Putting Scientists on a Pedestal
A life-size 3D-printed statue of Miriam Fuchs '13 became part of #IfThenSheCan-The Exhibit.
Being immortalized in the form of a statue has historically been reserved for men, particularly dead generals or politicians. But Miriam Fuchs ’13 made a very different kind of history when a life-size 3D-printed statue of her became part of #IfThenSheCan-The Exhibit. Billed as the largest collection of statues of women ever assembled, the 120 plastic figures depict a diverse group of contemporary women STEM innovators working in a variety of fields, from protecting wildlife to discovering galaxies to trying to cure cancer.
Fuchs herself is an astronomer and telescope systems specialist for the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope atop the 14,000-foot summit of Mauna Kea in Hawaii, where she is responsible for obtaining observational data for scientists interested in learning more about how stars and planets form.
While her statue debuted as part of a small preview exhibit at Dallas Love Field that ran through May of last year, the full lineup of 120 figures was installed on and around the National Mall in Washington, D.C., throughout March. Hosted by the Smithsonian, the exhibit was part of a month-long Women’s Futures Festival.
That statue collection is part of a larger IF/ THEN Initiative, a national effort sponsored by Lyda Hill Philanthropies to inspire girls to pursue STEM careers and help shift how the world perceives women in STEM. All of the scientists selected for the initiative are charged with serving as high-profile role models for girls.
In the personal statement she wrote for the exhibit, Fuchs discloses that she dreamed of becoming an astrophysicist as a child, but got sidetracked in high school, believing she was too outgoing and creative to enter a STEM field. Fortunately, her time at Haverford changed her mind. “I feel lucky that a mentor in college encouraged me to follow my childhood dream and invited me to her astronomy research lab, where I learned that collaboration is crucial to success and that programming was a language like any other that allowed me to express myself and solve problems that far exceeded answers found with pencil and paper. I realized my skill set might match up better than I thought.”