Scientific discovery doesn’t happen in a vacuum. Researchers need to interact, exchange ideas, challenge one another. Intellectual conversations, many have found, are never more lively than at a scientific conference.
“There’s no substitute for being in the same room with other scientists,” says Donna Blackmond, PhD, professor and chair of the Department of Chemistry at Scripps Research. “You talk with them about your work and about theirs; you watch and listen to others present their work. You just learn so much. Attending scientific conferences is one of the most inspiring things you can do as a young scientist.”
To assist her colleagues in traveling to these enriching conferences, Blackmond recently set aside $25,000 from an award she had received for her own research and seeded the “Encouraging Women in Science Fund” at Scripps Research. This fund will help cover the travel expenses for any woman scientist at the institute who wants to attend a scientific conference, enabling them to expand their expertise and further their academic careers.
Meredith Johnston, vice president of Philanthropy at Scripps Research, already has plans for building on Blackmond’s foresight and generosity. “This is a very smart, very thoughtful fund from someone who knows how important these travel opportunities are, especially for women,” she says. “The goal of my office now is to build the fund to $100,000 through a matching program. That will endow it for perpetuity.”
Blackmond looks forward to watching her colleagues travel off to scientific conferences then hearing about the experience upon their return. “Supporting women in science has long been a mission of mine,” she says. “I’m thrilled to see this fund take shape.”