International STEM

The Ewha-Luce International Seminar, ELIS, was first founded by the Henry Luce Foundation with Ewha Woman’s University in 2014 to support and encourage female graduate students in science, technology, engineering, and mathematic disciplines in the US and Asia. ELIS just completed its 5th year of the program in July 2019. UNC Chemistry students and Clare Boothe Luce Fellows, Jill Williamson and Tiffany Crawford, participated in the 18-day leadership seminar hosted by Ewha Woman’s University in Seoul, South Korea. The seminar was designed to communicate across cultures, empower female leadership, and share interesting research conducted around the world.

As Clare Boothe Luce fellows, Jill and Tiffany were invited to attend the ELIS program as two of the 27 total participants in the annual seminar. The 27 participants included 12 American graduate students, some also Clare Boothe Luce fellows and some nominated to attend by fellows, and 15 Asian graduate students from China, Japan, Sri Lanka, and Korea. While 18 days is a long time away from research, each participant felt it was important to attend ELIS to expand their horizons and cultivate leadership skills.

There were three keynote addresses throughout the seminar, President Maria Klawe, Dr. Yikweon Jang, and Dr. Woon Seung Yeo. President Maria Klawe of Harvey Mudd College spoke at the opening ceremony about women supporting other women pursuing STEM degrees. Some highlights of her talk included how to increase the numbers of female faculty by 1) educating search committees on best practices for recruiting a diverse pool of candidates, 2) spousal hiring programs, 3) maternity leave, 4) parent-friendly department cultures, and 5) access to child-care. Jill was selected as a representative of ELIS to speak at the opening ceremony on her thoughts on encouraging more women into STEM disciplines pictured on a blue background here.

As the invited science lecturer, Dr. Yikweon Jang spoke at ELIS about his work on citizen science with the Earth Love Explorers program. Tiffany had the opportunity to interview him, where he elaborated on how citizen science has the power to both improve data collection for large research projects as well as to inspire non-scientists to become involved in research that has an effect on the quality of life in their community. He recently attended the citizen science 2019 conference in Raleigh, NC and greatly encourages others to see if this route could be applicable to their research.

The largest component, which many days of the seminar are spent preparing for, is the Science Talk Concert, which begins with a plenary speaker. In 2019, Dr. Woon Seung Yeo presented as the first lecturer within the concert on his research regarding artificial intelligence for visualization of music. Then, the participants each presented work under the following topics: "Women Leadership in STEM," "Nature & Science," "Science, Technology, & Society," and "Science Unlocking the Future," in a TED talk-style format. Tiffany was featured in the women’s leadership symposia presenting on Dr. Ada Yonath’s work studying the ribosome, pictured on the spotted background. Jill presented within "Nature & Science" on upcycling plastic waste as an alternative fate for commodity plastics. The concert developed presentation skills and effective communication strategies to reduce the high-level science down to basic concepts any non-scientist could understand.

Another focus of the conference was understanding Korean culture. Jill and Tiffany learned how to write their names in traditional Korean calligraphy, basic tae kwon do, how to play traditional Korean instruments, Jill is pictured with a drum, and the history of Korea. The participants took excursion trips from Seoul to visit the demilitarized zone between North and South Korea. It became apparent to the foreign participants how the divide between North and South Korea separated families, isolated the southern nation from land-based travel, and tested their economy. ELIS also taught the participants about ongoing efforts toward unification of Korea.


Haenyeo Diver

Haenyeo, literally "sea women" in Korean, are female divers in the Korean province of Jeju. Known for their independent spirit, iron will and determination, the haenyeo are representative of the semi-matriarchal family structure of Jeju.

As the capstone of the seminar, the participants were flown to Jeju to enjoy a different side of Korea. Jeju is known for female leadership in its haenyeo, traditional women divers who have been inscribed onto the UNESCO list of intangible cultural heritage of humanity. They represent the strong spirit and character of Jeju island through their strenuous work diving up to 10m deep to harvest seafood without oxygen masks, typically working for up to 7 hours a day 90 days a year.

Jill and Tiffany encourage others to participate in the next Ewha-Luce International Seminar! Jill is serving as the ELIS 2019 liaison to provide feedback on designing future programs. Please feel free to ask Jill or Tiffany about their adventures in Korea with this leadership seminar. For more details and information, please follow this link.