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Behind the Names

Behind the Names

In a recently released journal article published in Nature Communications, the Baker Lab discovered five new bacterial phyla from the deep sea. The team decided to name these phyla after female scientists that have made substantial contributions to deep sea research. The scientists include Dr. Raquel Negrete Aranda (Schmidt Ocean Institute), Dr. Ruth Blake (Yale University), Dr. Victoria Orphan (Caltech), and Dr. Samantha Joye (University of Georgia).

Historically, the findings of brilliant women scientists have been ignored and erased (case in point, Katherine Johnson and Rosalind Franklin). This has led to a lack of representation and role models for female students that can inhibit their ability to envision a future in science. “This is especially true for minority students, who face even greater disparities and poor representation in STEM at every degree level,” says Dr. Valerie De Anda, a Research Associate and coauthor on the recent study.

De Anda believes that “making science more diverse starts by awakening and empowering children from underrepresented minorities that just need to see themselves reflected in real-life scientists”, therefore our research team wanted to shed light on female contributions to deep sea research and “we thought naming the novel phyla after them would be a good way to highlight their contributions to the field of science”. Maggie Langwig, master of science and coauthor on the study agrees, saying, “Naming the phyla after these scientists seemed like the easiest thing we could do to acknowledge their contributions. I liked the idea of their names being commemorated in the phyla, because that might compel someone to look them up in the future if they’re curious about where it comes from. Hopefully this will help force history to recognize and remember the contributions of women and minorities in STEM, so they can’t be overlooked as they once were.” The research team hopes that others will be inspired by the work, and encouraged to reflect upon and highlight the contributions of underrepresented people in STEM.

Learn more about the research of the five scientists commemorated by the new phyla:

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