A 48-year PhD Pathway: Secrets to Success in Attaining One’s Goals

Saturday, September 12, 2020, 10:30am – 12:30pm

Cheryl Dembe’s Story

Cheryl Dembe on Equity

The Solubility Song

Dr. Dembe explores supportive educational influences, role models, and historical influences, along with difficult equity issues along her 48-year pathway to the granting of her PhD. The degree was completed in 1971, but blocked from write-up and publication when her advisor died, and those close to her research area refused a woman in their group. In 2000, she discovered that two years after she would have published, very similar parallel research was published, and awarded the Nobel Prize. After contacting Douglas Osheroff, the Nobel laureate, she was encouraged and offered support by him in requesting that The University of Chicago award her the degree. At that point, the letter went unanswered. In 2018, she was inspired by the #MeToo movement to write again, this time with a successful outcome. Her Four Steps used to encourage a correction when unjustly treated, are detailed. They include the importance of dropping anger, viewing the person or institution before you as the solution not the problem, believing that they have the integrity to want to right an error, considering that there is always a win-win solution, offering multiple items that could be satisfactory resolutions, and releasing focus on a specific outcome. This leads to successful results for everyone involved.

About the Speaker
Dr. Cheryl Sundari Dembe has a BS from The University of Michigan and a MS (1970) and PhD (2018) from The University of Chicago, working in superfluidity. She taught chemistry at Diablo Valley College for 34 years, serving three times as Department Chair, as well as an interim Division Chair of Physical Science and Engineering, hired architects for a Physical Science building, and spent 3 years with them designing it. She also taught at Holy Names College, Laney and College of Marin as well as at UC Berkeley on sabbatical. She was the first woman chemist, first woman Chemistry Department chair, and first woman Physical Science Division chair (interim) at DVC, as well as one of the first women to have children while teaching. She also worked in chemical industry. She authored the ancillary materials for “The World of Chemistry”, a 26-episode TV series hosted by Nobel laureate Roald Hoffman. Barred from normal research pathways without the doctorate, she developed 25 original chemical theories applied to life, society and the individual, interwoven at a lay level in the story line of her book, The Choice of Happiness, Glimpses from an Extraordinary Ordinary Scientific Mystical Life by Sundari Dembe. She has been active in music, singing with SF Opera, Oakland Symphony, a global Pineal Toning Choir, and has YouTube music videos, two on chemistry reactions. She has traveled to 45 countries, and been a rancher, and a meditation teacher. She speaks before many groups, has been interviewed on TV and radio, as well as having her story appear in major news publications, including Chemistry World, NPR, Mercury Sun, NYTimes and CBS News.