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Elizabeth Blackburn - Nobel Prize Winner, Scientist, and Mother

Microbiologist Mom Managed Work Life Balance With "Science Mind"

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Elizabeth Blackburn - Nobel Prize Winner, Scientist, and Mother

Photo courtesy L'ORÉAL

For Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, having a fulfilling career in science while raising a family wasn't impossible, but it was hard work. Dr. Blackburn, a world-renowned research scientist in the field of molecular biology, was the 2009 recipient of the Nobel prize in medicine. Born and raised in Australia, she grew up in a household where both parents were equally serious about their professional careers -- an environment that encouraged her to pursue her love of science without worrying her gender would be a detriment.

She's as dedicated to her responsibilities as scientist and teacher as she is to her commitments as wife and mother. In fact, she takes motherhood very seriously and has written about the right of every woman to choose a career without fear of discrimination for embracing motherhood.

For Dr. Blackburn, it's not a matter of black-and-white either/or decision-making, but a gradual recognition of the cyclical nature of work and family and a redistribution of time between the two over the course of a professional life. And the best affirmation of her success in achieving work/home balance is a moment in time she refers to as the most memorable week of her life when at age 37 she became a full professor at UC Berkeley at the same time she learned she was pregnant.

A Conversation With Dr. Blackburn

Dr. Blackburn sat down for a phone interview with me in July 2008 to share her thoughts on the math and science gender divide, the need for our society to nurture and support teachers, the family/career juggling act, and the best ways to encourage and inspire girls and young women to consider science as a field of study and then later as a profession. Select excerpts are below:

For the full interview originally published in July 2008, see:

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