FabFems: Leading Women in STEM!

Mentors are a critical component to creating sustained interest among girls in STEM fields. Below are five women who’ve volunteered as role models through the FabFems Project. These women are leaders within their respective industries, who recognize the importance of broadening the STEM workforce. By sharing inspiring stories, sound advice, and (often indirect) pathways into the world of STEM, these role models seek active roles to recruit and retain girls in STEM.  


Kerri Steenwerth


“Great mentors and professors were the most important part of getting to where I am now. They pushed me to apply for grants and scholarships to conduct research.”

Creativity isn’t the first word you’d normally associate with a Research Scientist, but Kerri Steenwerth recognized that biology is an area where you can constantly learn about new areas of research and other scientific disciplines. She chose her career as a Soil Scientist because she was interested in how to create a healthy, functioning soil to support wildlands, restored ecosystems, and agriculture. Her job has been an eye-opening experience where she’s been able to travel and meet with other scientists in different parts of the world. She especially enjoys the mentoring and outreach opportunities that occur when she works with growers, students, my own employees, and other stakeholders. 

Read more about Kerri Steenwerth’s STEM pathway and advice to aspiring STEM students!


Whitney Knapp

For those of you just starting your journey, follow your dreams, and you will achieve your goals!”

Growing up on Maryland's Eastern Shore, Whitney was exposed at a young age to the health problems of the Chesapeake Bay and the impacts of over fishing. She witnessed firsthand the continued development of the lower Eastern Shore of Maryland and the effects the increased population has had on the coastal area. These experiences, combined with her love for the ocean and the environment, led her to pursue a career in Environmental Management. 

Read more about Whitney Knapp’s STEM pathway and advice to aspiring STEM students! 


Marcela Ewert Sarmiento

“I encourage you to explore the available science classes in college. They may require some extra work, but they will give you a better understanding of the world and most likely provide fun times!”  

Born and raised in Colombia (South America), and Marcela decided to study biology because it allowed her to learn about all things related to nature. When she finished college, she received a scholarship for a Master’s degree in Astronomy, which eventually led to her pursuing a PhD at the University of Washington, studying microbes that live inside the ice in the Arctic Ocean. Microbes have been a gateway for Marcela to learn a lot about the environmental problems that affect our planet, as well as potential solutions affecting our future.

Read more about Marcela Ewert Sarmiento’s STEM pathway and advice to aspiring STEM students! 


Marci Koski

Marci is a fish biologist working with the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service whose day-to-day activities include planning conservation activities for threatened and endangered freshwater fish such as bull trout. An example of this great work? A few months ago, she helped catalyze a bull trout reintroduction project to restore the threatened fish in a part of their historic range - a place where they hadn't been seen since 1963! Prior to her current position, she worked for the Service in their regulatory branch, where she reviewed development projects and worked with project proponents to minimize environmental impacts, particularly in respect to threatened and endangered plants and animals.

Read more about Marci Koski’s STEM pathway and advice to aspiring STEM students!


Samantha Oester

"I'm passionate about communicating science and conservation awareness to the public, and I also feel strongly that 

girls should be encouraged to use their brains by embracing their interests, intelligence and curiosity.”

Although Samantha is a conservation biologist and environmental scientist working with George Mason University and several non-profits, she is also a graduate student at GMU, furthering her education and research opportunities. As an environmental scientit, she has a broad, interdisciplinary range of interests and pursuits in the fields of biology, ecology, education and policy. She has been able to conduct research locally, in the DC area, as well as the Amazon, Galapagos and other conservation hot spots. Samantha did not always know that STEM was her calling. She used to work in communications; working closely with scientists to communicate their work and ideas, she decided she wanted to do research with them, rather than write about it.

Read more about Samantha Oester’s STEM pathway and advice to aspiring STEM students!  

You can become a FabFem too - Register to be part of an expanding network on exceptional women today!