Frieda Taub

Photo: Frieda Taub
Professor Emeritus
Aquatic & Fishery Sciences
College of the Environment

Dr. Frieda Taub is a Professor Emerita of Aquatic and Fishery Sciences. She received her Ph.D. from Rutgers University in 1959 and began working at the University of Washington the same year. Dr. Taub studies microcosms and the effects of testing chemicals, such as pesticides, antibiotics, and metals, on aquatic communities. She also studies ecosystem properties.

Dr. Taub’s advice for women pursuing scientific careers? “Do what you want to do. I think that’s the only thing you can do. I don’t think anybody should become a scientist because herfamily or society wants her to.”

In an interview with UW ADVANCE, Dr. Taub talks about how she started out in biology and what it’s like to be a female scientist.

Q&A: Studying biology and being a female scientist

Q: What sparked your interest in biology?

A: Children’s Nature clubs in the Newark Museum, New Jersey. They offered these clubs as soon as you were in school. I went into kindergarten at four years of age. My sister didn’t want to take care of me after school so she signed me up for these clubs. Then, they changed the rules so you had to be seven. So from the time I was five until I was seven, I just wandered around the Newark Museum. The people in the science department got interested in me and wanted to know how much science they could teach a child. It really started way back when I was four or five years old when I started getting interested in science. The director of the Newark Museum was a strong female and many of the teachers were women as well. There I was as a young child, seeing women in positions of eminence and power.

Q: What does being a woman scientist mean to you?

A: I’m surprised at the fact that I was able to do it. I really regard it as a miracle of how much the world has had to change to make my lifestyle considered ordinary. Back in 1959, when I received my PhD, it was considered “really freaky” for a woman to have a PhD. When I told people that I had the ambition to become a college professor, I was told to “get real.” However, over time, people within my immediate milieu came to be supportive. But society has changed in terms of the acceptability of women.