Professor Pamela Raymond (B.S. 1971, M.S. ‘74, Ph.D. ‘76) was surprised to inherit an inappropriate trophy when she became the chair of her academic department ten years ago. She and Professor Deborah Goldberg talk about how they’ve worked with colleagues to beat unexpected bias, telling their story of how to science against the odds.



Highlights from This Episode


  • 3:19 – “The outgoing chair of MCDB presented me with a plaque, which had been given from one chair to the next since 1949. Mounted on it is the penis bone of a walrus.”
  • 5:51 – “My surprise reflected the fact that no one in the department, other than the chairs, knew about this bone. It was a secret.
  • 8:19 – “I became a little bit worried that the assistant professors in the department—particularly the women that we had been hiring and that I continued to hire—would be harmed by knowing about this, would feel, as I felt, in a way unwelcome.”
  • 9:51 – “This artifact was significant enough that it actually should be part of our archival history, and in the future, it might be an important piece of research for future social scientists looking at the traditions that existed in academia—the broader picture of gender issues and the climate or environment that discouraged women from going into science.”
  • 16:21 – “It’s kind of a constant vigilance, explicitly thinking about it, because it does make a difference when women are chairs. It really does.”
  • 18:53 – “I wanted to break the tradition. Smash it! The only reason we didn’t smash it was we felt there was some historical value to keeping the artifact.”


View the full Pamela Raymond and Deborah Goldberg episode transcript. Join the How to Science Facebook group to keep up on podcast extras.


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Visit the How to Science homepage for more episodes from Seasons 1 and 2.


Scientist Bios

Pamela Raymond (right) is an emeritus professor who joined the U-M faculty in 1980 after graduating from U-M as an undergrad (B.S. ‘71) and graduate student (M.S. ‘74, Ph.D. ‘76). She chaired the Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology in 2008–2013. Her research uses zebrafish to study the molecular biology of eye development and regeneration. Learn more about Pamela Raymond.

Deborah Goldberg (left) has been a professor in LSA since 1983. In 2001, she became the first female science department chair in U-M’s history, serving as head of the Department of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology for about a decade. For most of her career, she has studied plants in temperate ecosystems—but her heart always will be in the desert. Learn more about Deborah Goldberg.

How to Science host Monica Dus is a professor in LSA’s Department of Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental Biology (MCDB) who studies how the brain responds to the presence and absence of sugar. She wants to figure out how neurons sense and respond to the nutrients eaten as food. Her research relates to feeding behavior, energy balance, physiology, and obesity. She loves her three dogs, whose names are Cupcake, Sprinkles, and Brioche.

Learn more about Monica Dus’s research.


Podcast produced by Elizabeth Wason, Monica Dus, and Matthew J. Adams
Illustrations by Julia Lubas
Photos by Elizabeth DeCamp
Podcast theme music by Podington Bear