Women in STEM Podcast

LNP'S Women in STEM Podcast Features Skyscraper's Melina Blees

Our very own Creativity Director, Melina Blees, recently appeared on the Women in STEM podcast with host Kara Newhouse.

She discusses her experiences as a scientist, artist, and lifelong student of curiosity. An unconventional (in retrospect) and very special childhood gave her the confidence to take the road less traveled. This particular road led to a PhD in Physics from Cornell University, pursued in tandem with classes in printmaking and an interest in paper arts that informed her work in nanotechnology.

“I have photos of myself at age two-and-a-half using a rotary sander. [My father] always had me with him in the garage when he was fixing the car. I mean, I don’t remember how to fix a car, but he included me—and to a be a little girl in the 80s and early 90s getting to be around tools, and think that’s it's for you, that’s unusual and very important. It led me less afraid to use million-dollar photolithography tools further down the line!”

For Melina, the skills that lead to great art and great science overlap. And these are skills that can be learned—inherit genius be damned.

“[Art and science are framed] as being completely separate skills, when in fact there’s a huge amount of skill overlap. I was aways surprised that [when] talking to artists and talking to scientists, a lot of times the language is different but they’re talking about the same things. They’re taking about problem solving. They’re talking about how to push boundaries. They’re talking about, really, what creativity is. How do you get a solution to a complex problem that you don’t know the answer to and maybe nobody knows the answer to? That’s a whole field of study in itself, but it's something that artists are wrestling with a scientists are wrestling with. And if you get them talking to each other, you get some really interesting conversations.”

The conversation is equal parts insightful and passionate—and consistently charming. A bit like Melina herself.

But don’t take our word for it. Follow the link or have a listen below! And see video footage of graphene kirigami in action from Nature Video.

—Shani Tucker

Banner Photo Credit: Richard Hertzler, Staff Photgrapher, LNP