10 San Diego scientists named among the 1,000 best female researchers in the world

Steffanie Strathdee, an epidemiologist at UC San Diego, has been named among the best female scientists in the world.
Steffanie Strathdee, an epidemiologist at UC San Diego, has been named among the best female scientists in the world.
(Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego )

The list compiled by Research.com includes everyone from a scientist who modifies plants to fight climate change to an expert on sleep disorders.


Ten San Diego researchers have been named among the 1,000 best female scientists in the world by Research.com, a widely-used research portal for scientists based in England.

This is an inaugural list by the company, which says it based its choices on a scholar’s productivity, the impact of their work, specific contributions to their fields, and their awards and achievements.

Eight of the local scholars are current or emeritus faculty at UC San Diego, one of the nation’s 10 largest research schools. The other two are associated with the Salk Institute in La Jolla.

Most scientists aren’t widely known to the public. But UCSD epidemiologist Steffanie Strathdee, who is on the list, got a lot of attention in 2019 for “The Perfect Predator,” the non-fiction book she co-wrote with her husband, Tom Patterson.

The book tells the story of how Strathdee and her colleagues used an experimental mix of viruses to save her husband from dying of a superbug infection he developed in Egypt.

The seven other UCSD scholars are:

• Sonia Ancoli-Israel, an emeritus psychiatry professor known for her insights about how sleep disorders can affect aging and how to treat such disorders in people with dementia;

• Susan S. Taylor, a structural biologist whose study of cells has proven to be useful in the development of therapeutic drugs;

• Marta Kutas, an emeritus professor of cognitive science who explored how the human brain works, with a focus on language comprehension and memory;

• Susan F. Tapert, a psychiatry professor who studies brain development in children and adolescents;

• Andrea Z. LaCroix, an epidemiologist who studies healthy aging and cognition in older women and men.

The Research.com list also includes Salk Institute scholars Joanne Chory, a cell biologist who studies ways to improve the ability of plants to capture and store carbon, and emeritus researcher Catherine Rivier, who studied how the brain perceives and responds to such things as infection and psychological threats.

The Research.com list was developed by Imed Bouchrika, a data scientist who said in an online statement, “The aim of this ranking is to inspire female scholars, women considering an academic career, as well as decision-makers worldwide with the example of successful women in the scientific community.

“We hope that it will contribute to providing more opportunities, visibility, and equal chances for women in science.”