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Bugs and a good teacher sparked Gail Lemiec’s career path. She vividly remembers examining different insects and learning their scientific order during her seventh-grade science class.

“That was when my love of science really blossomed,” said Lemiec. “I won the top student in science award that year.”

Lemiec continued to follow her interest as she grew. She chose an undergraduate degree based on animal behavior, conducted conservation research with wolves, and now shares her passion for science at the North Carolina Aquarium at Fort Fisher as an educator.

Lemiec and several of her aquarium colleagues wanted to do more to encourage girls and women to explore science as a career path.

“It is important for young girls to see someone like themselves in science fields,” said Lemiec. “Research shows that starting around middle school, girls start losing interest in science.”

With that in mind, the aquarium will host Women in Science Day 10 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturday, May 4. Budding scientists, both girls and boys, can explore multiple scientific career paths and talk with working scientists. Guests can meet inspiring women in various fields including anthropology, chemistry, biology, meteorology, shark research, veterinary medicine and more. They can also discover science through hands-on activities and a women-in-science-themed scavenger hunt.

Madeline Marens, a member of the aquarium’s animal care team, is looking forward to sharing her journey and knowledge during Women in Science Day. Once told she would never find work in shark biology, Marens is now leading significant conservation research about sand tiger sharks off the coast of North Carolina.

Marens points to her own mentors who have helped her and taught her important lessons, like “find your voice and use it confidently, ask questions and don’t be afraid to make mistakes—that’s how you learn.”

Aquarium team members are quick to point out Women in Science Day is about inclusion and cutting through bias and perceptions that exist.

“Women in Science Day matters to show future scientists, both boys and girls, that we come in all shapes, sizes, colors and ages,” said N.C. Aquariums Conservation Research Coordinator Carol Price. Price earned her doctorate in Fisheries Science.

N.C. Aquariums Veterinary Technician Heather Broadhurst became interested in science as a young girl after meeting a sea lion. Now she helps provide medical care to hundreds of species of animals at the N.C. Aquariums. She encourages young women wanting to be involved in science to explore internships and immersive experiences.

As for Women in Science Day, Broadhurst says, ”Most importantly it can inspire young girls to understand the endless opportunities that are available.”


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