woman in STEM, but I have also found an amazing community of people who help and support each other. My colleagues and friends at 500 Women Scientists and If/Then have made a tremendous difference in both my personal and professional life. Together we are working to make STEM a safer and more inclusive community,” Bohon said.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) IF/Then Ambassadors Program is a key element of the IF/Then Initiative designed to further women in STEM by empowering current innovators and inspiring the next generation of pioneers. She has does many cool projects with the organization with one of her favorites being the Women in Geospace video project.
“My advice to young women interested in STEM is YOU BELONG. Don't let anyone tell you that you do not. Your unique ideas and perspective matter, and science needs you to help tackle the world's biggest global problems. Find people that support you and go for it,” Bohon stated when asked what her advice was to young woman interested in STEM.
In addition to her work with If/Then, Bohon continues to be active in her STEM passions as she has served on the Executive Leadership Board of 500 Women Scientists, and is the author of the blog Twinning at Motherhood. She is also the founder of the social media managing and consulting company SpaceFace social media!
Wendy currently lives in Maryland with her husband, daughter, twin boys, and a menagerie of animals, and we are so lucky to not just have her on our team but also happy to honor all the work she has contributed to the field of STEM!
We thank you Wendy, and check our page tomorrow for our next Women's History Month highlight!