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Comic-Con S.T.E.A.M. superheroes are scientists without capes on education mission

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Matthew Bowler
Scientists share with KPBS News a mission to support STEAM learning for underserved communities.

Among the panels at San Diego Comic-Con this weekend, there is a group of women who are considered Superheroes. Not because they have superhuman powers, but because of their intelligence and scientific backgrounds.

Their panel on Saturday will feature six female scientists who want to inspire children to embrace careers in STEAM (science, technology, engineering, art and math).

Jasmine L. Sadler is an aerospace engineer who is also a ballerina. As a scientist, Sadler has worked on technologies turning air into energy and she’s also done software design. She started dancing as a child in her hometown of Detroit, Michigan. There was something in the way she moved and later performed as a competitive ballerina that inspired her to chase her aerospace engineering dreams, as well. She said, “there is a connection in how a dancer flies above a stage just like an airplane in the sky.” Now she’s sharing her experience with students through her company, The STEAM Collaborative, which focuses on education through an artistic perspective.

“Teachers are superheroes,” she continued, “we take impressionable minds and we put gifts in those...so once those flourish then you can create all kinds of technology and innovation which is all around us.”

Dr. Beata Mierzwa is a molecular biologist at UC San Diego and she designs fashion based on the science she sees in a microscope. She’s as comfortable in a multi-color dress as her white lab coat which she wears while conducting experiments. “I was torn between the two because I didn’t have any role models,” Mierzwa said, “ I decided to go for biology first only later did I discover I could combine my passions and create science and art.”

She now studies how different types of cells divide and how that can help treat cancer and maybe someday cure it.

Sam Wynns is a conservation biologist also known as the Mother of Snakes because of her work at the Cabrillo National Monument. She gathers data as a field biologist. During any given day she can be found wrangling snakes and educating groups at the national park about climate change. She is most proud of her annual summer science camp for underprivileged girls.

“If these people had been invited to the scientific table, if underserved groups had been there, maybe climate change would not be what it is and maybe we could have cures for cancer.”

Comic-Con S.T.E.A.M. superheroes are scientists without capes on education mission