Kerry Bennett, Local Author and Board Member

Science writer and Festival board member Kerry Bennett is working on a new book, Girls Just Like You Who Grew Up to Become… Scientists (Flagstaff edition), and we’ll be publishing chapters on the Festival of Science website in coming weeks.

Kerry believes there’s a compelling reason to write about Flagstaff’s women scientists, especially now.

“This book is for girls of all ages who are interested in the world around them!”

Kerry shares with us, “Girls—as well as boys—don’t always have people in their lives who can influence them in STEM (science/technology/engineering/math) fields. Even if they become interested in the sciences at an early age, there may not be anyone in their families or at school who can mentor them or introduce them to role models and resources to learn more.”

Kerry has been interviewing some of the top scientists in our community to find out how they first became interested in science—and how they eventually realized their dreams of becoming scientists.

"Their stories are fascinating, and I hope kids in our community will enjoy learning more about their journeys!”

Although the book was initially intended for girls ages 8-14, Kerry said, “This book is for kids of all ages who want to explore the world around them. I hope that readers will see themselves in roles that involve science and technology across a wide range of fields, from biology to computer science.”

The scientists themselves come from many different ethnic backgrounds and communities, including Indigenous scientists and one even came from India. Kerry has interviewed microbiologist Emily Cope, computer scientist Morgan Vigil-Hayes, biochemist Naomi Lee, cancer biochemist Archana Varadaraj, disease ecologist Bridget Barker, and ecologist and conservationist Clare Aslan.

She explained she’s been focusing on scientists at Northern Arizona University first because of her work experience. Kerry spent nearly seven years managing research communications for NAU’s Marketing Department, where she wrote news stories and met hundreds of scientists doing interviews and photo shoots.

The book’s introduction (click to read) talks about the many different places scientists work in Flagstaff, and Kerry plans to eventually add more chapters on scientists from local organizations including Lowell Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, W. L. Gore & Associates, and the local National Park Service.

Read on to discover Chapter 1: Meet microbiologist Emily Cope which introduces readers to this local scientist and her journey to becoming an Assistant Professor at NAU.