Repost for Mother's Day: Did I inherit my sciency-ness?

May 08 2011 Published by under Uncategorized

Did you know that my mom is an awesome scientist, too? Well, she is, and I totally love her for it (among countless other reasons). Happy Mother's Day, Mom, and to all the science-y and non-science-y moms out there!


Originally posted 11.27.2009

After a fun-filled Thanksgiving jaunt this week to fabulous New England, J and I are back in NYC and in for the night, wrought with guilt over leaving our kitties alone for 3 days.  They were less than pleased at having been abandoned, and greeted us with their patented Evil Kitty Death Stare:


When I was home I got to talk shop with my mom, and by "shop" I don't mean "turkey basting techniques" or "Nordstrom's Christmas Sale," I mean science!  My mom is a scientist too, and I think that's so cool.  For totally boring reasons she didn't finish her PhD, so she doesn't have her own lab.  However, she does hold a senior position in a lab at a very Classy Institution where she does all kinds of exciting research--awesome, futuristic stuff that honestly does not seem all that far off from seriously saving lives.

What's interesting is that when I think about it, I don't think I became a scientist because of her.  Sure, I went to visit her lab all the time when I was growing up, but I can't think of a point where it ever occurred to me that lab work was something I'd like to pursue, too; that all came much later, and at least in my recollection, it was totally organic.  Plus, I kind of hated science when I was in high school.

And yet, here I am!  Is it a coincidence?  Or is an aptitude and love for science something we inherit, even if we don't consciously realize it, and even if it isn't actively cultivated in us?  I'm curious as to how many of you scientists also have parents who are scientists.  If they are, how big a role do you think they played in your choice to pursue a similar path?

One area in which my mom did play a huge role was where I ultimately went to grad school.   Because I am a location snob, I hadn't planned on applying there.  But she sent me a Science article she'd come across that was published by one of this Classy Institution's faculty, with a note that said "Isn't this what you're interested in?  This is a great school--you should apply!"  She was right, of course, so I did apply, and I of course had an amazing experience whilst getting a top-notch education.  So then, to the extent that my graduate school made me the scientist I am (which I can confidently say is a non-trivial extent), I have my mom to thank for leading me there.  Thanks, mom!


4 responses so far

  • HennaHonu says:

    My grandmother was a nurse. Outside of that, I am the first in my family to go to college right after high school (mom and aunt went to community school later). No one else in my family is in any STEM field. However, I've always known I wanted to be a scientist. I have narrowed my interests as I grew older but never changed my mind.

  • Joe H. says:

    Love this! I am definitely a creation of my parents, too. My mom and dad are both computer scientists/mathematicians, one Ph.D. on M.S. There is no doubt that their worldview and attitudes had great influence on me, even if I did become a biologist and stopped at calculus.

    They are both inspirational to me, but my mom particularly, since she came up in the early 70's at a government lab, at a time when women just DID NOT get graduate degrees, and certainly not in math or computers, and CERTAINLY HELL NO did not go work with their minds surrounded by men instead of working with their hands surrounded by laundry and children. Kudos to science moms!

  • gerty-z says:

    Yay Dr. Becca's Mom! Neither of my 'rents were scientists. So if I inherited my sciency-ness then it must have been recessive 🙂 Even though my mom was not scientifically-oriented, I certainly credit her with encouraging me to ask questions, and training me to defend my conclusions. Also, she always encouraged me and my interests in science. Even though where I grew up those were not considered "appropriately feminine". YAY MOM!!

  • Mom says:

    This is the best Mother's Day present ever! I am so proud of you and all your accomplishments - it's great to know I helped contribute. Thanks Dr. Becca - love you lots!

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