Meet Dr. Christine Wiedinmyer — Champion of Science Careers
A Series of Essays about the Earth Science Women’s Network (#ESWN) and #Scienceathon
Each day this week, I’ll tell you about one of my amazing peers on the ESWN Leadership Board. Today, I’m going to tell you about my friend Dr. Christine Wiedinmyer, who was an early leader of ESWN.
Christine is one of the nicest people you could ever meet. She has an infectious laugh and ready smile, shoulder length red hair, and a rosy complexion that speaks to her love of the Colorado outdoors. She is also a world-renowned atmospheric chemist, famous among other things for building a model to calculate how much smoke and chemicals are released from forest fires. She now manages the science portfolio of the University of Colorado Boulder’s largest research institute, supporting the work of over 800 people.
And, in her free time — she provides the time, energy, and love that power ESWN.
When ESWN first formed in 2002, it was simply a group of early-career scientists dealing with similar career issues. Six of us chatted at a conference and decided to keep in touch via email, since we had few women at our home institutions. We emailed each other questions and advice. Slowly the list grew bigger and bigger, as those of us in the group invited peers to join.
Christine was one of the very first people to join the email list. In fact, I met her over email before meeting her in person. At the time she worked at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado, and I was just starting as an assistant professor at the University of Wisconsin — Madison.
Just to give you an idea of my mindset back then: I had recently moved to Wisconsin to take my dream job as a tenure-track professor. But I knew, if I didn’t perform well in 6 years, I’d be fired. That’s just the deal — up or out. I felt okay about teaching, and even publishing. But the prospect of bringing in research grants was daunting, and I had no idea who would invite me to give scientific lectures … all things that were required for me to make tenure. Well, lucky for me — I had ESWN, and ESWN had Christine.
Christine and another ESWN member, Louisa Emmons, connected with me on our email list, and they invited me to visit NCAR in October 2004. That was my first invited research talk! During my visit, I met lots of new people, and talked about lots of new research ideas. When I returned home, I submitted a NASA proposal with Louisa and another NCAR scientist. That was my first big proposal!
That was just the beginning. If I were to show you my CV, many of the successes would trace directly back to ESWN and the women I met through that network. And it’s not just me — stories about the impact ESWN has had on the careers of women go on and on. And, like me, many of the stories connect with Christine. Here’s why:
The email list that Christine joined in 2002 was growing quickly through word of mouth. So quickly that it was hard to keep track of whose address should be on the list. Christine suggested that we migrate over to an automated listserve, hosted by NCAR. We all agreed this was a great idea. In the years that followed, the subscribers to the list — the “membership” of ESWN — doubled every year.
Early on, we realized that the list was a great place to share job announcements. But, we also realized that sharing of job opportunities in an all-female discussion group was problematic. We wanted our male students and colleagues to have access to this same information and resources.
In 2007 Christine created the Earth Science Jobs Network (ES_Jobs_Net). Today, that free, public, international jobs list has nearly 6000 subscribers. It is an amazing resource for job seekers and employers. Just last month, 171 jobs were posted! Christine still moderates the list as one of her ESWN Board member roles — personally approving every email that goes out. Besides sending thousands of jobs to thousands of scientists over more than 10 years, Christine serves as Secretary for ESWN, leads training workshops for junior scientists, and more!
Now, imagine the impact Christine could have on careers around the world with a little extra help. She has 800 people in her research center, but not a single person to help advance her efforts for ESWN.
We are looking to raise money to amplify the ideas and leadership of Christine and the rest of the ESWN Board, ensuring that life-changing advice, connections, and resources reach scientists looking for help in every corner of the world.
Please consider supporting ESWN at https://www.crowdrise.com/o/en/campaign/science-a-thon-2018
About the author: Tracey Holloway is the Gaylord Nelson Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and a founding member of ESWN. She currently leads Science-A-Thon, the only major fundraiser for ESWN, going on October 15–19. Scienceathon.org