Passion, even for science, is Contagious

March 24th. Ada Lovelace Day. Their Web site is down and the blogosphere is filled with posts about incredible women. It was hard for me to pick a woman in tech who inspires me. Not for lack of women, but for risk of forgetting about something that someone had done which truly inspired me.

I am grateful to the efforts of Angie "webchick" Byron for encouraging everyone to participate in Drupal. To Kirrily "Skud" Robert for putting herself in the line on fire on so many issues that many wanted to see swept under the run. To Brenda Wallace for putting together GeekSpeakr -- a directory of women technology speakers. To Sharrow for putting together Haecksen, Natasha for co-presenting DrupalSouth, Selena Deckelmann (and many others) for Open Source Bridge. To Sarah Sharp for USB3 and Rikki Kite for Linux Pro Magazine and Ubuntu User. To Amber Graner and Maria Webster and Mel Chua and Valerie Aurora and Leslie Hawthorn and Leigh Honeywell and Liz Henry and Lorna Jane Mitchell and Cat Allman all the other women that have encouraged me to participate in technology with both hands and all heart. In the open source world I am constantly surrounded by inspiring women and I am grateful for the energy these women bring. It is infectious.

But I'm going to step outside of this list for the source of my inspiration. A very long time ago I went to a session on the local fisheries that was held a few towns over. My memory isn't perfect but there are bits that I remember very clearly. I remember two people wearing pinafores. They were from a human rights organization and were at the event as "observers." There was an incredible tension at the time between the Ojibway (local First Nations community), the sport fishermen and the commercial fishermen. I don't remember all of the speakers that day, but I remember one in particular, Ann Zimmerman.

Dr. Zimmerman was (and still is) a research biologist at the University of Toronto. She spoke at the event in plain English about how ecosystems work. She was articulate, she was passionate and she made me want to study science. I visited her office while I was still in high school to find out what it would take to get her as one of my professors in university. (Her lab tech thought I was a bit insane with the over planning. He was probably right.) I remember walking along the hall of the Zoology building where I would later take classes and I remember being excited about science. The final tally of my school credits for my Bachelor of Science in Science and the Environment was authorized by Dr. Zimmerman. I don't think I ever took one of her classes, but Ann was present throughout my entire undergraduate career. The summer jobs I took building Web pages for ecology professors led me away from what originally brought me to the university, but Ann's passion for sharing her science with others remains with me.

Thanks for making science cool, Ann. And thanks for sharing your passion with me. It was, and still is, contagious.

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