Title: Assistant Professor of Chemistry
Expertise: Supramolecular organic chemistry and inspiring young girls to pursue science
Chemistry Professor Mindy Levine grew up thinking she would become a physician like her father until she realized she didn’t want to diagnose and treat patients. Her big idea back then? She wanted to create the treatment. Today, it’s to inspire other young girls to become scientists too.
“I love science. If I think of an idea today, I can be researching it tomorrow. I’m curious naturally and, to me, that’s what science is all about. It’s an established framework to explore curiosity.”
And Professor Levine has created a weeklong chemistry camp at URI where 40 middle school girls will explore their scientific curiosity this April. Funded for two years with a $15,000 award from the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Special Grant Program in the Chemical Sciences, the free camp is packed with hands-on experiments, a field trip to the Boston Museum of Science, and female scientists in a variety of interesting careers as guest speakers.
“I want these girls to come out of this camp thinking that science is cool and that women can become scientists,” she said.
Female role models are critical when statistics show 75 percent of elementary school girls and 82 percent of boys report they like science. But by the time they reach high school, only 29 percent of girls report they’d enjoy being scientists compare to 52 percent of boys. In 2009, only 24 percent of scientists and engineers were women, according to the Census Bureau’s 2009 American Community Survey.*
“When I wrote the proposal for the camp, Rhode Island had the highest unemployment rate in the country. Camps like this and other initiatives are crucial to our state and our students. I want these girls to see that an advanced degree in science can lead to a number of fascinating career paths.”