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Science HAPPENINGS January 2019

500 Women Scientists Southeast Utah Pod
by Kristina Young



Southeast Utah 500 Women Scientists
Mission and Values:


Our Mission:
  • To share the importance of science.
  • To support one another as a community of women scientists in Southeast Utah
  • To be in service in the name of science to the communities of Southeast Utah.

Our Values:
  • Being a supportive group for women scientists in Southeast Utah
  • Advocate for inclusivity in our group and in science at large
  • Increase scientific literacy for locals and tourists
  • Mentor and support students of science (especially girls)

500womenscientists.org


Moab is home to an amazing number of women working in the sciences. From ecologists to archaeologists, science teachers to professors, Moab encompasses women working in a wide array of scientific disciplines. Each of these women have faced unique challenges while building their science-based career. According to data compiled by the United Nations, women represent only 30% of researchers worldwide and are more likely to leave science careers than their male counterparts, likely due to pressures specific to women. When Hannah Russell, an archaeologist here in town, asked me to help start a Southeast Utah chapter of 500 Women Scientists, an international organization of women scientists that focuses on empowering women pursing science careers and increasing science access to local communities, I quickly agreed. What formed was a group of over 50 women working in science disciplines in Southeast Utah. Each woman brings a unique perspective, strength, and expertise to the group, which we draw upon to support one another and use to engage the community with the amazing science happening in our region.

Over the next year, you will be hearing from a subset of these women in this column. You will learn about the incredible science each woman is involved in and hear how it affects our community and the landscapes surrounding us. To start, I’ll share some of the work I do studying desert soils. I study our famous biological soil crusts, those cryptobiotic soil communities that grow on the soil surface in between plants. These diverse communities comprised of cyanobacteria, lichen, and moss stabilize our desert soil, ensuring that the soil doesn’t blow away during our strong spring winds, or wash away during our fall monsoons. Anyone who has been out in the desert knows that biological soil crusts are fragile thanks to our “don’t bust the crust” campaign. My research examines how to take crust that has already been “busted” and try to restore it. I and my fellow restoration ecologists are working on ways to quickly grow biocrust in greenhouses, hoop houses, and fields, to take that grown biocrust back into disturbed areas around Moab and the greater Southwest. While we still need to do more research to figure out how to restore biocrust successfully, un-busting biological soil crust will do a lot to help reduce dust and restore the ecosystems we live in.

Over the next year, check back here to learn more about the science that women in Southeast Utah are involved in. You can learn more about our organization, 500 Women Scientists or join us at 500womenscientists.org/. And be sure to mention that you read about it in Moab Happenings.

Kristina Young is the co-lead of the Southeast Utah 500 Women Scientists Pod, a PhD student studying dryland soil ecology, and the host of Science Moab on KZMU
 
 
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