Dr. Hannah Shows is an intelligent engineer, studying both Biochemistry and Math for her Undergraduate studies and moving on to study Biomedical Engineering, for her Ph.D.. In the past, Shows has been an Epidemiology Research Assistant, Biochemistry Research Assistant, Computational Toxicologist, and Computer Engineering Graduate Research Assistant and currently works as a Patent Engineer. In her free time, she volunteers by mentoring with coding outreach to women and girls along with math outreach and science communication on social media!
When asked about her high school experience, Show’s response was promising and reassuring to the modern high school student, “Great news — I was admittedly not a particularly impressive high school student. I had
some extracurriculars and decent grades, but nothing special. I call this great news because it means that if you’re already strongly focusing on career goals, you are well ahead of the curve. If you are feeling anxiety about not doing enough in high school, you have *plenty* of time to make up for it. While I strongly recommend high school students take any and all opportunities that they can (particularly anything that will give you hands-on experience or teamwork skills), remember to rest when needed and have fun as well.” We also asked Dr. Hannah if there were any classes that she would recommend current high schoolers take advantage of and pursue, to which she provided some illuminative-informative advise, “More and more hands-on courses are being offered to high school students today. If you have the opportunity to try an engineering or computer science class with projects, it will give you a big head start later. AP classes and college credit opportunities are both great, but if you have to pick between one or the other, I would take the college credit. AP classes are great learning opportunities, but they don’t always guarantee an exemption later on in college and I’m not a fan of standardized tests.”
For her Undergraduate studies, Show studied both Biochemistry and Math at the University of Iowa, and here she also completed four years of Undergraduate Research. From her university, she was awarded with the University of Iowa Distinguished Leadership Award 2013. She shared that the most important classes she took here that still help her now were “Differential Equations, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, [and] Technical Communication in Research” and her favorite classes included “Physical Chemistry [and] Linear Algebra”. Out of all the classes she took at the University of Iowa, Shows stated that “Organic Chemistry” was the toughest she took. One tip she has for both current and incoming college students is “Go to office hours! Instructors are human beings who aren’t scary and they are choosing to teach because they care. Not only should you feel comfortable asking questions, regularly visiting office hours to simply work on homework or review exam answers helps develop rapport with your professors and they will be great candidates to help you in the future.” When asked who her favorite professor or mentor she encounter in her Undergraduate studies Dr. Hannah said that this person would be her “first research advisor in epidemiology. She wasn’t just a great teacher of science; she was an incredible mentor and role model for finding my place and my voice as a woman in science.” Finally, we asked her what her favorite thing about the University of Iowa was, “The University of Iowa is such a special environment because it truly offers a little bit of everything. Iowa is a liberal arts school where each student gets exposure to the humanities, an R1 school with some of the best research in the country, and a wonderful inclusive student environment with constant opportunities to engage with your peers.”
In the past, Dr. Hannah Shows was worked as an Epidemiology Research Assistant, Biochemistry Research Assistant, Computational Toxicologist, and Computer Engineering Graduate Research Assistant and she currently works as a Patent Engineer at HBW, LLP. Her ultimate favorite project that she has worked on throughout her career was “Anything that takes me out of my biotechnology comfort zone — projects in particular that stand out are tech clients within video game development and cosmetics”.
When asked for an overview of what she does as a Patent Engineer from day to day, she said that, “Patent law is a great career path for scientists and engineers who are passionate about science communication. I help ensure that the communication between inventors and attorneys is well understood on all sides. Additionally, I write scientifically accurate material for patent applications and design figures that help general audiences understand the invention.” She feels that this job has helped her grow in her “communication skills every single day. Additionally, I’m constantly learning new technologies and applications with each client I work with.” So, what makes Show want to keep coming back to this job everyday? She said that “Patent law as a field includes many enthusiastic individuals who LOVE to talk about science and engineering. In comparison to the “highs and lows” of academic research, I only interface with research staff after a big win. Every client you meet loves to share their work with you and for the overwhelming majority of the time, you are meeting with very happy scientists and engineers. Every practitioner (attorneys, agents, and specialists) I work with loves to discuss science. When I’m not getting to be the very first person a scientist shares their exciting news with, I’m having lively discussions with my colleagues about the innovations we learned about that week and how we can best articulate the magic of each idea in writing.” Dr. Hannah said that this workplace very much so inspires her because she is “constantly presented with new challenges. It keeps me motivated to learn. Additionally, when the work feels too difficult, seeing how enthusiastic my colleagues are every day helps me increase my energy too!”
In the future, she hopes to “someday go to law school so that I can practice as an attorney as well. Many PhD/JDs become partners at their own firm and have a lot of independence in what kinds of clients they would like to work with. (If you go into patent law with a PhD, law firms commonly have a financial aid program to support your law education!)”
Before entering this field, Shows wished she would have been told “Don’t be afraid to speak up for yourself confidently — we are socially conditioned as women to feel the need to modify our language with statements like “I think,” “if that makes sense,” “I’m not sure but”, etc. to avoid sounding arrogant or disagreeable… and my supervisors are always encouraging me to speak as if I am the expert in the room and I don’t need approval. It’s refreshing and I wish I started practicing this much sooner.”
Outside of all of her incredible work and accomplishments, Dr. Hannah Shows enjoys exercising by going to the gym, hiking, and yoga, both playing music and seeing live music, reading, and video games. She also takes part in various volunteering including working with Stop the Bleed, Food Banks, kitten advocacy, and coding mentoring where her favorite organizations to work with include Girl Scouts and Girls Who Code! Shows also has many side projects that are all aimed at making a difference in STEAM education including Math Education and Math Anxiety, Disability Inclusion in STEAM, and Damaging effects of gender roles in STEAM.
We asked Shows to share any challenges she faced at either school or the workplace with us, and she shared with us this inspirational quote, “Women, particularly women with bold personalities or women who do not “tone down” their femininity, are often met with unfriendly faces in STEAM. This is particularly true for math-heavy fields like physics, engineering, or computer science. I think it’s so important that we provide a supportive web for each other to make it easier to find allies, mentors, and cheerleaders. If you haven’t found your people in STEAM yet or feel anxious to try, I hope that you brave the storm because communities with open arms are out there waiting for you to find them. Not only to speak up for yourselves, but to use your voice and privilege to speak up for others as well.”
To end this article, we asked why she loves her job in STEAM, Dr. Hannah Shows shared that she has “a letter that my dad wrote me eleven years ago that he signed “stay curious, stay brave, stay a geek.” I get to do that every day by working with cutting edge technology and helping other women on similar paths. I can’t think of a more fulfilling way to earn a living.”
✨Dr. Hannah Shows is an inspiration and mentor to all wanting to pursue or currently pursuing STEAM and we thank her for taking the time to share her stories and advice with us!✨