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Updated: September 10, 2019

UMaine prof chosen as ambassador for next-gen STEM initiative

Courtesy / University of Maine University of Maine research assistant professor Kimberley Miner was selected as an ambassador of a national initiative to promote opportunities for women innovators in science, technology, engineering and math fields.

A University of Maine research assistant professor has been selected as a nationwide ambassador of an initiative promoting opportunities for women innovators in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

Kimberly Miner was named by the American Association for the Advancement of Science as one of 125 ambassadors in IF/THEN, a national initiative of Lyda Hill Philanthropies. Miner is in UMaine’s Climate Change Institute and is a physical scientist at its Geospatial Research Laboratory, according to a news release.

“We firmly believe that if we support a woman in STEM, then she can change the world,” Lyda Hill, founder of Lyda Hill Philanthropies, said in the release. “The goal of IF/THEN is to shift the way our country, and the world, think about women in STEM and this requires changing the narratives about women STEM professionals and improving their visibility.”

To achieve the goal, IF/THEN ambassadors are expected to connect with students in person and through various media platforms, including YouTube channels and network television shows. 

Individuals chosen for the work are contemporary role models who represent STEM-related professions in the United States, from entertainment, fashion, sports, business and academia. 

Sarah Parcak, originally from Bangor, was also selected as an ambassador.

Parcak is an archeologist, Egyptologist, a 2013 TED Senior Fellow and the founding director of the Laboratory for Global Observations at the University of Alabama at Birmingham.

Toxic melt

Miner's work in glaciology aims to understand health risks posed by melting ice, which may contain toxic substances. The work has global significance, Paul Mayewski, director of the Climate Change Institute, said in the release.

“Throughout her tenure at the University of Maine, Miner has been a leader in her field and helped the Climate Change Institute to achieve our mission to understand the impact of human activity on the physical and chemical climate," he said.

Miner earned her doctorate in earth and climate sciences at UMaine. As an Integrative Graduate Education and Research trainee at the Climate Change Institute, she explored six continents and developed a framework to assess the threat of pesticides that for years have been trapped in glacial ice and now are entering watersheds as the glaciers melt. 

She found pesticide pollutants, including the insecticide DDT, in the remote Alaskan Jarvis Glacier and its meltwater. DDT likely was transported there in the atmosphere from Asia, where it’s still used to try to prevent malaria, she said.

Miner also found that children in Alaska whose diet includes a lot of fish from rivers fed by the Eastern Alaska Mountain Range may have a long-term elevated risk for cancer because of insecticides in the meltwater.

When Miner was a student at UMaine, she was a Switzer Environmental Fellow.

In October, Miner and other ambassadors will participate in the IF/THEN Summit in Dallas for specialized media and communications training. 

IF/THEN will showcase them by sharing stories of their STEM journeys and the ways in which they use STEM to solve problems and create new possibilities for the future, according to the website.

The IF/THEN Collection, a digital asset library of photos and custom content, will be created as a tool to increase the number of accurate and powerful images of real women and girls in STEM.  The collection can be accessed by media, educators and nonprofit organizations as they develop and share content and curriculum.


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