Friday, July 27, 2012

Tribute to Sally Ride, pioneer for women in science

Sally Ride has passed on to a better place. She has left behind a story, a legacy and the shadow of a woman who led the way in the crusade for women in science. Her achievements spoke for themselves.

She did not want to be known as the first female astronaut. She wanted to be known as someone who could get the job done. And I think that should be the goal of all women in science: to get the job done.

I met Sally Ride about ten years ago when the local Association for Women in Science (AWIS) chapter took a group of women up to UCLA for their Sally Ride Science Day. Ride owned a foundation that held outreach events periodically. We were lucky enough to attend one within driving distance in Los Angeles. Ride autographed my nametag and I chatted with her briefly. She gave a 1-2 hour presentation on her trip in space and on space science in general. Local schools, nonprofits and other organizations were invited to hold outreach booths at the event. Our chapter had a booth with some kind of science related to gummy worms. Although I cannot remember what we were demonstrating I remember our table was swarmed with junior high age girls.

Science marches on with the contributions and achievements of Sally Ride on its back. We can only hope the march recruits more of those like Sally Ride: those with drive to achieve, stamina to persevere and resolve to get the job done. Goodbye Sally!

The photos are a display of my Sally Ride “bling.” I proudly display this in my room currently.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

eggplant for dinner - garnering interest in fruit phenolic constituents

Tonight I added an eggplant to our chili just to see if my husband would say anything. Eggplant holds a position of some importance in the menu choices at our house as it is a staple of the Mediterranean diet. When we go out (or order out) for Persian food we usually include an order for some eggplant stew (with or without the veal in it). During Lent this is my husband's favorite meal- vegetarian eggplant stew from our favorite Persian restaurant.

I looked up the nutrition information about eggplant on the Internet and found this:

Eggplant is:
  • Low in Saturated Fat, Sodium, and Cholesterol
  • High in Dietary Fiber, Folate, Potassium, Manganese, Vitamin C, Vitamin K, Thiamin, Niacin, Vitamin B6, Pantothenic Acid, Magnesium, Phosphorus and Copper
The nutritional value and health benefits of eggplant makes it ideal for:
  • Maintaining optimum health
  • Weight loss
Don't include too many eggplants in your diet if you're interested in:
  • Weight gain
 Since I am currently still losing pregnancy pounds this piqued my attention. Is there any chemical in particular that makes eggplant good for weight loss? I'm really interested.

Here is a quotation from the chemical literature about eggplant:

"Eggplant (Solanum melongena L.), fruit commonly known as
aubergine, melanzana, garden egg, brinjal, or patlican is ranked
amongst the top ten vegetables in terms of oxygen radical absorbance
capacity due to the fruit phenolic constituents (Cao, Sofic,
& Prior, 1996). The colour, size, and shape of the eggplant fruit vary
significantly with the type of the eggplant cultivar, and its fruit is
commonly cooked as a vegetable in many parts of the world. The
cultivated eggplant has significant economic importance in many
tropical and subtropical parts of the world. In the United States,
the consumption of eggplant is increasing due to growth in ethnic
diversity and greater awareness of the health beneficial effects
associated with increased consumption of fruits and vegetables."

(Polyphenols content and antioxidant capacity of eggplant pulp, Food Chemistry,
Ajay P. Singh, 2008)