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Ivy Blog

Celebrating the Women Making an Impact in Science and Brain Tumor Research

In 2020, we hosted a dynamic and informative Facebook Live roundtable with some of the women of the Ivy Brain Tumor Center. The session was a Q&A on International Day of Women and Girls in Science and was hosted in an effort to provide a candid conversation about the challenges women face in their STEM-focused careers. All three women on the panel, with different backgrounds, ages, and perspectives, came with invaluable advice. During the discussion, the team shared how they’ve personally overcome some of the barriers commonly faced by women and that while society has come a long way, there is still work to be done in order to help build confidence, instill a sense of worthiness among peers and create a healthy work/life balance. 

Be confident, trust yourself and be persistent.

Dr. Shwetal Mehta
Deputy Director

The panel was hosted by Kristen Keogh, who interviewed Deputy Director of the Ivy Center, Dr. Shwetal Mehta, PhD student and researcher Costanza Lo Cascio, and Nurse Navigator Jacki Garcia, to discuss their roles at the Ivy Center and how women are making a global impact on science, especially within the field of neuro-oncology. Dr. Mehta brought up her negative subconscious beliefs and how she’s combatted these uncertainties within her career. She discussed the desire to move from a ‘lack’ mentality into an intelligent, intentional place of achievement and the importance of this for young girls interested in the field of science and biology.  Dr. Mehta also encouraged young women to move beyond cultural and societal norms so that they can explore what they’re most passionate about. 

Originally from Italy and raised in the United Kingdom, Costanza shared her story about overcoming the insecurities felt as a new researcher and incoming doctor. Every day, Lo Cascio studies treatment resistant mechanisms in malignant brain tumors in Dr. Mehta’s lab. Lo Cascio mentioned how beneficial it is to have a mentor like Dr. Mehta who encourages her to dive deeper, explore further and remain confident in her abilities. 

I love what I do, but I love what I do also because of who I’m being supported by.


Jacki Garcia also provided insight about working long hours as a nurse, creating a healthy work/life balance for her and her family, and how there’s not a single day she doesn’t use science in some aspect to do her job. 

No matter what your goals are, just know that you are worthy of it.

Jacki Garcia
Nurse Navigator

During the Q&A, the team also discussed imposter syndrome, with many questions about how to combat the insecurities of ‘not feeling good enough’ or ‘unworthy’ within their careers. The term, coined in 1978 by psychologists Pauline Clance and Suzanne Imes, is the belief that success is achieved through luck, complemented by the feeling that one may not be intelligent enough to succeed from their own expertise. All three women unanimously admitted to experiencing imposter syndrome and discussed the importance of normalizing these conversations among the workforce. All it takes, they said, is a reality check with yourself –reiterate that you are enough, you are doing enough and you know enough.

All three women who are immersed in the complex world of brain cancer research, continue to drive crucial expertise, support and hope to brain cancer patients and their families. With strong mentorship and a bit of vulnerability, their hope is that these conversations will encourage women to consider what can be achieved when we have powerful discussions about what is subconsciously holding women back. 

On #InternationalWomensDay, we honor and thank the women who work hard, move beyond social norms and continue to encourage others every single day. And as the ladies of the Ivy Center said, “We need more women in science… stay curious… and follow your dreams!”


Help us find a cure for brain cancer.

The Author

Ivy Center