Woman talking to group of highschool girls

Celebrating women in science

The United Nations General Assembly has declared February 11 the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Keep reading to explore the many ways Perimeter Institute supports this initiative in February and throughout the year.

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Inspiring Future Women in Science — Live Q&A

In celebration of the UN International Day of Women and Girls in Science, we brought together an astronomer, a chemical engineer, a medical student, and a construction and facility management professional to answer high school students’ questions about the rewards, challenges, and possibilities of a career in these fields.

Inspiring Future Women in Science – Live Q&A took place on Thursday, February 10, 2022. You can watch the recording as well as other events in the series on our YouTube channel.

Live Q&A guests:

Woman wearing a black coat standing outside in front of a white telescope

Laurie Rousseau-Nepton
Resident Astronomer, Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope

Education: PhD Physics and Astronomy, University Laval, MSc Physics and Astronomy, University Laval, BSc Physics, Université Laval 

Laurie Rousseau-Nepton is a resident astronomer at the Canada-France-Hawaii Observatory and was a FRQNT postdoctoral fellow at the University of Hawaii between 2017 and 2019. First indigenous woman in Canada to obtain a PhD in astrophysics, she received her diploma from Université Laval by studying regions of stellar formation in spiral galaxies. Laurie Rousseau-Nepton previously received the Hubert Reeves Fellowship and the Award for native women in sciences of the Association des femmes diplômées des universités du Québec. She is now leading an international project called SIGNALS, aiming at observing thousands of newly born stars in galaxies close to the Milky Way to understand how their birthplace affect the rest of their life and the galaxies evolution. You can visit Laurie's website here.


Woman in a grey knit sweater holding a hard hat and standing in an office

Yumna Nasir
National Director of Operations – Technology, Plan Group

Education: Bachelor of Applied Technology (B.A.Tech.), Conestoga College

Yumna Nasir grew up in Waterloo and graduated from Conestoga’s Architecture, Project & Facilities Management Degree Program. She is currently the National Director of Operations – Technology for Plan Group where she works alongside a team of engineers, designers, directors, project managers, site supers and many others, to deliver some of the largest and advanced, multi-billion dollar hospitals, courthouses, arenas, commercial towers and more. At Plan Group she has grown the Engineering and Design arm of Technology so that projects in Canada and internationally can be supported by the leaps and bounds that technology makes daily. Yumna is passionate about building for the future and building in a way that helps our day-to-day society move with ease. She is also a member of the Project Advisory Committee at Conestoga and helps to connect students with real world challenges and life-long experiences. LinkedIn, Plan Group


Woman in yellow shirt and grey pants sitting in a motorized wheelchair

Emily Ackerman
Postdoctoral Researcher in Systems Biology at Harvard Medical School
Board of Directors at Future of Research

Education: PhD Chemical Engineering, University of Pittsburgh; BS Chemical Engineering, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

Dr. Emily Ackerman is a postdoctoral researcher in the Systems Biology department at Harvard Medical School. Her work in the Lahav Lab uses computational methods to understand p53 signalling dynamics. She recently completed her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at the University of Pittsburgh where she was supported by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as a Gilliam Fellow. As a disabled researcher, Emily is devoted to activism surrounding disability justice both inside and outside of academia with a particular interest in the interaction between disability, technology, and education. She has published writings and spoken publicly on her identity as a disabled woman in computational science and her experience with the way science and technology fields exclude disabled voices. In addition, Emily serves on the board of directors of Future of Research and co-leads the Labor Task Force, a project aimed at assessing and improving the labor conditions of academic workers. Twitter: @EmilyEAckerman, Website


Woman wearing a black dress standing outside in a hallway

Ella Chan (she/her)
Founder of STEM-Files, Genome BC Digital Media Outreach Specialist

Education: Doctor of Medicine (in progress), UBC; 3 years toward BSc Pharmacology, UBC

Ella Chan is in her first year at UBC Medicine in Vancouver, BC. She first became interested in medicine and science because of her brother's kidney condition and has since been looking for opportunities to get involved in the knowledge translation of science into more accessible media. She started a YouTube channel, Sci Files, when she was twelve, which is dedicated to encouraging all to pursue degrees in STEAM fields. Ella is a recipient of the UBC Presidential Scholars Award and the 2018 Ingenium-NSERC STEAM Horizon Award. She is also a member of the UNESCO Youth Advisory Group in the Natural Sciences and works as Genome BC's Digital Media Outreach Specialist. Instagram & Twitter: @Stem_files, YouTube, LinkedIn

Future events:

Perimeter Institute seeks to involve a diverse group of STEM mentors in this annual event supporting the UN's International Day of Women and Girls in Science. If you are interested in sharing your story at a future event, please contact us at [email protected].

What is it like to be a woman in physics?

Illustration with women's faces and some science graphics


Perimeter students, researchers, and staff share their experiences in celebration of the International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Read their stories here.


Forces of Nature poster series

Illustration of portraits of women's faces

Women have been historically under-represented in physics; progress is happening, but there is much work to be done. Part of making positive change includes celebrating the contributions women have made to science, especially those women overlooked in their time.

That’s why Perimeter Institute has created the free “Forces of Nature” poster series. New posters have been released in time for IDWGS 2022. Download your copies here and read more about the pioneering women of stellar astronomy here.

Escape the museum

Collage of illustrations of famous women's faces

In this free online escape room activity, you are accidentally locked in the Forces of Nature Museum after it closes, and will need to solve a series of challenges to escape! The puzzles require logic and creativity; advanced mathematical skills are not required but the youngest members of your household might prefer these colouring pages instead. Play the online version or download the classroom edition.

Presenting partner

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Past IFWIS events