Skip Navigation

Women in Science Day 2021

Skip Side Navigation
February 11, 2021

Women in Science Day 2021

The UN has declared February 11 as Women in Science Day, an opportunity to learn about the significant role of women in science and help support and promote the sciences to women and girls around the world. At OU-Tulsa, we’re proud to recognize just a few of the women leading the way in our scientific research, discovery, and instruction.

Carolyn Cheema,  PT, MPT, OCS, FAAOMPT

Assistant Professor, Department of Rehabilitation Sciences

Q: How did you decide to pursue a career in a science-related field?

A: I always excelled in school and my father encouraged me towards a health/medical career. I went to “Sooner Saturday” as a high-school senior and came across the physical therapy program. This was interesting to me, as I have a brother that had a need for pediatric physical therapy when we were children, so I understood that this profession helped improve mobility and independence for those who had a disability or injury. I went that route in undergrad and never looked back.

Q: What advice do you have for female students interested in the science fields? 

 A: Pick a field you are passionate about and go for it. Find a mentor that inspires you and challenges you.

Q: Anything else you think would be good for us to know?

A:  I am currently pursuing a Doctor of Science degree in Rehabilitation Sciences, I work full-time, and I am a wife and mother. We can “have it all”, but you have to really want it!

Emma Kientz,  DNP, APRN-CNS, CNE

Assistant Professor; Interim Asst. Dean for College of Nursing Programs – Tulsa

Q:How did you decide to pursue a career in a science-related field?

A: I knew I wanted a profession where I could help people and make a decent salary; nursing was the best of both worlds.  

Q: What got you into science?

A: I had great teachers in High School and took all of the science and math courses I could.  It helped too in narrowing my choice in professions that I had an older sister who was a nurse; she was the first in our family to go to college and she just seemed to enjoy the profession and what she was doing.  In the nursing program she went to, she had to wear a really cool blue cape over her white uniform (and with her white nursing cap)….who wouldn’t want a blue cape to wear?  I could also see where she was applying a lot of the biology and chemistry that I was learning in her work. It has been a great profession that has taken me into bedside nursing, management, an officer in the military, research, and as a nursing faculty.  While the majority of my roles has been in various states in the U.S., I currently lead the College of Nursing’s Study Abroad to Arezzo, Italy so get a taste of healthcare beyond the U.S.   With so very much variety – who wouldn’t want to be a nurse?  

Q: What advice do you have for female students interested in the science fields?  

A: Take as many math and science courses as you can, but be well-rounded in your studies.  There is a lot of science in nursing….Biology with how the body works; chemistry with medications and research protocols, to name a few.  Be curious and engaged with what you are doing; volunteer and meet new people outside your immediate circle of friends!  And if considering nursing, keep your creative spirit alive as well…..writing skills and learning a different language are a plus! 

Q: Anything else you think would be good for us to know?

A: It is often said that nursing is an art and a science; nurses are with people at their most vulnerable of times; we see new life brought into the world and likewise see the end of life as well……how awesome is that?!  

Jennifer Bagley,  MPH, RDMS, RVT, FAIUM, FSDMS

Professor, College of Allied Health at OU-Tulsa, Department of Sonography 

Q: How did you decide to pursue a career in a science-related field?

A: Like many kids, I thought I wanted to be a veterinarian and work with animals, but my junior high science teacher told me I should spend my efforts on being a doctor for people.   My father was a radiologist which must have had some influence on me, and as teenager, I found myself reading his medical school text books for hours!  However,  my decision to go into diagnostic medical sonography was due to the urging and mentorship of my mother. I chose the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center sonography program because it was the only in-state sonography program at the time.  I did not know about the program history or that it was considered one of the most prestigious top sonography programs in the country.   Had I known, I might have been too intimidated to apply!

Q:  What advice do you have for female students interested in the science fields?

A: My advice for young girls and women who wish to go into science is to take all  science classes that are offered in high school, and get a good foundation in math and statistics.  Having a good foundation from high school and early college will give you many options for your science and/or health career.  

Q: Anything else you think would be good for us to know.

A: Take advantage of any opportunities you get in college to study abroad, or spend time in a lab or in the field on a research project as an assistant or for college credit.  Don’t be too afraid to ask your parents for permission!  It is how you find mentors who can help you get started in your career.  

Mary Isaacson,  EdD, OTR/L, FAOTA, ATP

Associate Professor, Occupational Therapy Program Director

Q. How did you decide to pursue a career in a science-related field? 

A: I was struggling with knowing what my future career plan should be. Ultimately, I knew that I wanted to help people.  My natural strengths and tendencies were both scientific and creative. 

Q: What got you into science? 

A: My mom was in the medical field, so I was very drawn to science.  We did crazy things together like science experiments and exploring our world through a microscope.  My dad on the other hand was very creative, with the mind of an engineer.   We spent our weekends together designing and working on projects together.  

Q: What advice do you have for female students interested in the science fields?

A: So, what to do?  I enjoyed both science and art, and I wanted to help people!  I was very involved in the youth organization Camp Fire, and I was working towards earning my “WoHeLo” Medallion (stands for Work Health Love), the highest award in Camp Fire, quite similar to an Eagle Scout.  One of my camp fire mentors introduced me to Occupational Therapy and through my Camp Fire “WoHeLo” experience I observed occupational therapists at work with children and adults at various hospitals and rehabilitation facilities. I quickly learned that occupational therapy was the perfect career for me.

Occupational therapy is the only profession that helps people across the lifespan to do the things they want and need to do through the therapeutic use of daily activities (occupations). Occupational therapy practitioners enable people of all ages to live life to its fullest by helping them promote health, and prevent—or live better with—injury, illness, or disability. 

Q: Anything else you think would be good for us to know.

A: When I reflect back to those days of not knowing I often wonder what my life would look like today had I not found my “perfect career”.  I encourage other individuals interested in science to:

    1.      Ask yourself what you like to do, and what are your strengths?

    2.     What career fields provide you the opportunity to do those things?

    3.     Get involved in organizations that focus on helping you to learn and to grow, such as Camp Fire, Scouts, or clubs at your school. 

    4.     Search the internet.  What are your options?  If you believe there is something out there that you might like to do, schedule an observation time.  If told no, try another place. 

    5.     Consider working in the field as a technician.  

    6.     Take extra classes in high school to strengthen your skills, i.e. AP science courses, physics, etc. 

    7.     Schedule a time to meet with student services, or professors who teach in the field that you are considering.

    8.     Study hard, work hard, and enjoy. You’ve got this!