Unique Scientist: Dr. Anne A. Madden

Time to meet Dr. Anne A. Madden (She/her)! Dr. Madden is a microbiologist, an entrepreneur, and public engagement practitioner in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a microbiologist with a mission to reveal the utility of the microbial world. I do this by working across disciplines and straddling academic and industry boundaries. Broadly, I am a research scientist, entrepreneur, and public engagement practitioner.

What made you want to become a scientist?
When I was young (~10) I was suffering from severe agitated depression with a phobia of school (really!) At the same time my parents were going through a painful divorce. Everything in my life that caused pain was complicated and seemed to have no logic behind it. Eventually, in high school I was in an anatomy class and I learned that complex movements: dance, speaking, smiling, were all the result of a simple logical framework: muscles pull on bones, and bones don’t move. This gave me hope that through science we can learn to predict the unpredictable, to solve the complicated, and to find hope where we often feel powerless.

“As a privileged white cis-hetero white woman who dyes her hair blonde, I’m here to be the best ally I can, rather than to compete for air space.”

Dr. Anne A. Madden

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
As a privileged white cis-hetero white woman who dyes her hair blonde, I’m here to be the best ally I can, rather than to compete for air space. I may be considered unique because I’m a woman, or because I’ve suffered through a childhood of mental illnesses that were epic by the 90’s standards. I may be considered unique because I dress in high stilettos, or that I feel comfortable pitching the importance of science to business tycoons and artists. I may be unique because I don’t fit one conventional path as a scientist. Or it may be that none of these make me unique, we just don’t always share these parts of ourselves.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I love adventures, travel, and trying new things. As such I ride a motorcycle, I have flown a glider, blown glass, gone falconing, rock climbing, thrown axes, spearfishing for lionfish, zip lined, eaten camel, skydived, been a certified archer, and kayaked anywhere the ocean will let me.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
To create a system where collaboration, collegiality, and merit was honored and rewarded above competition, poor ethics, and institutional privilege.

“Or it may be that none of these make me unique, we just don’t always share these parts of ourselves.”

Dr. Anne A. Madden

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I am thankful for the strong faculty role models I had at Wellesley College. Besides that, I am continually inspired by some of my peers who remind me every day to be a kinder, stronger, more ambitious, more ethical version of myself.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I’m completing an exhibition with an artist that will use art and a layer of augmented reality to create an immersive experience for audiences to learn about some of the exciting microbes that live around us. It will debut in October in NYC.


#WomenInSTEM

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