Brown University School of Engineering Ph.D. candidate Lindsay Kuhn will be among the honorees at the Women in the Enterprise of Science and Technology (WEST) ceremony on January 25. Kuhn will receive a Making a Difference in the Community Award for her project Inventing Heron. Inventing Heron is an online community of people sharing stories about what they call work. Kuhn’s intention was to create the community so young people could learn about various careers firsthand and be inspired toward the many different science, technology, engineering and math professions.
Kuhn has a passion for learning and helping others, as evidenced by the collection of more than 500 people in careers ranging from mushroom farmers to astrophysicists who have shared their stories on her site, in written narratives and videos. She has also developed outreach programs in local schools, including an Inventing Heron inspired career fair in North Smithfield High School in Rhode Island. One of Inventing Heron’s main objectives is to encourage young people, especially women, to go into STEM, and to celebrate the everyday, hardworking person. The website can be found at inventingheron.com.
“Inventing Heron is an innovative approach to showcasing real people in real jobs,” said Karen Haberstroh, Lecturer in Brown’s School of Engineering. “It’s a relevant online tool to guide and mentor students in their career pursuits.”
Kuhn is the ideal STEM advocate. Before returning to graduate school at Brown, she worked as an engineer at Boeing, first on the C-17 Globemaster III and then in the Thermophysics group at the Satellite Development Center. She is currently working towards her Ph.D. in materials science.
Materials science is a relatively new field, encompassing engineering, chemistry, biology, math, and physics. It is the study and optimization of materials at their atomic level, for a specific application. Kuhn investigates the temperature dependent conduction mechanisms of NaKNbO3 (NKN), or sodium potassium niobate, in its different crystallographic orientations and was originally interested in the field because a lot of sustainable energy research happens under the umbrella of materials science. NKN is a promising lead-free alternative to lead zirconate titanate, the most prevalent piezoelectric system. Her advisor is Professor Angus Kingon.
WEST’s ninth annual Giving Back Awards ceremony recognizes role models who balance work and personal responsibilities while making a difference in their community, specifically to support the career advancement of women in science and technology.