In celebration of International Women in Science Day, Momentum Labs is highlighting inspiring women in the field of STEM who have had a positive impact on the Alachua-Gainesville region.
To continue the celebration of International Women in Science Day, Momentum Labs had the opportunity to speak with Amy L. Kramer who serves as the Senior Director of Global Biotech Ecosystem Development at Thermo Fisher Scientific.
What area of STEM initially sparked your interest?
All aspects of STEM are so important when it comes to encouraging women to consider these roles, but given my background and the company I work for, science is what is closest to my heart.
Who has been a mentor to you in this industry or Who is a female role model in this industry?
I feel so fortunate to have had so many strong female mentors along my journey (including my Mom!), starting with my first job as a lab technician at Johns Hopkins University upon graduation from college. The research investigator I worked for took a sincere interest in helping me think about my future and the different directions I could take, and she encouraged me to continue my education. Pursuing my Masters degree in Business, coupled with my undergraduate degree in Biology, enabled me to quickly find a job that has since turned into a nearly 30 year career with Thermo Fisher Scientific. Over this time, I have benefitted from working for and with numerous strong and brilliant female leaders in this company, whom I continually learn from to this day.
What project or initiative have you been a part of that you feel made a positive impact?
We actually have a strong STEM program at Thermo Fisher and colleagues are encouraged to work within our communities to support STEM education. While working in Maryland a few years back, I identified a school within Baltimore City and offered to run a STEM program for their 6th grade students. I assembled a team of colleagues and we volunteered our time over the course of 8 weeks to run “The Thermo Fisher STEM Design Challenge”, which is an internally developed program for students in grades 4 – 8 that challenges them to create a solution to a problem using donated K’nex kits specially designed for Thermo Fisher. We had approximately 60 students put into teams of 4-6, who then over the course of 8 weeks had to work with their teammates to design and build a structure that met certain height and weight bearing requirements. On the final competition day, all teams had to start from scratch and working together, re-build their structure within a set timeframe. The day ended with a luncheon and awards celebration, with all students earning a certificate and the winners all going home with a trophy. A few weeks later, I received a large envelope in the mail with dozens of letters from the students. The many different things they thanked me for was eye-opening and inspiring. Some thanked me for the opportunity to make a new friend by being put on a team with people they weren’t friends with. Many thanked me for the certificate or trophy, citing it was the first they had ever received. Others said they wanted to become engineers or architects, and many said they wanted to go into science after learning more about our company and the scientific community we serve.
How have you been encouraged to overcome challenges in this industry?
Having a mentor can be critical, as many young women may not have a support structure at home. So I would encourage any young women to seek out a role model – a teacher, a coach or neighbor, who would be willing to act as a mentor, offering support and encouragement. I was fortunate to have a mother who encouraged me to love and embrace the sciences.
What is your best piece of advice for young women pursuing a career in STEM?
Do it!! I don’t think any young woman will regret the decision, as the possibilities are endless. Women bring a different perspective to problem-solving and our world will always have an endless array of problems to solve. STEM careers are exciting and companies are actively looking for women to move into these critical roles!
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