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Turning a Ferrari into a Physics Degree

There are too many days when sexism and misogyny feels overwhelming – this week I read posts about some horrific anthropomorphic pencil sharpeners, I can’t even bear to describe the figures but there are posts and pictures at femnisting the mood to be disgusted and outraged.

But my first blog post on Fairer Science will actually feature something positive, due to an article my scientist husband pointed out to me. The article features Cynthia Bamdad, who is the founder and Chief Scientific Officer at Minerva Biotechnologies. The article itself, from MIT’s Technology Review is from from 2004 but it still made me happy.

First off, I love the company name. I generally find the names of Biotech companies to be pretty boring and not only is this one not boring, it’s named after a goddess! And not just any goddess, but according to Wikipedia , Miinerva was “was considered to be the virgin goddess of warriors, poetry, medicine, wisdom, commerce, crafts, and the inventor of music.” No comment from me on the virgin goddess aspect but that’s a pretty cool combination (plus as a crafty diva I like the combination of wisdom and crafts). The article doesn’t discuss the origin of the company name but mentions that prior to becoming a scientist Dr. Bamdad was an artist so I can only assume we like the name for the same reasons.

Goddesses aside, the article about Dr. Bamdad was a nice success story. After her divorce her only asset was a Ferrari, which she then sold to fund an undergraduate degree in physics. That led to a PhD from Harvard, patents, and success in the private sector. Dr. Bamdad went a step further and started her own company: “Like many first-time entrepreneurs, Bamdad was spurred to mount her own steed by watching someone else get extremely rich off of her work.”

So, boo to nasty pencil sharpeners and yay to science goddesses everywhere.

Thanks to Gary Lavine for the link!

Posted by Pat for Jenn


Minerva is also the 'mascot' of the Max-Planck-Society.

Dr. Bamdad is indeed an extremely creative, very intelligent and hard-working woman. However, the rest of the story regarding her situation after her return to school at Northeastern University is creative, but largely untrue. She sold her Ferrari long before her divorce, and it was not her only asset. I know because I lived with her and then was married to her throughout her education at Northeastern and Harvard. Throughout this time, she received significant monthly child support, as well as the support I provided. She also received significant intellectual assistance. That said, her achievements at Minerva are impressive.

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