Ada Lovelace Day Roundup

Here at we admire many women within the Technology and Science fields. We’ve gathered some short tributes to the women who inspire us:

Melissa: On a warm spring night in 2002 Bali was rocked by the bombing of a few popular nightclubs. One result of this was a lot of survivors with really bad burns — as much as 90-something percent of their bodies. Ouch!

It was at this point that I, and the rest of the world, first heard of Dr Fiona Wood; a British plastic surgeon working in Perth, Australia. Dr Wood had pioneered the development of “Spray-on skin”, a grafting technique that cultures cells in a suspension formula. This technique substantially reduced the delay to the first graft and hence drastically reduced the risk of infection and scarring. While the technique is patented, the licensing royalties are fed in to a fund that supports further research in to burns treatments.

Mary: I found out about Fan Chung in Paul Hoffman’s The Man Who Loved Only Numbers: The Story of Paul ErdÅ’s and the Search for Mathematical Truth; Chung and her husband Ron Graham were two of ErdÅ’s’s closest collaborators. Hoffman tells a great story about how when Chung had finished, and come first in, her PhD qualifying exams at the University of Pennsylvania, her eventual PhD advisor gave her a textbook on Ramsey theory to browse and she came back and explained that she’d improved one of the proofs. That was a core part of her PhD dissertation, completed in a week. Those kinds of stories are told about the best mathematicians.

Chung’s website has a copy of a chapter about her in Claudia Henrion’s Women in mathematics: the addition of difference. Among other things it talks about her move to the United States from Taiwan for her graduate work, and her thoughts on having a child while at graduate school.

Mackenzie: I can’t think of any big world-famous type names that aren’t obvious things like Marie Curie or Grace Hopper. Instead, my mind keeps drifting to the book Three Cups of Tea and how big of a difference Jahan, a young woman from Korphe in rural Northern Pakistan, will make. She was one of the first girls in the village to receive any education at all. Then, she went off to study at a big school in Skardu to become their town’s first medically-trained health worker. She changed her mind. She decided to become a full doctor and start the first hospital in that area. I don’t know if she’s succeeded yet, but I’m sure she must be an inspiration to girls from neighboring villages, and she’s a shining star in a part of the world where a woman’s rights and opportunities are often so limited. (PS: to support building more schools for girls in poor rural villages in Pakistan and Afghanistan, donate to the Central Asia Institute)

Elsewhere: some of us have also made Ada Lovelace Day posts on other blogs:

2 thoughts on “Ada Lovelace Day Roundup

  1. Yatima

    YES TO FAN CHUNG I love her so.

    On a related note I should thank Natalia Rojkovskaia of Kansas State University, who started the Elementary program at Berkeley Math Circle. My 7yo daughter was utterly charmed by her and is now thoroughly engaged in mathematics.

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