Meet Dr. Meredith Hastings — Leading ESWN into the Future

A Series of Essays about the Earth Science Women’s Network (#ESWN) and #Scienceathon

I would enjoy writing my essays about each of my 12 colleagues on the ESWN Board. But, on this last day of Science-A-Thon, I’ll devote the last article to ESWN President, Meredith Hastings.

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ESWN Founders in 2002: Allison Steiner, Becky Alexander, Tracey Holloway, Meredith Hastings, Arlene Fiore, and Amanda Staudt

Meredith and I were among the six women in 2002 who first hatched the idea for an email list that became ESWN. Meredith is one of my best friends. We were running partners in grad school; she drove the moving van when I moved from New York to Wisconsin; and she flew out to my wedding in the midst of her chemotherapy. We split a hotel room at our first scientific conference in 1998, and we still split hotel rooms whenever we’re at a meeting together. We’re rooming together in Colorado next week, and in Washington, DC in December. If I had a sister in science, it would be Meredith.

Meredith is dedicated to the full scope of ESWN’s work — the career resources, the peer-mentoring and online advice, the role we play in the scientific community. But above all, Meredith is devoted to the direct service ESWN provides for scientists through our multi-day workshops.

With Meredith’s dedication, ESWN has become known for high-impact, skills-based workshops. We have hosted these workshops in California, Colorado, Wisconsin, Rhode Island, DC, and Germany. We roll out mini versions at major conferences, and spin-off seminars at various universities. The ESWN workshops tackle the professional skills needed for success in science, from networking to leadership to management to communications.

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Meredith in Greenland, holding an ice core

There is really nothing in science like the ESWN workshops. A formal evaluation in 2013[1]described the “[w]arm, friendly, and empowering atmosphere” with “[o]pportunities to network and develop a community, and to make new friends,” noting the “effectiveness of the facilitators and activities.” I regularly meet women who tell me how their life was changed by an ESWN workshop. They found their place in science. They had the skills to negotiate a raise. They had the confidence to lead a new project. I’ve attended many of the ESWN workshops myself, and I can cite the benefits of each one in my career today.

Many of these workshops were developed from 2009–2013 through a $1 Million grant from the National Science Foundation, led by Meredith. She has served as the point person for many subsequent workshops, and makes sure each one is better than the last. Meredith personally leads trainings on mentoring and diversity, for audiences from students to department chairs.

When ESWN formed as a non-profit in 2014, we did so for practical reasons. We had no bank account, so it was impossible to reserve a meeting room or to pay for a conference call. I served as the first president of the organization, stepping down at the end of 2017 to focus on fundraising as Treasurer.

I was so happy when Meredith stepped in to serve as President. Meredith has the insight and leadership skills to steer the organization into its next phase. A phase that can maximize the amazing leadership of our board, our 15-year track record of supporting science and scientists, and the innovations that have emerged from our group — from frameworks for peer-mentoring, to training to prevent sexual harassment, to workshops that train scientists to succeed.

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Meredith, far right, and other members of the ESWN Board at Brown University in 2016, part of a multi-day workshop on diversity and careers

My own focus is fundraising, despite the awkwardness that comes from asking for money. I have come to realize that it is a major loss for science and society if the successes of ESWN is limited to the hours and energy of the ESWN Board. Investment in ESWN, by companies, foundations, and individuals, will make a huge difference for women and for science.

We are building on our track-record of success for women in the earth sciences and expanding to support diversity and empowerment for next-generation scientists across all fields of STEM.

I invite you to join this effort!

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.


Tracey Holloway is the Gaylord Nelson Distinguished Professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, and on the Board of ESWN. She leads

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