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February 4, 2014

Emma Ideal (Physics) is co-editor of a recently-published book, Blazing the Trail: Essays by Leading Women in Science. In it, 35 highly successful physicists, engineers, and chemists share their personal histories, their passion for discovery, and their secrets for success. Essayists, including Yale faculty Meg Urry and Sarah Demers, candidly recount their experiences – both positive and negative – focusing on lessons learned along the way. Contributors are primarily physicists, working in a variety of settings, including university labs, national labs, and industry. The co-editor is Rhiannon Meharchand, a post doctoral fellow at Los Alamos whom she met at the fourth International Conference on Women in Physics in 2011.

The gross under-representation of women in physics is well-known both inside and outside of the physics community,” Emma says. “This book was created to inspire a new generation of young women to consider scientific careers, attacking the problem of under-representation at its root.

Readers will have a look into what a physicist’s life is really like, see that science is fundamentally about curiosity and asking (and finding answers to!) hard questions, and discover how attainable success is with the right attitude and work ethic,” says Emma. “In addition, many young women can feel isolated in the career and gender challenges they face, and my hope is that from reading the essays, they see that, in fact, they are not alone!”

Emma studies particle physics and the Higgs Boson in Demers’ lab, and is participating in the ATLAS experiment in Switzerland, one of the great undertakings in contemporary physics. Her research is focused on a specific decay category, the “di-tau channel,” that can be distinguished from the background noise of other elementary particles.

At Yale, in addition to her academic pursuits, she mentors an undergraduate in association with the Women in Science at Yale (WISAY) organization, and she has worked towards increasing the number of under-represented minorities at Yale by helping organize recruiting events at the 2013 SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) and the 2011 NSBP/NSHP (National Society of Black Physicists/National Society of Hispanic Physicists) conferences. In her spare time, she enjoys developing her French language skills.

Emma grew up in Moorpark, California, and earned her undergraduate degree in physics from UCLA.