The remarkable work of women scientists and researchers at IBM Research

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During the month of March, IBM Research put the spotlight on a number of women scientists and engineers, and asked them about their professional and personal motivations, journeys and experiences as women — and particularly, as women in STEM. They represent the breadth of career experiences at IBM Research, across disciplines, geographies, ethnicities, tenures, and backgrounds, who share a passion for science and technology, as well as a commitment to help all women rise to meet their aspirations.

Here are some of their inspiring stories.

Kathryn Guarini, Ph.D – Chief Information Officer, IBM

Olivia Lanes, Ph.D. – Quantum Researcher and Education Developer (New York)

"When women feel they are not welcome in STEM, it harms the individual and also hurts the field. It deters future contributors who don’t see themselves being accepted and  negatively impacts the diversity of thought and experience needed to solve complex problems."

Yoonyoung Park, Sc.D – Research Staff Member (Cambridge)

"If I could give advice to myself at the beginning of my career, I would encourage myself to broaden my perspective by learning from people with diverse backgrounds and expertise - it requires consistent and conscious effort."

Neereja Sundaresan, Ph.D. – Research Scientist (New York)

"My interests in math & science were nurtured at a young age. Engineering neatly bridged them and gave me the opportunity to be hands-on in the lab. In experimental quantum research, we study fundamental physics while also engineering the systems to work as well as possible."

Maja Vukovic, Ph.D. – Distinguished Research Staff Member (New York)

"I was exposed to technology as a kid since my dad is a mechanical and electrical engineer. Stemming from my first ZX Spectrum and Commodore64, my curiosity evolved into a passion for building intelligent systems and then ultimately building tools that may make peoples’ lives better. I'm grateful that my journey with IBM Research has spanned innovations in a number of fascinating fields - from enterprise crowdsourcing to application modernization."

Ana Paula Appel, Ph.D. – Researcher and Data Scientist (São Paulo)

"Women's History Month serves as an opportunity to rediscover women who have made important contributions throughout history. By bringing awareness to women's achievements, we can help inspire the next generation."

Jianying Hu, Ph.D – IBM Fellow & Global Science Leader, AI for Healthcare (New York)

"Women’s History Month is a great opportunity to celebrate and amplify the accomplishments of women's contributions to humanity. Growing up, the only prominent woman scientist I was aware of was Madame Curie. Her life story and achievements, as well as the recognition she received, had a profound impact on me as proof that it was not always futile for a woman to aim high."

Maria Gabrani, Ph.D. – Manager, Cognitive Healthcare and Lifesciences (Zurich)

"The STEM field allows us to be creative in very rewarding ways. Being able to design the tools that can change the world - from medicine, education or manufacturing - is an incredible opportunity. Women should not only seize these opportunities, but also enjoy the journey along the way."

Kayla Lee, Ph.D. – Growth Product Manager, IBM Quantum (New York)

- Approved 3/9 Why do you think it's vital that we increase the representation of women in STEM fields? "It's extremely important that everyone has someone that looks like them or shares similar lived experiences. This familiarity will make the workplace a better environment because a space is created where people can be comfortable as their authentic self."

Cindy Goldberg, Ph.D. – Program Director,  AI Hardware Center & Hybrid Cloud Research (New York)

"There has been a positive trend to increase transparency and access to tools for researchers to chart their career paths. However, this does not eradicate a manager's unique and formidable responsibility to develop talent. My greatest managers saw potential in me that I didn't see in myself and encouraged my growth - propelling me forward like a strong tailwind."

Anupama Ray, Ph.D. – Advisory Research Scientist (Bangalore)

"My father is an engineer and initially spotted my curiosity and creativity. He introduced me to scientific explorations very early on. I credit him for helping me live my dream of being a #scientist and appreciate him for keeping me encouraged along my journey." 

Adele Pacquette, Ph.D. – Research Staff Member (New York)

"When I was in high school in Dominica, I was inspired to pursue studies in chemistry. I was fascinated with how fundamental chemistry is to understanding integral parts of our daily lives. I was able to build on my foundational math and problem-solving skills and pursue a career in research."

Hanhee Paik, Ph.D. – Research Staff Member (New York)

"It's vital that we increase the representation of women in STEM fields because heavy gender-imbalance can intimidate young students and lead to a lack of mentors later in their careers. In turn, this leads to a vicious cycle of an underrepresentation of women."

Jacquelyn Martino, Ph.D. – Distinguished Engineer (New York)

"I don’t think I made a conscious decision to enter a STEM field. It was more an evolution of my interests. My fascination with technology began when I shifted from a liberal arts focus in my early education to solving puzzles during computer programming classes. I gravitated to a career where I could use technology to solve real problems for real people."

Michal Ozery-Flato, Ph.D. – Research Staff Member, AI for Healthcare (Tel-Aviv)

"As a child, I really enjoyed math and was good at it. Solving math problems is like solving riddles so I never grew tired of it. My mother has a Ph.D. in physical chemistry and greatly influenced me, my two sisters and brother's interest in STEM subjects."

Sara E. Berger, Ph.D. – Research Staff Member (New York)

"I never made a conscious decision to enter STEM; my interests in high school naturally gravitated toward biology and psychology. Personal life experiences - my grandfather being diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease, my father developing chronic pain after chemotherapy, and my mother coming out as a lesbian - sparked my curiosity in the brain and elements of the mind, embodiment, and human identity."

Payel Das, Ph.D. – Principal Research Staff Member and Manager, IBM Research AI (New York)

"Women's History Month is an opportunity to acknowledge the successes and plights of all those great and powerful women, many of whom I never met in person, but read about in books. These are also women whom I grew up with and work with at the workplace. I thank all of them from bottom of my heart, as they remind me every day not to persevere, step up, and make decisions for myself."

Aisha Walcott, Ph.D. – Research Scientist and Manager (Nairobi)

"During Women's History Month, I first beam with pride at the accomplishments of women. I also think of the mothers who have lost their life during childbirth or the life of the newborn, and reflect on the impact that such a loss has on a family, a community, and a nation. This month serves as an important reminder to continue to be empathetic and find inspiration in the struggles and painful obstacles that women have had to overcome, while also finding strength in our achievements."

Kimberly Greene Starks – Infrastructure Lead, and IBM Master Inventor, IBM Global University Programs (Nashville)

"On the heels of Black History Month, Women's History Month is an opportunity to amplify women's contributions to the U.S. and its status in the global community, which are often excluded from formal education. It's a chance for girls to see who and what they want to be when they often do not see themselves in their school books."

Ananya Poddar, MS – Research Staff Engineer and Data Scientist (New York)

"Women's History Month reminds me that we stand here today on a more-level playing field with countless opportunities due to the courage and sacrifices by women before us. Today and every day, we should celebrate by uplifting each other, contributing to causes that address women's issues, and helping the next generation break the glass ceiling by spearheading initiatives such as Girls Who Code and Black Girls Code."

Bianca Zadrozny, Ph.D. – Senior Manager, Spatiotemporal Modeling (Brazil)

"If I could offer my younger self advice, I would share that you don't have to do everything alone. It is possible to have a career as a scientist, be a mother of three kids, and still have time for yourself - as long as you surround yourself with a strong support network at work and at home, and learn to delegate." Dr. Bianca Zadrozny

Stacy Hobson, Ph.D. – Director, Responsible and Inclusive Technologies Research (New York)

"As a student, I yearned to see people who looked like me in tech.  I wanted assurance that I could to reach the career heights that they achieved and that my gender, race and background were not barriers to advancement in tech. It's going to take concentrated efforts for us to close the gap of representation of women in STEM fields, and help inspire and encourage young women to become the STEM leaders of the future."


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