MEET the Women of SciGirls

Do you ever wonder who the women are that work somewhere? Do you try picturing what their day looks like? And then wonder, what are their challenges? What motivates them to work in STEAM fields? What are they eating? Just who are they? We do. “The Women of SciGirls” launches a series that puts a little frame around some women that work at the same place. If you would like a “Women of” piece about your organization or women you have mentored, let us know

In “The Women of SciGirls” we asked our Geek Puff Girlfriend, Cindy Gilbert, about the teens she mentored for an episode of the SciGirls show. We put together a questionnaire for the girls and Cindy to see what they do and what they plan next.

Here’s what Cindy found out for us:

I met Elin and Carolyn in 2011 when I had the honor and pleasure of mentoring this team of budding scientists through a biomimicry investigation for the PBS show SciGirls. The girls examined the question, “how does nature prevent slipping?” These amazing 14-year old girls looked at all types of animal feet and modes of locomotion used in nature to discover the best methods to grip onto slippery surfaces – from grizzly bear paws to tree frog’s feet. The girls prototyped a few anti-slip boot covers to prevent people from falling on icy surfaces in Minnesotan winters and tested their designs at a local ice rink. It was a lot of fun; we all loved working and thinking at the intersection of art and science: design.

~Cindy Gilbert

And here are their answers to our survey:

NAME. Elin Miller.

MOBILE? Android.

SOCIAL? Facebook.



FAVORITE BOOK OR GAME? I love the book The Bone People by Keri Hulme.

STEAM IN YOUR FUTURE? I intend to pursue graphic design as a career, supplemented with a practice in the fine arts, and informed by my strong background in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. I love the visual arts, and my own approach to making art often incorporates the use of linear and nonlinear systems that draw from scientific practices and ideas, albeit in a more abstract manner. I tend to be a ‘design geek’ in a lot of respects- I really enjoy the finer points and miniscule details of typography and letterform design- but I’m working really hard at allowing myself to be more spontaneous and organic in my work, too. It’s an important balance!



Elin Miller, CLIF Bar love.




Elin Miller, girl meets dog.


LOOK BACK. When Elin was on SciGirls…


Elin Miller, drawn.


FAVORITE WAY TO SPEND FREE TIME. I love to bike, see live music, make art, and explore museums and art galleries around Minneapolis.

SCI ADVICE. Never tell yourself you can’t do something! There’s enough criticism in the world without people being negative toward themselves. If you want something, go for it. With time and patience and practice, anything is possible! And if you change your mind about what you want to do, that’s okay too! Be forgiving of yourself; your needs and feelings are valid!
In short, pursue everything with passion and optimism, and success will follow.

NAME. Carolyn Kocken

MOBILE? Android

SOCIAL? Facebook



FAVORITE BOOK OR GAME? The Graceling series.

STEAM IN YOUR FUTURE? Yes, I plan on studying Paleontology and/or Science education at college.


cereal_Carolyn Kocken

Carolyn Kocken, cereal.



FB_Carolyn Kocken

Carolyn Kocken and friends.


LOOK BACK. When Carolyn was on SciGirls…


Carolyn Kocken on ice, SciGirls.



SCI ADVICE. People think that the field of science has no room for creativity, but as Albert Einstein said; “To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science.” If scientist didn’t have an imagination, we never would have invented planes or discovered the existence of dinosaurs. Just keep in mind if you do study the world around us through science, it doesn’t mean you have to give up your dream world.


NAME. Cindy Gilbert

MOBILE? iPhone

SOCIAL? Facebook



FAVORITE BOOK OR GAME? The Sea Around Us by Rachel Carson.

STEAM IN YOUR FUTURE? Yes, I plan to continue to bring people from across disciplines together to solve the planet’s most pressing problems through the Sustainable Design program that I direct at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD).



Missouri River #336, photo by Ronni Flannery.



Missouri River #338, photo by Ronni Flannery.


LOOK BACK. Cindy during the SciGirls show…


Cindy Gilbert, photo by Geoff Gilbert.


WHAT IS YOUR FAVORITE THING TO DO IN YOUR FREE TIME? This time of year, sailing! (Summer.)

SCI ADVICE? Stay curious; always ask, “why?”

Cindy Gilbert (MS / Oregon State University; MEd / Griffith University, Australia) is the founding director of the Sustainable Design program – a fully online, multidisciplinary graduate program- at the Minneapolis College of Art and Design (MCAD). In this role, she fosters a culture of awareness and creativity through sustainable, innovative and collaborative design. Cindy has extensive research experience in the fields of seabird and polar ecology, and she has taught several courses and workshops in the fields of biology, sustainability and biomimicry. Most recently, she served for nearly four years as the founding director of university education at the Biomimicry Institute where she developed and managed all higher education programs, including the biomimicry professional certification program, annual biomimicry education summits, biomimicry affiliate and fellows programs, and biomimicry design challenges. Cindy is based in Missoula, Montana.

You can watch the Mother Nature’s Shoes episode that was aired in 2012 as part of the 2nd season of SciGirls to see their entire journey of discovery.

Have you mentored young women that we should profile? Do you know a great team of women working together? Let us know about them! Or contact Toni(at)geekpuff(dot)com.

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