Spotlight: Estella Atekwana

Oklahoma State University

Estella Atekwana grew up in Cameroon. “My parents very much wanted me to do medicine,” she writes. “So I got into sciences with that intention. However, I took a course in geology in high school and the teacher indicated that geology was not for girls. I was challenged then to demonstrate that girls could do geology and perform the same as boys or even better. I ended up with the science award that year in chemistry, biology, and geology.” She moved to North America to study the geosciences, earning a bachelor’s and master’s in geology from Howard University and a Ph.D. from Dalhousie University in Canada. “Today, they call me Doctor and that’s fine with my parents.”

She is now Sun Chair at Oklahoma State University, where she is a leader in the new field of biogeophysics.

The Microbes Below

June 13, 2006

To study underground bacteria, scientists have been pretty much just digging holes. Until now.