December 9, 2013

Tis the season to bake with Lillian Gilbreth

Lillian Gilbreth



Dates: May 24, 1878 to January 2, 1972

Field of study: Ergonomics, industrial/organizational psychologist

Invention: Kitchen design, electric food mixer, shelves in refrigerator, trash can with foot-pedal lid-opener

I spend a lot of time in my kitchen this time of the year, but I never give much thought to it. We’ll that’s not exactly true, I think about buying new appliances but not the layout how it came to be, why and who decided it should be this way. Today I’m sharing with you Lillian Gilbreth, the Mother of Modern Management and the woman behind our kitchens. In the 1920’s she was a pioneer in making domestic work a field of study. One of her greatest accomplishments was cutting the number of footsteps in the kitchen from 281 to 45! Two of her twelve children, co-authored a book about their home growing-up maybe you’ve heard of it “Cheaper by the Dozen.”

Lillian Gilbreth was born and raised in Oakland, California into a large wealthy family in 1878. Her parents believed in education for their daughters up to secondary school after that it was expected that they would marry. However Lillian didn’t have her parents’ confidence that someone would marry her, so she decided to become a teacher.  She studied at University of California Berkeley where she graduated with a Bachelors of Arts in literature. After graduation she moved to New York where she attended Columbia University for a year before returning home to finish her Master of Arts at University of California Berkeley.  She completed her Ph.D in psychology from Brown University in 1915. She met her husband Frank Gilbreth before she left on summer vacation to Europe.

By utilizing new techniques and working with their family Frank and Lillian Gilbreth created a new field of science called ergonomics and industrial psychology. Today the International Ergonomics Association defines it as “the scientific discipline concerned with the understanding of interactions among humans and other elements of a system, and the profession that applies theory, principles, data and methods to design in order to optimize human well-being and overall system performance.” But back then there was no definition or defined field, instead Lillian and Frank pioneered their field through trial, error and demonstrating the benefits. Lillian was introduced to the idea of finding “the best way” to do things by Frank who had begun his studies years before. It was also Frank’s encouragement which caused Lillian to change her major from English to psychology. In their partnership, Lillian was the advocate and promoted the human side of the worker while Frank was the technical side.  In their consulting firm, they were the first to use short films to watch how industrial processes and office tasks were done, breaking them down into components parts.  The Gilbreth’s  worked from home conducting trainings for managers and develop practices with the aid of their children. Frank and Lillian consulted for industry, lectured and wrote for national publications and published 5 books on organizational management, none of which bore Lillian’s name.

frank and lillian from purdue university engineeringAfter Frank’s unexpected death in 1924, Lillian was forced to reinvent herself.  She took a visiting lecturer position at Purdue University and several years later was given a faculty position in the home economics department, which is ironic because she wasn’t a cook. The home economics department allowed her the opportunity to create a new niche for herself where she could apply the technical skills she learned from Frank and her humanist approach to improving the lives of women.  She consulted for Macys and General Electric, wrote several articles for national publications, guest lectured, conducted training session out of her home and patented several household appliances.

After reviewing all of Lillian’s contributions I find her contributions to the home to be the most revolutionary. Lillian patented several home appliances and designed the contemporary kitchen. After an in depth investigation into the amount of walking that a woman does in the kitchen Lillian redesigned it to create a tight circuit where the cook wouldn’t need to move their feet as frequently. Lillian’s concept was that “In an efficiently planned kitchen, the perimeter of the triangle formed by stove, sink, and refrigerator should be no greater than 26 feet, with a typical distance of 5.5 feet between appliances.”(Slate) This design was and still is called the L, C, or U Shape arrangement. She also designed a kitchen for handicapped people. She patented the electric food mixer, shelves in the refrigerator and the foot-pedal lid-opened trash can.

Lillian Gilbreth was an accomplished woman by any standards and her accomplishments are still relevant today. She was the first person to show industry management the importance of direct and indirect incentives to motivate employees, something that I think we are all grateful for, by studying the psychology of workers at work.  She was also able to identify how detrimental the effects of fatigue and stress are on time management.  By combining the technical knowledge she learned from her late husband, Frank, with her own understanding of the psychology of women, she did more than just the improve the kitchen, she advocated for the improvement of the lives of women and people with disabilities.

If you want to learn more about Lillian there are numerous options. There are several autobiographies and biographies about her

Local Input~ A model kitchen created by Lillian Gilbreth for optimum efficiency.

Local Input~ A model kitchen created by Lillian Gilbreth for optimum efficiency.

available. Plus there are several websites, which I have listed below each tells a slightly different story about her accomplishments. You should also check out the interview with Historian, Jane Lancaster over at The Lemelson Center for the study of Invention and Innovation. Also, I have listed a couple of website and a blog post about Lillian Gilbreth.



Bailey, Martha J. American Women in Science A Biographical Dictionary. Denver: ABC-CLIO, 1994. Print   132-133

There are number of books about Lillian Gilbreth and her work.


“The Woman Who Invented the Kitchen” Alexandra Lange


Grandma Got STEM

December 3, 2013

It’s a book giveaway!

And its my first book giveaway thanks to Dormaine G!

Last week Dormaine G told us about how she came to publish her book Connor and this week I’m sharing with you her holiday book giveaway for Connor. She is giving away five paperback copies and you could win a copy for yourself or feel the Christmas cheer and share it with a loved one.  To sign-up for the book giveaway just follow the link at the bottom of the post. Enjoy!

Cover for "Connor"


We heard Scott’s name announced by a man holding a microphone, so we made our way back to the commotion. The mention of his name made the crowd grow louder and become more hostile, if possible. Two guys were getting mobbed with bets; they could barely keep up.
Wanting to see him in action, we walked closer to the cage. If he was scared, he didn’t show it. He walked in, standing still unlike his opponent, who kept hopping
around, boxing and kicking the air.

The opponent was almost twice Scott’s size, so I don’t know how they matched the fighters. That and the fact he was a teen, even though he appeared older, and everyone else were adults. Then again, this is not legal fighting. Scott was maybe five ten with lean muscle, while this guy was at least six feet and stacked with muscles.

There was a referee in the middle, brave man, making them keep their distance until the bell rang. Once the referee stepped out the gate, it locked; a bell went off,
commencing the fight. I didn’t want to admit it, but something inside me secretly rooted for Scott. What’s wrong with me?

They walked around and around the cage until the opponent went for Scott, and that’s when things got ugly. Scott dodged his advance and punched him right in the nose, causing blood to spew into the air and onto the floor. The man went down. Scott waited patiently off to the side as he recovered.

Scott’s opponent got back up, shaking it off, danced around a bit, then swung at Scott, who grabbed his arm and punched him in the gut, causing the guy to crumble
to his knees to catch his breath. Once again, Scott politely stood to the side while his opponent recovered. I don’t think Scott broke a sweat yet.

The crowd was getting insanely rowdy that the bouncers—I had not even noticed before now—were trying to contain them.

His opponent managed to get back up, holding on to the cage for support. This time Scott charged first, causing his opponent to backpedal, then the opponent charged, and Scott backpedaled. It went on like that for a while until Scott kicked his opponent in the face, knocking him cross-eyed. The guy hit the ground, and Scott was on top of him, pounding his face in until all you saw was blood.

The poor man didn’t even stand a chance. I swore Scott was enjoying this way too much. A bell rang, and two referees came running in to pull Scott off the guy as he lay there limp. Both refs grabbed Scott and yanked him off the bloody guy, but not before Scott kicked his opponent in the face and spat on him.

The crowd was booing and cheering at the same time. It was a madhouse in here. Two more referees came in to carry the guy who was barely breathing out. His face was unrecognizable. Tony was right—he did go easy on me.

After the referees carried Scott’s opponent completely out, they announced him the winner, but instead of him taking it all in, he immediately left the gate, collected his winnings, and headed toward the exit. We ran after him, but after fighting through the crowd, we lost him outside. He was nowhere we could see.

We decided to search for him by car in case he cut through a path somewhere by foot. While cutting across the lot, two black SUVs with tinted windows blocked us, driving around and around in a circle until we stopped moving. We huddled together.

The vehicles stopped, but only one driver, a male, got out. “You may reveal yourselves now,” and said each of our names. He was a tall muscular man with a bald head, not from old age, but done purposely. He looked familiar to me, but I couldn’t place from where.

“Excuse me, my name is Shak, and I assure you that you will not be harmed unless absolutely necessary.” We did as ordered.

“Shak, as in one of the names on the folders, Shak. What do you want?” Tony asked.

“Better question, how could you see us? Who are you?” Cheyenne asked.

Ignoring both questions, Shak told us to get in either vehicle.

“No way, buddy, not on your life,” I said. “I’m not hopping into a car with a stranger.”

Tony grabbed my arm and said, “We know you. You’re….

Contest ends Wednesday, December 11, 2013. Enter now to win your free copy!


November 29, 2013

Meet Dormaine G author of “Connor”

Today I want to introduce Dormaine G a contemporary fantasy writer who has recently published her first book. Dormaine didn’t come to writing in the traditional way, nor did she choose to take a traditional way to publish her first book. It’s an impressive story that I’m exited to share with you.

A.H.: Tell me about yourself.Dormaine G.

D.G.: I was born in New York and lived there until I was eight then we moved to Mississippi.  Ten years later, I went to college at Xavier University in New Orleans, Louisiana for about two years then moved to Massachusetts for a new life experience.  Eventually, I moved back to New York where I became a registered nurse and studied forensic nursing.  After working some years in New York as a nurse, I started doing travel nursing and loved it.  I decided to stop traveling while in Colorado to stay close to family and shortly after, I met my wonderful husband and have been here ever since. Even as a child, I have always had a love for science fiction and enjoyed it through books, movies and comics.  I have dabbled in writing throughout the years, and decided it was time to let my true self free.  I took some time off from work to pursue a career in writing and recently published my first book Connor which will be a series. My goal is to be finished with the second book by the middle of 2014.

A.H.: What author has influenced your current style of writing?

D.G.: I have two that have influenced me, the late L. A. Banks and Kelley Armstrong. As a child, I have always loved science fiction but never really saw any characters, superheroes or actors that looked like me and that was somewhat upsetting. Even now, it has not really changed and I know there are more people out there, like me, who love science fiction.  Banks opened up my eyes to the fact that I am right, people of color can be special too and we can write about them. Armstrong’s style and comedy flare is so like me it is amazing and her sarcasm and making light of a serious situation hits home for me.

A.H.: What’s your take on being a women and minority in science fiction? What challenges have you faced? And how did you deal with them?

D.G.: That’s a hard question but I realized that only people of color, ranging from Filipino, Black and Hispanic, have reviewed my book. I know because I made connections with these people on author sites. Whenever I have submitted my book for review to a site, of nonspecific color, it never gets chosen. Yes, my book has only been out for seven weeks but still that is a bit noticeable. So far, I have had some wonderful reviews which make me feel better about myself. You can get very discouraged in this industry but I look to the reviews that I have received for support, believe in work, and stay determined to never give up.

A.H.: Where and when do you like to write?

D.G.: I write at my kitchen table by the television where I have a fiction movie or TV show on in the background, volume on low.

A.H.: Before you published your novel, did you publish any short fiction? If so where?

D.G.: I did not. I have had people read my stories before but never submitted anything for publication. I have been told in the past that I should submit but never did.

A.H.: Tell me about your current book, Connor?

D.G.: The book is about a fifteen year old girl named Connor who discovers she has abilities. There are five other teenagers like her and they are faced with danger and are forced to grow up fast in order to protect themselves from beings that want to harm them.  Unfortunately, everything does not work out with a happy picture book ending especially when everyone doesn’t want to face the truth. Lastly, we start to see the beginning of a possible dysfunctional love triangle.

A.H.: I know personally, that sometimes my original idea isn’t necessarily what the story turns out to be in the end. Did that happen for you with this book?

D.G.: I didn’t really have a plan other than I knew it was going to be a fictitious story about a female having certain abilities. I wrote what felt right and what made the most sense to me.  I never had a beginning or end planned. I just wanted certain aspects in the story and made them work to my satisfaction.

A.H.: Of all the characters in this book who is your favorite and why?

D.G.: Connor, of course, because she is sarcastic, already had a super power called denial and she is a Science Fiction geek like me.  She is not me or what I want to be but just a small fragment of my personality.

A.H.: Let’s talk about creating worlds because as fantasy writer that can make or break a story.  What’s your process for creating worlds? Do you have a book where you write it down or on a poster board?

D.G.: This book is not so much about another world, only characters from it, but the next one will be. It will take place in a fictitious world that I think about almost every day. I see the world in my mind, some of the characters there and what it feels and smells like. That is how I always wrote even when I was young and probably will continue to do so for the most part. With that being said, I have never created an altered universe before either. I have a feeling I will most definitely need to plot things out in a file for the next book.

A.H.: Who’s the publisher?

D.G.: I went through Xlibris self publishing company.

A.H.: Why did you choose to go with self-publishing?

D.G.: I chose to go with self publishing because, as a black female author writing about diverse characters, I knew it would not be readily accepted so instead of seeking approval I took a chance on myself.

A.H.: Where can people buy your book?

D.G.: I am on print with Xlibris publishing company, Amazon, Barnes and Nobles, Nook, Alibris, Powells, and Better World Books. You can walk into most book stores and order my book. My ebook is with Amazon Kindle, Nook, Kobo, Smashwords and Xlibris.

A.H.: Just for fun if you lived in a dystopian world, what would you hoard?

D.G.: Besides making sure my family including my dog is with me, I would take clothes, water, canned food, a lot of chocolate and three of my favorite books, ‘Connor’, ‘Bitten’ by Kelley Armstrong and ‘Kindred’ by Octavia Butler.

A.H.: Where can people learn more about you and your work?

Smashwords:  (Dormaine G)

Twitter:  (Dormaine G)


A YoungCover for "Connor" Adult Urban Fantasy story filled with lies, secrets, and betrayal. Don’t expect this to be your typical picture-book ending.

Connor Esquibel recently discovers she has the gift of invisibility among other gifts. She doesn’t realize how her life is about to change for the worse. She is 15, sarcastically funny, at least she thinks so, and doesn’t always like to face reality. She meets five other teenagers who have abilities similar to hers and they try to figure out how or why this is happening to them but not everyone is so excited about finding out the truth.

Connor, sensing their lives are in danger, is determined to figure out the truth by any means necessary. She is forced to grow up fast after she is slapped with the cold, hard, fact that the people around her are not who she thought they were and all human beings are not what they appear to be.

Through all of this, Connor and Tony, one other with abilities, start to develop feelings for each other causing jealousy in more ways than one. That is where Ronin comes in, he is beautiful, smart, and ruthless. He too has eyes for Connor but not in the way one may think.

November 24, 2013

Short Story Review: “Flash Bang Remember” by Tina Connolly and Caroline M Yoachim

Lightspeed Science Fiction and Fantasy, Issue 27, August 2012

Could you imagine having no memories of your own? I can’t but Girl 23 of “Flash Bang Remember” doesn’t have to imagine that is her destiny. Girl 23 is one of many young girls that grow up with the sole purpose of creating memories that will eventually be shared among the group of people who live on her spaceship. Unlike the other girls, Girl 23 doesn’t want to have her memories shared with the group instead she wants to keep them for herself. “Flash Bang Remember” doesn’t is an enjoyable science fiction story with romance, action, suspense, a strong female lead and likeable characters.

There is more to science than just the mechanics, there is the question of how will it affect humans and is it ethical. “Flash Bang Remember” asks the moral questions about cloning and memory transfer. Connolly and Yoachim don’t spend a lot of time talking about how to make a clone or even what the cloning room looks like, but they do spend a lot of time showing us how it affects our main character, Girl 23 and The Child. The most moving scene is at the end of the story when Girl 23 has to go back into the pod to have her memory rebooted. They don’t just say tell us it happens, they drag us through it every painful and terrifying step that Girl 23 feels. I appreciated that part the most because I don’t know if I couldn’t have imagined what they wrote.

Girl 23 is one of my favorite characters. It would have been very easy for her to become of my least favorite characters but instead she proves to be a cleaver, strong and determined young woman who is only searching for the same thing we all are – our identity. I think she is a role model for young women because she doesn’t seek out external acceptance and she is able to stay mentally strong and focused when others dismiss her. Also, her character doesn’t whine about her situation instead she sets out to do something about it even though she is aware of the Catch-22.

Overall, I highly recommend this story. Connolly and Yoachim propose an interesting question in this era of individualism glorification about what defines identity. Some say it is our memories that make us individual each person experiences things differently, but if we all have the same memory of how something feels and smells is there still individualism? The story also allows for the reader to pose other questions about how important is childhood, how much of actually doing something is important to learning and should those who seek to be different be made to be mold to the collective. Even though this is a short story there is a lot for the reader to consider.

November 20, 2013

Meet Misha J- Associate Clinical Project Managaer

The thing that I love the most about this new section to my blog is learning about the incredible women working everyday to make the world a better place through S.T.E.M. Today I have the pleasure to present to you Misha Johnson, an Associate Clinical Project Manager. Through her research, Ms. Johnson is working to help find a treatment for Parkinson disease.

Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Don Butto, Studio Art Lab

Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Don Butto, Studio Art Lab

A.H.: Why did you want to go into STEM?

M.J.: As a child, I was naturally inquisitive, always interested in the why and how. Science has always interested me in some capacity.  At the age of 10, for Christmas, I received a Chemistry set, and that solidified my aspirations for a career in chemistry.  I majored in Chemistry in college and was certain that I wanted a career as a Medicinal Chemist in Industry.  However, after an internship, I realized that I really wanted to learn more about the biology and the mechanisms of action of the compounds that I was synthesizing, and thus, opted to study Pharmacology in graduate school. For my thesis project, I focused on Neuropharmacology and c possible mechanisms for sex differences in midbrain dopaminergic systems.  My research had implications for both drug addiction and Parkinson’s disease. Having a grandmother with Parkinson’s disease, I loved the idea that the research that I was doing could be potentially advance the field.  From there, I knew that a career in clinical research would be a great fit as I wanted to play an active part in bringing new therapies to the people who need them.

A.H.: Where did you earn your degrees?

M.J.: I attended North Carolina Central University where I earned a B.S. in Chemistry.  For graduate school, I attended Duke University and earned a PhD in Pharmacology.

A.H.: Tell me about what you work on and why is this important?

M.J.: I am working as an Associate Clinical Project Manager for Quintiles in the Oncology Therapeutic Delivery Unit. I provide oversight for various functional groups to ensure that project deliverables are met and that a quality product is presented to the Pharmaceutical/Biotech companies that sponsor the clinical trials. While a departure from bench science, I still have the opportunity to learn about the mechanisms of action for the investigational products that we are researching.  It’s fulfilling to know that your contribution in the drug development process helped to advance a therapy that can eventually treat and/or improve the quality of life for patients with a life-threatening illness.

A.H.: How can people learn more about what you do?

M.J.: There are some great professional organizations, such as the ACRP (Association of Clinical Research Professionals) that provide opportunities for continued learning and networking.  If you are student at an academic institution with a medical center, there is likely clinical research being conducted in your backyard.  Try to connect with these individuals for opportunities to ask questions about their daily activities.

A.H.: What is the coolest thing you’ve learned since you started working in your field?

M.J.: Honestly, I believe that clinical research is really exciting in that I believe the work that we do is helping others. The field continues to change to incorporate new regulations and technologies, and so, I love that I am constantly learning either new skills or new information that is critical to my role. However, I have worn many hats during my time in the industry, including working as a Clinical Research Coordinator for a research site.  There, I learned phlebotomy – a skill that I never thought that I would acquire.

A.H.: Who has inspired you?

M.J.: The people who have inspired me through the years are my parents, who have encouraged and supported me.  I never felt that I had any limitations as to what I could achieve thanks to them.

A.H.: What motivates you to keep going?

M.J.: I am motivated by my faith, family, and the need to help others.

A.H.: What type of obstacles have you faced and how have you coped with them?

M.J.: I’ve been faced with several challenges in my career.  However, the one that stands out is finding my place in science.  During grad school, I learned that I did not enjoy the process of writing grants and publications.  I had also burned out on bench work.  It was a little disheartening to find that the things that I once enjoyed about research were now major roadblocks in my career.  I decided to change paths to clinical research. I was uncertain about how my skill set and background at the time would prepare for my new venture.  This was also an area for which I did not have a great deal of information.  To ensure that I was making the right decision career-wise, I began to reach out to others in the industry to educate myself about the industry. I am firm believer that knowledge is power.  Communications with professionals in various functional helped to steer me in the right direction.

A.H.: Do you have any advice for young women interested in going into clinical research?

M.J.: My advice to young women who are interested in my career is that it is never too early to begin research careers in Clinical.  Take advantage of opportunities for internships in the industry and/or opportunities to volunteer in a clinical setting. Also, becoming a student member of an organization such ACRP can provide an opportunity to be exposed to the various specialized areas of the industry and connect with professionals who can provide valuable information to better direct your career.  Taking in all of the information you can and taking advantage of all opportunities presented to you are key for making an informed decision and being successful in any industry.

A.H.: How do you share your love of science with others? Do you mentor, teach, etc?

M.J.: As I have received great mentoring from different individuals at various points in my career, I like to pass along the knowledge that I have acquired to undergraduate and graduate students who are interested in careers in clinical research.  I do serve as mentor for aspiring clinical researchers and enjoy participating in discussions/forums for students who may have questions about how to make the transition from basic to clinical research.

A.H.: I wish there was more time in the day, so I could….

M.J.: Channel more energy into Pomp & Panache, a candy buffet and sweets display company that I co-own with my sister.

A.H.: I have to ask, do you read science fiction or fantasy?

M.J.: I do not get around to doing much recreational reading of any kind these days.  😦 I am more a film buff! Some of my all time favorites include: Magnolia, Blue Velvet, and Gozu.

A.H.: Thank you Misha for taking the time out of your schedule to do this I’ve learned a lot and I know others have too.

Photo courtesy of Courtesy of Don Butto, Studio Art Lab