September's "Energy" STEM Star: Sheril Kirshenbaum


The month of September is in full swing! You know what that means! It is time to introduce this month's STEM Star!
Our theme for September is Energy! Energy is used in our everyday lives in order to survive, but did you know that energy comes in different forms? There is thermal energy, kinetic energy, chemical energy, nuclear energy, etc. 
Our STEM Star for the month of September is Sheril Kirshenbaum! Sheril is the executive director at Science Debate, the host of "Our Table" at Michigan Stat, and the director of the University of Texas at Austin Energy Poll. 
Sheril got her undergraduate degree on Biology and Classical Studies from Tufts University, and later went on to get her Masters in Marine Biology and Policy from The University of Maine. 
But don't let us tell you about her, why not hear it from our July STEM Star herself! 
1. How did you originally get interested in science?
I've always been interested in science, but I didn't necessarily recognize it. We're all born naturally curious about the world - I've yet to meet a 7 year old who isn't fascinated by space and dinosaurs and oceans. We just don't always call it "science."
2. What is your typical day like in your job?
For me every day is different. Sometimes I'm writing articles for general audiences about why science is so important in policy making. Others I may visit a museum or university to talk about energy, women in science or climate change. I keep a foot in academia and work at the intersection of science, politics and people.
3. What inspired you to write books about science?
I began blogging in 2006 back before blogging was 'cool.' (Has it ever been cool?) It was a great way as a scientist to interact with the public about why science matters. Blogging taught me how to be a better writer and eventually I began writing articles in magazines and newspapers. My co-blogger, Chris Mooney, is a gifted journalist and author and the ideas we turned over online at ScienceBlogs and Discover magazine eventually become the topics explored in our first book, Unscientific America: How Scientific Illiteracy Threatens Our Future.
4. What about the filed of energy really interests you?
Energy is inherently related to every significant challenge of the 21st century from climate change to how we will feed 9 billion people by 2050. It shapes the way we live and our collective impact on Earth. It's impossible not to be interested in energy.
5. What is one of your favorite projects you have worked on related to energy?
A few years ago, I was involved in a project called Energy at the Movies with Michael Webber, a fantastic professor and engineer at UT Austin. Using films from How Green Was My Valley and Giant to WallE and Syriana, we taped a live event to educate audiences about energy over the past century. The event premiered nationally on PBS and was an engaging way to explore an often complex topic.
6. What new energy innovations excite you?
Renewables like solar and wind energy have had a tremendous impact on the U.S. energy budget since I began working in the field and are changing the international energy landscape. It's been fun to watch and I'm excited about where we're headed.
7. What advice do you have for kids interested in energy, or science and engineering in general? 
When I was in graduate school in marine biology (which wasn't so very long ago), the "job" I have didn't exist. Science--and the way we communicate about it--is always changing and it's very important to explore the opportunities that excite you and stay adaptable as new technologies emerge. It's sounds cliche, but follow your passion and make sure you love what you work on. There's not one path to success in science (or an anything for that matter).
To learn more about Sheril and her love for science go to her website
You can also find her on Twitter and Facebook!

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