Kerry Bennett, Local Author and Board Member

Earlier this year, we introduced Girls Just Like You Who Grew Up to Become… Scientists (Flagstaff edition), a new book by local science writer and Festival board member Kerry Bennett. Each month, we’ve highlighted one chapter of the book and one Flagstaff scientist.

In Chapter 5, we meet Northern Arizona University Associate Professor Bridget Barker. Dr. Barker is a disease ecologist who studies diseases caused by bacteria, fungi, and viruses, chiefly Valley Fever. We learn how Bridget first became interested in science and math, and how early on she became obsessed with the basic principles of genetics—including the Punnett Square—and her advice for girls who want to become scientists.

Bridget, who grew up in Montana, encourages girls interested in science to be persistent in following their dreams. Bridget also talks about the journey to becoming a scientist.

“Be persistent and don't let anyone tell you that it's something you can’t do. Follow your heart, follow your gut. And learn as much as you can.”

Bridget tells us, “There are a lot of really great biographies about female scientists and their journeys. Read a lot and try to understand what your options are. Realize that the struggles are real, and you’re going to face adversity, so work on being resilient.”

The book’s introduction talks about the many different places scientists work in Flagstaff, and Kerry plans to eventually add more chapters on scientists from local organizations including the Museum of Northern Arizona, Lowell Observatory, U.S. Geological Survey, W. L. Gore & Associates, and the local National Park Service. You can find newly released chapters on the “Festival Insights” blog.

Kerry says, “I selected these scientists from a variety of fields because I think they have important things to say to girls who want to become successful. Each of them has a unique perspective on what it takes and shares helpful advice.”

Do you know a Flagstaff girl who wants to be a scientist someday? Take a look at the chapters published so far: