[Organo] Metal Chemistry: Yael Schuster joins Real Scientists

We bid farewell to Prof Marc Tennant, dentistry and public health advocate extraordinaire, and move now from Australia to Israel. Our net curator is Dr Yael Schuster (@ScienceforGirls), Research Associate at the famous Weizmann Institute of Science, Israel. Yael finished university at 19 at the University of Pittsburgh, followed that with a PhD in organometallic chemistry and now finds herself researching ancient climates on Earth, with a particular interest in the rise of oxygen levels.  But that’s just her day job – she also communicates science and is the founder of The Know It Alls – a science book series for girls with its own toys.  We asked Yael our usual set of questions, and here she is in her own words:


I’ve always liked investigating and building things, since I was a little girl. My parents got me a microscope and we would build rockets and stink bombs and anything we could get our hands on. When I got to high school, I was really curious why materials had specific colors. Once I figured that out, I had a whole new bunch of questions- eventually I ended up with a chemistry degree. It’s all been downhill from there!




I did my PhD in organometallic chemistry because I loved the idea of “playing” with molecules and making new things nobody had ever synthesized. Also, I found a really amazing advisor in that field- I think I could have been interested in a lot of fields but it was very important to me to be working with good people. I then worked in patents, then nanochemistry, and finally I have landed in geochemistry. I work with an amazing group, and get to build all sorts of environments to try to replicate very bizarre environments. It’s like lego for adults!






Tell us about your work?

Well, my work is in two parts. First is the day job- the grownup science, per se. We research paleoclimate- the atmosphere and oceans of billions of years ago. In particular we study the period concerned with the rise of oxygen.


My other job is much more exciting. I have created a startup to make science toys for girls. I’ve become very aware of the obstacles that women face in the professional, especially scientific world. I want to do my part to change the world and help start telling our young girls that science belongs to them, too. So, we’ve created a toy to engage young girls and get them interested in science.


Motivation: why should the lay public care about your research/work?

On the geology side, it’s fun to learn about the creation processes of our planet. Not so practical, but fun.

But the issues having to do with girls and minorities in science are something that everyone should care about. We would all benefit from working and living in a more diverse scientific world.


Do you have any interesting external/extracurricular obligations?

I have two kids, a full time job, and a startup. There’s not really much time for anything else.

I am actually not half bad at riding a unicycle, and I love long distance running. I also sew- I used to make clothes but now I mostly make costumes for my kids.


How would you describe your ideal day off? (Scientists are people too!)

Camping and hiking with my kids, eating BBQ and reading good books.



Please welcome Yael Schuster (@ScienceforGirls) to Real Scientists!

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