Bug Extract: Dr.Francl began her chemistry career as an organic synthetic chemist, researching about carminic acid (a compound extracted from bugs) in her undergraduate years at University of California, Irvine. It was not until she took her first quantum mechanics course where she began to fall in love with physical chemistry.
Passion Is Contagious: Students in her introductory general chemistry class may not fully understand her research in quantum mechanics, but that doesn’t stop Francl from sharing her fascination with them—and presenting it at a level they can grasp. “The Bryn Mawr science faculty believes that passion is contagious,” she says. “We are interested in developing students’ passion for science, not in screening out those who haven’t already been encouraged to recognize what is fascinating about science.”
Recalibrating the Lab: “The messages about women not belonging in science can be very subtle,” Francl explains, “but sending them over and over again has a cumulative effect.” Girls and women are told in many ways that they don’t “fit in” to the world of science—sometimes literally. “When we renovated the research-methodology laboratory here,” Francl says, “I asked the architects if the height of the benches could be calibrated to fit the average woman instead of the average man.”
Her Blog: Writing, as many young scientists may think, is not a chore or duty for Francl. In 2005, she launched a blog, Culture of Chemistry, that presents science in an engaging way for a wide range of audiences. Her advice to reluctant writers: “You don’t have to write for the whole world to see, but if you do some kind of writing practice for yourself the faster you’ll get so the less time you’ll have to spend doing something you despise.”
The Road Not Taken: “If I weren’t a chemist,” she says, “I would be a linguist or a theologian.” Her students, who know her as an exceptional cook and baker, might advise a culinary career.
Her Favorite Recipe: Dad’s hard rolls.
Her Students’ Favorite: Her ice cream.