Spreading a Passion for Science

Yale Professor Ainissa Ramirez compares properties of metals to those of different kinds of cakes as part of Science Saturdays. Photo courtesy of Mike Marsland, Yale University Photographer, and Ainissa Ramirez, Department of Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.

Ainissa Ramirez, Associate Professor of Mechanical Engineering, has recently been appointed to the 2nd annual USA Science and Engineering Festival’s Nifty Fifty (times 2) team. Ramirez will travel to urban D.C. schools to speak to students about her research on shape memory alloys, their potential use in micromachines, and the importance of science itself. She hopes that by demonstrating how a distorted piece of nickel titanium can “remember” and return to its original structure upon heating, students will think, “[Science] can’t be boring; just look at this wire!”

Throughout her career, Ramirez has been heavily involved in the promotion of science, especially among girls and minorities. In 2004, she founded Science Saturdays, a fun science lecture program for children. Experts in all fields of science share their research with middle school students and prepare lecture topics, such as Genetic Anthropology: Finding Human History in Spit. Ramirez explains that the program “keep[s] people inspired about science,” and its popularity continues to impress: “If it’s dinosaurs, it’s standing room only!”

Ramirez believes, “We should lather people with many opportunities for science outreach.” As such, she has also started a new YouTube series called Material Marvels. Now in her final year at Yale, Ramirez is gearing up for a new career as a science popularizer and will work full time to take programs such as Science Saturdays and Material Marvels to the national, and even the global level. For more information, please visit: and