A local woman is heading to a national conference dedicated to bringing diversity into the STEM Field.
Sofía Edgar will be attending SACNAS’ National Diversity in STEM Conference this fall to present her computational work on nanocrystals. The conference is the largest multidisciplinary and multicultural STEM diversity event in the country.
"We basically shoot x-rays through crystals and observe what that looks like," Edgar explained. "Looking at sodium-ion batteries which are a replacement to lithium-ion batteries commonly used in phones, laptops so to find a cheaper alternative would be a useful step toward renewable energy."
Long before Edgar started working with nanocrystals, there were robots and penguins. Edgar's love of building began with the Chickadees, an all-girl-funded robotics team she was part of in high school. Then her journey took her to Antarctica, where she helped build a weather station down there.
She says it's these experiences that ignited her passion for a career in STEM.
"I got to do research down there for four days. That was... that was thrilling," Edgar remembered. "I got this high of wanting to build things and take the data and understand how it works. That really solidified that I wanted to do something in STEM."
For Edgar, this conference is not only a chance to represent her research but also the Hispanic and LatinX community.
"I really learned the value of struggling through something and turning around and helping people who are also struggling," Edgar said. "I think it's a really good way to build this pipeline of women in stem and LatinX people in STEM."
According to data from PEW, the Hispanic and LatinX community is underrepresented in STEM jobs--as a matter of fact they only represent about 8% of the STEM workforce. In engineering fields, like the one Edgar is in, women are underrepresented as well: making up only 15% of the workforce.
Though she acknowledges there needs to be more diversity and representation in the STEM community, she says the community as a whole--especially between women--is supportive. She remembers that support tracing back even to her high school robotics days.
"We really supported one another and that's really helpful, even if it is predominately male."
Edgar also works with youth, especially those in the Hispanic and LatinX community, to help them prepare for careers in STEM fields.