Sasha and Talya Kramer, classes of 2008 and 2010 respectively, live more than 3,000 miles apart, on the west and the east coasts, but distance is no match for the strength of their connection.
Calls between these sisters are a daily occurrence. They are connected by science and their passion and pursuit of scientific discovery, the roots of which can be traced to their early days at Nashoba Brooks School.
“We are best friends in addition to being sisters,” according to Sasha. “We are lucky that we live in 2019 because we can be in constant contact by so many modes of communication.”
Sasha, a PhD candidate in Marine Science at UC Santa Barbara, conducts marine science and oceanographic research. Her work includes using optical methods to study phytoplankton ecology on the ocean’s global surface. She seeks to better understand the carbon cycle and the role of phytoplankton in sustaining ocean life. Her love of science started in third grade at Nashoba Brooks, with hands-on learning and fun experimentation.
“At Nashoba Brooks, I was interested in marine science and oceanography. In sixth grade we had to each pick a scientist to speak with. I picked a dolphin behaviorist,” Sasha recalls.
Talya, a PhD student in biology at MIT, recalls fun experiments of her own in second grade. “In class, we made stomachs using plastic bags. We put food into the bag to see what would break down easily. White bread broke down easily, but gumballs took forever to break down. We learned that this is how digestion works.”
Talya’s own scientific research has her uncovering the science of decision making by studying worms on a molecular level. Through a microscopic lens, worms can reveal a lot about the impact of adverse events, such as neglect and starvation. “If a worm experiences negative events early in life,” Talya questions, “does that affect decision making and behavior? Studying these tiny worms can help us better understand these same processes in people.”
Both sisters credit their time in an all-girls middle school for helping find their voices in a field still largely dominated by men. For Talya, who describes herself as a formerly “very shy and quiet” middle schooler, her experience at Nashoba Brooks helped shape the person she has become.
“Nashoba Brooks drew me out of my shell and encouraged me to share my opinions,” Talya reflects. “It was such a nurturing environment, and being in a classroom with only girls made me feel more comfortable speaking up. I gained confidence talking in class and asserting myself because of Nashoba Brooks,” she added.
Sasha adds that her experience at an all-girls school has empowered her in meetings where she is sometimes the only woman in the room.
When they look to take a break from their research, they find other ways to stay in touch through running, baking, cooking...and even blogging. They share photos and blog about their sweet creations. Both met in Philadelphia to complete a half marathon together two years ago. As far as the prospect of one day living closer? That is certainly a possibility.
“We dream about it.”