From rocks to rockets: Caymanian blazes trail for female scientists

Caymanian scientist and inventor Martha Kay Williams has joined the ranks of the elite in her field recently been inducted into the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) Inventors Hall Of Fame.

The proud Cayman Brac mother-of-two credits her humble upbringing, steely work ethic and her strong support network of family and friends for her successful, decades-long career.

“Growing up in Cayman Brac with my five other siblings, I was taught early the appreciation of hard work and the importance of education. My first introduction to ‘probably’ a kind of inventing, being creative, making our own play areas out of limited resources, and making dolls out of painted rocks, ”she told the Cayman Compassadding, “For some growing up currently in the islands, that may seem farfetched now, but [it was] a great foundation for developing creative concepts and learning things that served me well. ”

Martha K. Williams with her parents Edmund and Elie Bodden in 2003 at her graduation challenge. -Photo: Submitted

Reflecting on her journey, Williams, 64, recounted the influence of American missionary families on the Brac that became pivotal to her life and career path.

“There are a couple of descriptive scientific words that I often use in my career, game changing and disruptive (significant positive change.) American missionaries, the Kings and the Aldridges came to Cayman Brac because of their spiritual callings, but ended up also having a major impact on the education pursuits of many young people. I was one of those young people, ”she shared.

It was through the Aldridges that she was able to go to the US for the first time as a teenager, on a student visa, Williams said. There, she was introduced to the pastor’s sister and her husband, the Elliotts, who “loved me and supported me with great generosity as I learned to transition to a completely new life and the American high school culture. To this day, I am blessed with that extended family, ”she said.

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