Ask Better Questions

“My mother made me a scientist without ever intending to. Every other Jewish mother in Brooklyn would ask her child after school: So? Did you learn anything today? But not my mother. ‘Izzy,’ she would say, ‘did you ask a good question today?’ That difference — asking good questions — made me become a scientist.” - Isidor Rabi, Nobel Prize Winning Physicist

Curiosity is the first and most important quality of a Rocket Girl. Curious people want to find out “Why.” Rocket Girls, like all good scientists, never stop asking questions.

10 Traits of a Rocket Girl

There are 10 traits that Rocket Girls must have to launch them in a scientific career, whichever field, such as biology, medicine, chemistry, physics, geology, astronomy and engineering.

Trait #1 - Curious

The first of these traits is curiosity. Rocket Girls must be curious. Science is all about figuring things out. The curious mind is always questioning phenomena around it. So much of what we teach our science students are answers. What we need to teach them is how to question.

Leonard Susskind, known as the Father of String Theory explained to me that

“The object of a scientist is to follow his curiosity and figure out how and why things work, how and why the world works whether it's physics or biology, or [the other] sciences; indulging your curiosity.”

What do you want to know? Reengage with your curious mind. 

Hillary Clinton’s Legacy to our Daughters

It’s been 4 weeks since Hillary Clinton lost the presidency to Donald Trump’s electoral count win - currently, in the counting, Clinton’s popular vote lead has grown over 2 million. I have to admit, I’ve been having a really hard time with this. Experts say there are five stages of grief. And I feel like I’ve been manically flip-flopping among them. I’m still going through the first two stages— denial and anger — though my denial has waned. I’ve even grown to accept what I can’t change — the fifth of the five steps. 

19 Woman Scientists You Should Know



Numbered according to graphic above, not in order of importance.

lise-meitner-300x300 1. Lise Meitner (1878-1968) was an Austrian Jewish physicist who, along with Otto Hahn, discovered nuclear fission, the process in which an atom’s nucleus is split, leading to the future development of the atomic bomb.  Meitner refused to have anything to do with the development of the atomic bomb.  She was the first woman to ever become a full professor in physics.  Unfortunately, she was forced out of her academic position at the Kaiser Wilhelm Institute in Berlin under Nazi pressure, and Otto Hahn subsequently claimed sole responsibility for their findings and claimed the Nobel prize on his own.


lisa-randall-3002. Lisa Randall (1962-) is the Frank B. Baird, Jr. Professor of Science at Harvard University.  She researches particle physics and cosmology and is best-known for her contribution to the Randall-Sundrum model, which claims that the universe is 5-dimensional described by warp geometry.


mcclintock3. Barbara McClintock (1902 – 1992) was an American cytogeneticist and Cornellian who spent her life studying the genetics of maize.  In doing so, she discovered genetic recombination, the process during cellular meiosis when chromosomes crossover and exchange information.  This process of crossing-over is one of the chief contributors to genetic variation among offspring.  McClintock also discovered the role of the telomere and centromere in cell division, and was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1983.


rita-levi-montalcini-3004. Rita Levi-Montalcini (1909 – 2012) was an Italian-born neurobiologist who was awarded the Nobel Prize in 1986 for her work in discovering the nerve growth factor.  As a Jewish woman in World War II fascist Italy, Levi-Montalcini was dismissed from her university position and continued her research on chicken embryos in a makeshift laboratory in her bedroom.  She devoted much of her life to humanitarian efforts and was appointed Goodwill Ambassador of the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization in 1999 at the age of 90.


mae-jemison-3005. Mae Carol Jemison (1956 -), trained as a physician, was the first Africa-American woman to go to space, aboard the Space Shuttle Endeavor.



Commodore Grace M. Hopper, USN (covered).
6. Grace Hopper (1906-1992) was a computer scientist and Rear Admiral of the United States Navy.  Hopper created the first compiler which converts computer programming language to computer binary code.  Hopper joined the Navy WAVES during World War II and though she retired many times, she was always called back for active duty.


marie-curie-3007. Marie Curie (1867-1934) was the first woman to be awarded the Nobel Prize and the first person, woman or man, to be awarded the prize twice.  Curie helped discover radioactivity and discovered the two elements polonium and radium.



melissa-franklin-3008. Melissa Franklin (1956-) was the first female tenured physics professor at Harvard University, for which she now is department chair.  She researches particle physics and she and her team proved the existence of the top quark.




sally-ride-3009. Sally Ride (1951-2012) was the first American woman astronaut in space, flying on the Challenger twice.   After her NASA career, Ride entered the field of academia as a physics professor at the University of California in San Diego.



dian-fossey-30010. Dian Fossey (1932-1985) was a primatologist who devoted her life to studying gorillas in Rwanda.



Gertrude_Elion-30011. Gertrude Elion (1918-1919) was a biochemist who was awarded the 1988 Nobel Prize in Medicine and Physiology for her work which eventually laid the way for the development of the AIDS drug AZT.  What’s remarkable about Elion is her contribution to pharmaceutical research without ever having completed her Ph.D.



Jane_Goodall_30012. Jane Goodall (1934-) is a British primatologist and foremost expert on chimpanzees, having studied them for 55 years at the Gombe Stream National Park in Tanzania.  She is a conservationist and founder of the Roots & Shoots program which encourages environmental conservationism and focuses on humanitarian issues.



flossie-wong-30013. Flossie Wong-Staal (1947-) and her group identified HIV as the virus that causes AIDS.  She went on to clone the HIV virus and completed its genetic mapping, which enabled the development of HIV tests and HIV treatment therapies.



dorothy-hodkgin-30014. Dorothy Hodgkin (1910-1994) was the premier British crystallographer of the 20th century, known as a pioneer x-ray crystallographer.  She developed the technique of taking x-ray crystallographs of proteins, and determined the three-dimensional structures of penicillin, vitamin B12 (for which she became the third woman to ever be awarded the Nobel prize in Chemistry) and insulin.



PHOTO DATE: 04-15-14 LOCATION: Bldg. 8, Room 183 - Photo Studio SUBJECT: Official portrait of JSC Center Director Ellen Ochoa. PHOTOGRAPHER: BILL STAFFORD15. Ellen Ochoa (1958-) is an engineer, astronaut and director of the Johnson Space Center.  She was the first Hispanic woman to go into space, aboard the space shuttle Discovery.  She earned her Masters in Science and Doctorate in Electrical Engineering from Stanford University, where she also played flute for the Stanford Symphony Orchestra.



Rosalind_Franklin16. Rosalind Franklin (1920-1958) was a chemist and x-ray crystallographer who took the famous x-ray crystallography number 51 that proved unequivocally the double helix structure of the B-form of DNA.  This picture was shown to Watson of Watson and Crick fame without Franklin’s knowledge or permission, and used as the experimental basis of their Double Helix findings.  Rosalind Franklin died of ovarian cancer before the Nobel Prize was awarded to Watson and Crick because the rules of the prize preclude it from being awarded posthumously.  It is doubtful whether she would have ever received the ultimate Nobel acknowledgement had she lived.  Check out my blog post on whether I believe Rosalind Franklin would have won the Nobel Prize.



Linda-buck-30017. Linda Buck (1947-) is a biologist who received the 2004 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her work in identifying the more than 100 odor receptors in the nose and how these odors are interpreted in the brain.  She has identified thousands of genes in the mammalian genome responsible for these odor receptors.



elizabeth-blackburn-30018. Elizabeth Blackburn (1948-) was awarded the 2009 Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine for her research on the telomere, a structure at the ends of DNA strands which protect them from fusing with other DNA strands and deterioration.  Blackburn also co-discovered telomerase, the enzyme that restores the telomeres.  Blackburn and her colleagues have found a connection between telomere durability and stress and aging.  Further, she is a bioethicist who served on George W. Bush’s President’s Council on Bioethics, from which she was controversially dismissed for advice contrary to Bush’s political agenda.



rachel-carson-30019. Rachel Carson (1907-1964) was a marine biologist, conservationist and author who catalyzed the conservationist movement with her book Silent Spring.  In it, she presented scientific evidence lobbying against the extent and certain harm caused by the unregulated use of chemicals in agriculture and nature.



Whom did I leave out?  Let me know in a comment below!

Colleges with the Highest Average ACT Scores of Incoming Freshman

Which colleges have the highest average composite ACT scores among their incoming classes?  Here are the Top 100 Colleges as determined by Forbes, sorted by average ACT scores, average SAT scores and average GPA among their incoming classes.

RankingNameGPASAT CompositeACT
22Duke University4.17154034
57Harvey Mudd College4.1151034
6Harvard University4.04154034
33California Institute of Technology4.23156034
47Vanderbilt University3.76152033
21Bowdoin College3.8150033
5Yale University4.19154033
13University of Notre Dame4.11148033
32Rice University4.08151033
16Northwestern University4.11150033
3Stanford University4.18152033
63Washington University in St. Louis4.13152033
20University of Chicago4.16152033
4Princeton University3.91154033
62Johns Hopkins University3.74147032
17Wesleyan University3.76147032
25Cornell University4.01148032
14Dartmouth College4.1151032
12University of Pennsylvania3.94150032
37Boston College3.92143032
9Amherst College4.04149032
2Williams College4.05149032
56Carnegie Mellon University3.72147032
8Brown University4.05149032
1Pomona College4.08150032
19Haverford College4.01148032
7Swarthmore College4.06149031
73Cooper Union3.6140031
71University of Southern California3.73145031
15Columbia University4.13152031
40Colgate University3.66141031
28Vassar College3.99147031
29Washington and Lee University3.97145031
30Carleton College4.03148031
44Colby College3.66141031
51Hamilton College3.95145031
90Georgia Institute of Technology3.95143031
23Georgetown University3.96146031
34Middlebury College3.96145031
35University of California, Berkeley3.86144031
24Tufts University4.06149031
66Union College3.5931
67Macalester College3.88141031
18Claremont McKenna College4147031
52Reed College3.9144031
70Bates College3.89141031
74Lehigh University3.83137030
41University of Michigan, Ann Arbor3.82143030
65Grinnell College3.94142030
42Barnard College3.86142030
26Wellesley College3.96145030
39College of William & Mary4.16143030
92Connecticut College3.86140030
46Oberlin College3.59144030
79Emory University3.75143030
48Kenyon College3.9140030
31Davidson College3.9140030
93University of Maryland, College Park4.11137030
72Villanova University3.86137030
36University of Virginia4.22140030
54Smith College3.9141030
80Scripps College4.13145030
77New York University3.71141030
38United States Air Force Academy3.83137030
58Franklin and Marshall College3.81136030
59Wake Forest University3.85138030
60University of Rochester3.8141030
99University of Richmond3.8137030
75Brandeis University3.87140030
50Whitman College3.74138029
27United States Naval Academy3.86139029
61Colorado College3.84140029
95Mount Holyoke College3.66140029
55College of the Holy Cross3.82138029
85Santa Clara University3.66134029
11United States Military Academy at West Point3.8134029
64Bryn Mawr College3.85140029
91Boston University3.59137029
87Dickinson College3.75135029
43Bucknell University3.54137029
98Rhodes College3.78135029
94Occidental College3.6139029
96Denison University3.6132029
82University of Texas, Austin3.71133028
83University of Florida3.73134028
84Sewanee - University of the South3.62133028
81Trinity College3.78136028
76University of Washington3.76129028
45University of California, Los Angeles4.29137028
88Skidmore College3.71132028
89Centre College3.7131028
68University of Illionis, Urbana-Champaign3.83139028
69University of Wisconsin, Madison3.81135028
53Lafayette College3.46135028
100Trinity University3.5132028
78DePauw University3.75127027
97Wofford College3.54125026
49University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill3.29105222
86Wheaton College3.851230

These statistics were appended from the following sources:

And the individual schools' websites

Colleges with the Highest Average SAT Scores of Incoming Freshman

Which colleges have the highest average composite SAT scores among their incoming classes?  Here are the Top 100 Colleges as determined by Forbes, sorted by average SAT, average GPA and average ACT scores of their incoming classes.

RankingNameGPASAT MathSAT ReadingSAT WritingSAT CompositeACT
33California Institute of Technology4.237903938156034
22Duke University4.177803838154034
5Yale University4.197703939154033
6Harvard University4.047703938154034
4Princeton University3.917803838154033
15Columbia University4.137603838152031
20University of Chicago4.167603838152033
47Vanderbilt University3.767703837152033
63Washington University in St. Louis4.137703838152033
3Stanford University4.187603838152033
32Rice University4.087603737151033
14Dartmouth College4.17603838151032
57Harvey Mudd College4.17803837151034
21Bowdoin College3.87503838150033
1Pomona College4.087503837150032
16Northwestern University4.117603837150033
12University of Pennsylvania3.947503737150032
8Brown University4.057503737149032
9Amherst College4.047403737149032
24Tufts University4.067503737149031
2Williams College4.057403737149032
7Swarthmore College4.067403837149031
19Haverford College4.017403737148032
13University of Notre Dame4.117503737148033
25Cornell University4.017603737148032
30Carleton College4.037503737148031
17Wesleyan University3.767303737147032
18Claremont McKenna College47403737147031
56Carnegie Mellon University3.727603636147032
28Vassar College3.997303737147031
62Johns Hopkins University3.747403737147032
23Georgetown University3.9673037146031
26Wellesley College3.967103736145030
34Middlebury College3.967203636145031
29Washington and Lee University3.977203736145031
80Scripps College4.137103637145030
51Hamilton College3.957203636145031
71University of Southern California3.737403636145031
46Oberlin College3.597003736144030
52Reed College3.96903738144031
35University of California, Berkeley3.867403536144031
90Georgia Institute of Technology3.957403536143031
41University of Michigan, Ann Arbor3.827303536143030
39College of William & Mary4.167003736143030
37Boston College3.927203536143032
79Emory University3.757203536143030
42Barnard College3.866903636142030
65Grinnell College3.9473036142030
60University of Rochester3.87203435141030
77New York University3.717003536141030
67Macalester College3.887003636141031
54Smith College3.97003536141030
70Bates College3.897003636141031
40Colgate University3.6671035141031
44Colby College3.6671035141031
61Colorado College3.846903535140029
73Cooper Union3.67103535140031
75Brandeis University3.877103435140030
48Kenyon College3.96603635140030
92Connecticut College3.866903536140030
95Mount Holyoke College3.666703536140029
36University of Virginia4.227003535140030
64Bryn Mawr College3.857003535140029
31Davidson College3.96703635140030
27United States Naval Academy3.8670035139029
94Occidental College3.66903535139029
68University of Illionis, Urbana-Champaign3.837603334139028
59Wake Forest University3.8570035138030
50Whitman College3.746603535138029
55College of the Holy Cross3.826703435138029
45University of California, Los Angeles4.296903335137028
38United States Air Force Academy3.8370034137030
99University of Richmond3.86903435137030
74Lehigh University3.8371033137030
72Villanova University3.866903435137030
93University of Maryland, College Park4.1170034137030
91Boston University3.596903335137029
43Bucknell University3.546903435137029
58Franklin and Marshall College3.8174034136030
81Trinity College3.786603435136028
87Dickinson College3.756603434135029
98Rhodes College3.786503435135029
69University of Wisconsin, Madison3.817003234135028
53Lafayette College3.466703334135028
11United States Military Academy at West Point3.86703433134029
83University of Florida3.736503334134028
85Santa Clara University3.6667034134029
84Sewanee - University of the South3.626403434133028
82University of Texas, Austin3.716603333133028
96Denison University3.665034132029
100Trinity University3.56503333132028
88Skidmore College3.716403334132028
89Centre College3.76303333131028
76University of Washington3.766603132129028
78DePauw University3.756303132127027
97Wofford College3.546103131125026
86Wheaton College3.856341230
49University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill3.2955028105222
66Union College3.5931

These statistics were appended from the following sources:

And the individual schools' websites

Colleges with the Highest Average GPAs of Incoming Freshman

Which colleges have the highest average GPAs among their incoming classes?  Here are the Top 100 Colleges as determined by Forbes, sorted by average GPA, average SAT and average ACT scores of their incoming classes.

RankingNameGPASAT MathSAT CompositeACT
45University of California, Los Angeles4.29690137028
33California Institute of Technology4.23790156034
36University of Virginia4.22700140030
5Yale University4.19770154033
3Stanford University4.18760152033
22Duke University4.17780154034
39College of William & Mary4.16700143030
20University of Chicago4.16760152033
80Scripps College4.13710145030
63Washington University in St. Louis4.13770152033
15Columbia University4.13760152031
13University of Notre Dame4.11750148033
93University of Maryland, College Park4.11700137030
16Northwestern University4.11760150033
14Dartmouth College4.1760151032
57Harvey Mudd College4.1780151034
1Pomona College4.08750150032
32Rice University4.08760151033
24Tufts University4.06750149031
7Swarthmore College4.06740149031
2Williams College4.05740149032
8Brown University4.05750149032
9Amherst College4.04740149032
6Harvard University4.04770154034
30Carleton College4.03750148031
25Cornell University4.01760148032
19Haverford College4.01740148032
18Claremont McKenna College4740147031
28Vassar College3.99730147031
29Washington and Lee University3.97720145031
23Georgetown University3.96730146031
26Wellesley College3.96710145030
34Middlebury College3.96720145031
90Georgia Institute of Technology3.95740143031
51Hamilton College3.95720145031
65Grinnell College3.94730142030
12University of Pennsylvania3.94750150032
37Boston College3.92720143032
4Princeton University3.91780154033
54Smith College3.9700141030
31Davidson College3.9670140030
48Kenyon College3.9660140030
52Reed College3.9690144031
70Bates College3.89700141031
67Macalester College3.88700141031
75Brandeis University3.87710140030
27United States Naval Academy3.86700139029
72Villanova University3.86690137030
92Connecticut College3.86690140030
35University of California, Berkeley3.86740144031
42Barnard College3.86690142030
86Wheaton College3.856341230
64Bryn Mawr College3.85700140029
59Wake Forest University3.85700138030
61Colorado College3.84690140029
74Lehigh University3.83710137030
38United States Air Force Academy3.83700137030
68University of Illionis, Urbana-Champaign3.83760139028
55College of the Holy Cross3.82670138029
41University of Michigan, Ann Arbor3.82730143030
69University of Wisconsin, Madison3.81700135028
58Franklin and Marshall College3.81740136030
21Bowdoin College3.8750150033
11United States Military Academy at West Point3.8670134029
99University of Richmond3.8690137030
60University of Rochester3.8720141030
98Rhodes College3.78650135029
81Trinity College3.78660136028
76University of Washington3.76660129028
47Vanderbilt University3.76770152033
17Wesleyan University3.76730147032
87Dickinson College3.75660135029
79Emory University3.75720143030
78DePauw University3.75630127027
50Whitman College3.74660138029
62Johns Hopkins University3.74740147032
83University of Florida3.73650134028
71University of Southern California3.73740145031
56Carnegie Mellon University3.72760147032
77New York University3.71700141030
88Skidmore College3.71640132028
82University of Texas, Austin3.71660133028
89Centre College3.7630131028
95Mount Holyoke College3.66670140029
85Santa Clara University3.66670134029
40Colgate University3.66710141031
44Colby College3.66710141031
84Sewanee - University of the South3.62640133028
96Denison University3.6650132029
73Cooper Union3.6710140031
94Occidental College3.6690139029
91Boston University3.59690137029
66Union College3.5931
46Oberlin College3.59700144030
43Bucknell University3.54690137029
97Wofford College3.54610125026
100Trinity University3.5650132028
53Lafayette College3.46670135028
49University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill3.29550105222

These statistics were appended from the following sources:

And the individual schools' websites