Lifetime passion for science

The L'Oréal Foundation would like to pay tribute to a much-honored physicist, Professor Deborah Jin. Rewarded in 2013 from the program L'Oréal-UNESCO For Women in Science, re-discover the inspiring portrait of this woman who has dedicated her life to science.

DiscovHER - How did you discover your passion for science?

Deborah Jin - I was surrounded by science as a child. I grew up in Florida in an area called the “Space Coast” because of the proximity to the Kennedy Space Center, where NASA launched space shuttles. My father was a physics professor, and my mother worked as an engineer and has a Master’s degree in physics. I think that fact that my mother had a successful technical career was an important influence.

After my first experience in research during a summer break from college, I knew I wanted to be a scientist, and in particular, a physicist.

D/H - In addition to the influence from your parents, what attracted you to the Physical Sciences as a field of study?

DJ - The physical sciences focus on questions that can have definitive answers, and experiments that can test predictions.

D/H - What obstacles have you overcome during your career?

DJ - Being married to another scientist, one challenge was finding jobs in the same location. This was resolved by luck, as well as a willingness to make compromises and find the best solution for both. We were lucky to find jobs at JILA where we have great colleagues and where there was some flexibility and a desire to address the two body problem.

D/H - Laureates and Fellows usually agree that support from relatives and colleagues is crucial to their achievements. Who acted as mentor or role model for you?

DJ - I have had many wonderful mentors in physics, including Tom Rosenbaum at the University of Chicago where I did my Ph.D. work, and Eric Cornell and Carl Wieman in Boulder.

D/H - What do you identify as the unique contributions of women to the field of science?

DJ - I would say that any distinctive features - interests, approach, and attitude - of women as scientists simply reflects, more or less, distinctive features of women in society. I hesitate to make generalizations, because each individual scientist - either man or woman - is different and brings different interests, approaches, and attitudes to science.

Ideally, it seems to me that the number of women in science at all levels should be more or less the same as the number of men.

More about Professor Deborah Jin:

For Women in Science

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