Each year, Nature Magazine profiles 10 people who made a significant impact in the field of science.
This year, four women made it onto the list, including Macquarie University bioethicist Dr Wendy Rogers. Also on the list was Time’s Person of the Year, Greta Thunberg, American-Canadian astrophysicist Dr Victoria Kaspi and Argentinian ecologist Dr Sandra Díaz.
Below we share a little more on each of the four women who made the list.
Dr Wendy Rogers, bioethicist, Macquarie University, Sydney
Dr Rogers is a bioethicist who has been researching the particularly challenging subject of forced organ donation in China, which the Chinese government once denied. Dr Rogers’ work involves examining research publications by Chinese transplant doctors with a team at Macquarie, with conclusions that prove donors have in fact, not given consent. Rogers draws on both her medical and philosophical training to expose sketchy data from China’s organ donation programme. She was recently named Australia’s Research Field Leader for bioethics by The Australian.
Greta Thunberg, Activist, Sweden
Nature describes Swedish teenager Greta Thunberg as a climate action catalyst who is channeling a generation’s rage to shift policy and save the world for global climate disaster. Journalist Quirin Schiermeier notes that, “Scientists have spent decades warning about climate change, but they couldn’t galvanize global attention the way that Thunberg did this year. The Swedish 16-year-old has outshone them — and many are cheering her along.” Thunberg’s spoken at the UN and been named 2019’s Time’s Person of the Year.
Dr Victoria Kaspi, astrophysicist, McGill University, Montreal
To be a woman in the field of astrophysics is to have moved within the halls of male power. The field is largely and famously dominated by men; in fact, Nature reported last year that astronomy was losing women at three times the rate of men. That’s just one of the reasons why the work that Dr Kaspi has accomplished is earth-shatteringly impressive. For the past 25 years, the Canadian-American has used many of the world’s top telescopes to make fundamental astronomy. Two years ago, she was part of a team in Canada that built the world’s best detecter of fast radio bursts (FRBs) which are essentially mysterious flashes of radio energy that frequently pop off across the sky. The Canadian Hydrogen Intensity Mapping Experiment (CHIME for short) has since spotted hundreds of bursts, many more than any other telescopes around the world. In 2016, she won Canada’s highest science prize, the Gerhard Herzberg Canada Gold Medal for Science and Engineering.
Dr Sandra Díaz, ecologist, National University of Córdoba, Argentina
What does a researcher who studies biodiversity do, exactly? Change the world! This year, Argentinian ecologist Diaz undertook the most exhaustive study ever of the world’s biodiversity, and finished with a 1,500 page document; expressing that that nations will fail to meet most global targets in biodiversity and sustainable development unless they make massive changes. The research also concluded that that one million species are heading for extinction because of human activities. Diaz’s history in conservation science has lead her to becoming an influential figure in policy-making not just in her home-country, but also, across the world. Last week, Diaz told Dissent Magazine; “Biodiversity and nature’s contributions to people are our common heritage and humanity’s most important life-supporting ‘safety net,’ but our safety net is stretched almost to breaking point.” The delicate ecological balance that has formed the basis for human civilization for the last 10,000 years is all but history.