Women in SciTech

Women have long been overlooked in the science and technology field despite their incredible contributions. OPEN will highlight women in sci-tech by providing a platform to discuss their research and work. This informative and entertaining series will feature impressive women who could inspire anyone considering a career in science or technology. 


Interview with Dr. Sara Seager

OPEN was honored to host Dr. Sara Seager, a world-renowned expert in the search for life beyond earth.  Co-hosted by Ashley Ruiz and Syra Mehdi of OPEN’s Women in Sci-Tech Series, Dr. Seager updated us on her and her colleagues’ potentially civilization-altering work since our last interview in 2016.  

In the conversation we discussed the recent unexpected but tantalizing findings of phosphine in the atmosphere of Venus (possibly signaling microbial life), and the search for life within our own solar system on Mars and in the subsurface seas of the moons of Jupiter and Saturn.  We also discussed new telescopes and technologies about to be commissioned and launched deep into space as well as future probes to Venus, and a fleet of small lightsails (microchip ships) to our nearest stars.  


We got an update on a starshade system Dr. Seager and her team have designed and recently proposed.  With such a starshade system they would be able to actually image other planets (Exoplanets) around distant stars that are less luminous than our sun.  Many of these new technologies will be searching for Earth-like rocky worlds as well as a new class of planets called sub-Neptune planets, and even Exo-moons.  


The James Webb space telescope slated for launch in October of 2021 will be measuring the gases in the atmospheres of some of these planets to determine if life somewhat akin to ours exists out there.  We also discussed SETI and the recent mysterious shiny visitor from another solar system Oumuamua (which is the Hawaiian word for “scout”).  


Please give a watch, as young apprentice astronomers will find lots of inspiration from Professor Seager’s words to hopefully come up with novel next generation technologies to further advance this ground-breaking research.

The singing brain: EPISODE 3 

In this episode of the Singing Brain, we welcome the accomplished Psyche Loui, a psychology and neuroscience researcher. She is an assistant professor at Northeastern University and the Director of the Music, Imaging, and Neural Dynamics Lab. She explains how she grew interested in neuroscience and music, different types of music therapy, and the effects of music on attention span among other topics. It was a delight having Psyche on the show to discuss her extensive knowledge on music and the brain.


In this episode of the Singing Brain, Dr. Amy Belfi explains her research regarding music preferences and how music can improve our commutes. Dr. Belfi is an assistant professor at the Missouri University of Science and Technology and received her PhD in Neuroscience from the University of Iowa. She has worked with notable companies such as Ford and Spotify in addition to doing her own research about how music influences our thoughts, feelings, and behavior. Dr. Belfi has studied a wide array of topics related to music and neuroscience, and it was a pleasure having her on the show. 


Our first episode of the Singing Brain features Dr. Edmarie Guzmán-Vélez who is an accomplished researcher in the Alzheimer's Disease field. She received her doctorate in clinical psychology with a specialization in neuropsychology from University of Iowa and currently holds the position of Instructor at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School. In this episode, Dr.Guzmán-Vélez explains her research involving music and Alzheimer’s Disease. We discuss why we enjoy music, how it affects our memory, and how helpful it can be for our brains.