CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — March 14 is Pi Day, named after the infinite mathematical term with 3.14 as its first digits.
Also on March 14, people across the country wear purple to support women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) professions.
Katherine Crysup teaches anatomy and physiology at Gregory-Portland High School.
“I’ve always loved science,” Crysup said. “I’ve been working in STEM for, I guess basically my entire life, or have had some kind of science field.”
Crysup was inspired to get into the field by her parents; her father was a civil engineer, her mother was a math teacher.
“They always told me, ‘do what you enjoy, and we want you to have more opportunities than we ever had,’” she said.
Dr. Feri Billiot is a professor of chemistry at Texas A&M Corpus Christi.
“I’ve been here since 2000,” Billiot said, “22 years.”
Billiot was inspired by a former teacher of hers.
“The way he was teaching chemistry, it really inspired me to be a chemist,” she said.
Both women are inspiring the next generation of scientists.
“I enjoy teaching and exploring with kids, with students, and letting them explore what they like to do, and what they find strengths in,” Crysup said. “Helping them find not only that science can be fun, that it can also be really rewarding, and a whole lifetime of learning.”
Crysup has a lot of young women in her classes that want to enter a science field when they grow up. Some of them even have women in their lives who inspired them.
“I want to be a pediatric cardiologist, and I’ve always wanted to do cardiology,” said G-P junior Aleena Roy. “My mom is a big inspiration for that, she was a nurse and now she’s trying to get her Master’s Degree. So, seeing her grow, and try to evolve, made me want to grow and get better, so I’m aiming pretty high.”
“I’ve known from an early age that I wanted to go into STEM, both my parents got their undergrads in chemical engineering, so I’ve been surrounded by go out, do math, do science, get involved, and that’s always inspired me,” said fellow junior Elisabeth Miller.
Billiot said she has seen an increase in women in chemistry since she started teaching in 2000.
“I do see more females at the undergraduate level, we do have a lot of undergraduate students who are female, also at Master’s level I see a lot of them,” she said. “But I think we still need to work on PhD, we need more females at the PhD level in chemistry.”
Billiot also said she has seen an encouraging increase in female students taking on research roles at the university.
“I know every time I announced in my classes I expect new positions open in my research lab, a lot of female students come talk to me,” Billiot said.