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GirlGeek of the Week
February 2000

Elizabeth Keller

Elizabeth Keller

Elizabeth holds a Bachelor's and a Master's degree in behavioral science and worked for NASA doing research in Aerospace Human Factors, and the space program developing life science experiments for flight on the shuttle. When she used her computer/technology savvy to put together an automated data acquisition system for NASA, which was very well received by the scientific community, Elizabeth seriously began to think about a career change.

She quit NASA to stay home with her brand new baby girl just as the Internet was coming into its own. "Instead of watching soap operas I decided to teach myself all about the Internet, " she said. After six weeks of surfing, Elizabeth created extremescience.com. The site attracted attention and she is now a professional Web designer.

When did you first discover your love and/or obsession with computers and technology?

My first experience with computers was as a child when my father, an engineer for IBM at the time, was building his own computer. I was fascinated by the complexity and confusion of the internal parts of the computer, watching intently as my father soldered tiny components onto a breadboard. He was never able to finish the project for lack of time, but he brought home an Apple II just a few years later. He set me and my sisters up on the Apple and showed us how to navigate the system and what it could be used for. I remember going begrudgingly at first, and then really got disgusted when I had sat up until 2:00am composing an entire thesis (eight pages) and the electricity went out! It was a very painful lesson, but a very important one: always pause to save your work and make back ups!

Despite that bad experience I learned that computers were very powerful tools. Even at a very young age I was savvy enough to know that I'd better learn to be proficient with computers because I knew they would figure prominently in my future. I took a programming class in Basic in high school and fell in love with technology.

How do you earn a living?

I am currently working for small, but multi-national start up company as the in-house Web professional. I report directly to the VP of Marketing.

Do you consider yourself a Geek?

Yes, always have, always will. You really have to be an independent spirit to follow your heart, even though social pressures would have you do something more acceptable for a woman who's attractive and socially competent. There's been a lot of pressure for me to do non-Geek things - like modeling, sales, teaching, etc. But since I have the smarts, the desire to be intellectually challenged, and a "no fear" mentality, technology is a career I'm very well suited to.

What is your favorite Website?

Well, I'd be lying if I said it was anything other than my own - extremescience.com. It is my labor of love and continues to be so. It started out as kind of an encyclopedia for things ultimate (world-records) in the natural world, but I'm turning it into a more complete online science and technology reference/resource. It's won multiple awards, as well as a nod from the National Science Foundation, a feature on Discovery Online, and now the coup de gras -- the National Geographic Society has asked me to publish the contents as a book or series of books. I've even been approached by an independent producer to create a kids' TV series based on the Website concept.

What do you do when you are not working?

I'm the mother of two adorable, bright, high-spirited little girls and I dedicate much of my "extra" time to them. They are the most important reason I chose to stay at home for four and a half years, and they are also the most important reason I chose to go back to work -- to lead by example. I take them on enriching family field trips to the aquarium and go exploring at the beach. Santa just gave them a microscope for Christmas and we're going to explore it for the first time today!

I'm also very happily married to a non-Geek who's very supportive of me and my accomplishments. We are really outdoor folks, preferring to go fishing, hiking, mountain biking, or hunting. We went hunting for wild boar on our wedding anniversary two years ago. How many wives would agree to that?

 
 
 


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