Kate Biberdorf: Fun With Science

October 24 - On The Dot
FIRST THOUGHT: Be Your Best Self

We all have the ability to inspire others in little ways. Here at On The Dot, we share with you stories of women breaking down barriers, but we know you may not want to shatter every glass ceiling you encounter. Your journey is your own, and perhaps it’s a quiet one.

Maybe you are a woman of your word and never cancel dinner plans, or maybe you are a thoughtful woman who takes time to write a friend an old-fashioned thank-you card. The most inspiring thing about every woman is when she is her best self, whoever that is.


Since 1958, Sue Finley has worked at NASA. That’s a really long time—58 years to be exact, and it makes her NASA’s longest-serving female employee. Sue has been around at NASA through a lot: Voyagers routes, the first American satellite launching and she worked in mission control during the early lunar missions, just to name a few of her amazing experiences. And since 1997, Sue has been detecting tones emitted from the Juno spacecraft using software she helped develop. Thanks, Sue, for putting women on NASA’s radar and continuing to explore the great unknown.

WOMAN TO WATCH: Kate Biberdorf, Lecturer, Director of Demonstrations and Outreach at the University of Texas

Today’s Woman to Watch says her dream is to be the next Bill Nye, the Science Guy, and at only 30 years old, she’s rapidly getting there. Kate Biberdorf earned her Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry and teaches at the University of Texas at Austin. She’s also the director of demonstrations and outreach at the university.

Kate has a knack for exciting people of all ages through her methods of teaching science. She visits local schools and promotes the subject through Fun With Chemistry, a truly explosive outreach program meant to ignite, inspire and motivate K-12 students to develop a love for learning and exploration in the sciences. In 2015, she interacted with more than 22,000 students.

Kate may just be somewhat of a mad scientist to her students. After all, her science demonstrations include crazy, fun activities with visual elements like fire. Yes, fire! One of Kate’s favorite activities to perform is the thundercloud, in which she pours hot water into liquid nitrogen. She explains the differences between physical and chemical changes, and a floating cloud look-alike lights up the kids’ eyes. Yeah, it’ll make you say, “Whoa!”

One thing Kate hopes to accomplish through this kind of outreach and teaching is to inspire and motivate students to pursue a job in STEM. Kate was recognized for her work in this field, receiving the 2015 Natural Science Foundation Teaching Excellence Award. Always looking to expand her audience, Kate is currently teaming up with Amy Poehler’s Smart Girls to further her STEM-related mission and quash all that nonsense about women not being able to pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Whether it’s fireballs or thunderclouds, Kate makes chemistry come alive, and we’re so glad she’s encouraging the next generation of girls that science can be pretty dang fun.


More than a decade ago, Linda B. Buck was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine. Here are her wise thoughts on women working in the field of science:

“As a woman in science, I sincerely hope that my receiving a Nobel Prize will send a message to young women everywhere that the doors are open to them and that they should follow their dreams.”

This is Melinda Garvey signing off until next time. Remember, ladies, empowered women empower other women. Share On the Dot so more women can have a voice. Thanks for getting ready with us.

To learn more about our conversation, check us out at OnTheDotWoman.com and talk to us @OnTheDotWoman on Twitter and Instagram. We’d love to hear your voice.

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