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Healing and Empowerment for Women

Category Archives: Science

Fifty three years ago, I was a senior at Bladensburg Senior High School in Maryland. I was a rising star in the science world and in the science fair world. I was Photography Editor of the yearbook.

Susan w butterfly necklace

I had been a scientist, in my soul, since childhood. I came from a family of photographers and had worked in the darkroom since I was 7. My dad was the Medical Photographer at George Washington University Medical School in DC and I had gone to work with him often, on Saturdays, all through grade school. I had hung out with medical scientists when I was there.

susan joe poppy

My success and my gender were apparently too much for my high school Physics teacher and the Photography teacher. Sadly, their classrooms were across the hall from one another and  they were best buddies. This allowed them to gang up on me more.

I was the only girl in my “Double Physics” class. Back in the day (1964-65) we didn’t have AP classes. Serious science students could sign up for classes like Double Chemistry, a two hour class which I had taken the year before. Now I was in Double Physics, another two hour class, this one with a total of 12 students.

The Physics teacher would have been fired the same day if I’d had an iPhone and had recorded his daily, sexist, misogynist remarks to me. “There is only one thing a woman can do that a man cannot do, and she needs a man to help her do it,” he said one day.

By some miracle of grace, I paid him little attention in these attacks. I was there to continue my science education by learning Physics.

Only two of us in the class took the Science Talent Search exam. Only one of us was named to the Honors Group. That would be me.

Only one of us would earn a slot in the International Science and Engineering Fair. That would be me.

The Photography teacher was the yearbook advisor I had to work with. And of course, I had to use his darkroom, right across from the Physics classroom. I had worked in darkrooms since I was seven. I really had no questions for the Photography teacher, I knew what I was doing and did it quickly and efficiently.

The Photography teacher was actively hostile to me, every day, for no reason. The two teachers were “best buds.” Neither touched me. They just tried to shame and discourage me.

It didn’t work. I was respectful to both of the teachers, and held myself aloof from their cruelty.

I was able to exact revenge on the Physics teacher twice.

The Maryland Academy of Sciences chose to honor me at a special dinner in Baltimore, 38 miles away. Your science teacher was to accompany you. I told my Physics teacher of this requirement. He suggested that my old Chemistry teacher do it instead. I replied that they wanted him to be there. I could have asked my Chemistry teacher, who had moved to another school. He would have been glad to support me, but I wanted my Physics teacher to have to drive me there and back, and to sit beside me and watch me be honored.

The second “revenge” came twelve years later. I knew that the Physics teacher had always wanted to go to medical school and had not been able to get in.

When I graduated medical school, I had already earned a MS in Human Physiology, I learned that my Physics teacher had retired. I called the office at the Prince George’s County School Board and spoke to the woman who sent out the checks to retired teachers. “Oh,” I said, “he will be so thrilled for me. If I mail you a copy of my graduation announcement, would you mail it to him for me.” She readily agreed. I sent it.

Of course, I never heard from him.

I am writing this today because I read an article in the Washington Post about a math teacher who tried to tear down female students. I am here to say that teachers like that have tried to tear us down for a very long time.

It is my understanding that both of my former teachers are deceased. I leave their names off out of respect for their families. I am sure that both men did good in their lives, although not to me.

An organization, Stop Sexual Assault in Schools, created the hashtag that leads this post.

Here is the link to today’s WP article:

*The portrait of me was taken by my brother, Stephen C. Delaney, who was the photographer for the EPA for its first 25 years. The second photo was taken by my dad. I am standing with my uncle and grandfather.

Susan Delphine Delaney MD, MS

Doctor Delaney was honored by the Prince George’s County Regional Science Fair; The Westinghouse Science Talent Search; the International Science and Engineering Fair; The Washington Academy of Sciences: The Maryland Academy of Sciences. She is a 1969 Graduate of the University of Maryland in Chemistry, in an American Chemical Society accredited program. She worked as a Chemist, wrote operating systems for large scientific computers and did hospital data processing. She earned a MS in Human Physiology in 1974 from the University of Wisconsin. She earned her MD from the University of Wisconsin in 1977. She is a 1981 graduate of the Menninger School of Psychiatry. She was a Staff Psychiatrist at the Menninger Hospital and taught in the Menninger School of Psychiatry. She is the author of two books. The first won a Gold Medal for Health Communication from the American Association of Medical Writers. She is the author of two nationally distributed columns and many magazine articles. She has given presentations at the UTSW Medical School and at several Dallas area colleges.


enso brushstroke red black

In 1969, when working as an Adhesives Chemist, a male co-worker was resentful that as a degreed chemist, I made more money than he.

One day I found a huge p*nis made of black mastic lying in the crease of my lab notebook. Mastic is a black putty-like adhesive, still used to fix down linoleum floor tiles.

I pulled off the tip of the p*nis and fashioned a tiny p*nis from it and laid the tiny one in the crease of his lab notebook.

I laid the mutilated one beside his notebook.

That was the end of that.

He never bullied me again.

0004 pussy hat

Our individual snowflakes, our pushbacks, have become an AVALANCHE of justice for women.

Good on us!


(Note: the painting at the top of this page is one of mine.)


Earrings Everyday’s October theme is Harvest Moon. Here are a few pairs of earrings I have made with a moon theme:

Shine On Harvest Moon. The moon disks are made from some of my Opal Polymer Clay then dry brushed with several colors of interference acrylics. I added Basha Beads to complete them.


Apollo 17. The next pair have great sentimental value to me. After Apollo 17, Spock and Kirk went around to all of the NASA locations to thank the workers for their help with the mission. Spock put the tiny Lunar Lander into Mother’s hand and she gave it to me, her nerd daughter.


The Sea of Tranquility. The next pair, with matching pendant, is polymer “Ivory” with pearls. They remind me of the moon’s surface.

ivory pendant

Moon Shadows. The next pair have ostrich shell rounds and beads by StoneDesignsbySheila.


Moonstones Melody. The next pair have tiny cubical moonstones and tiny pearls with baroque pearl drops.


Red Moon Rising. The next pair have a harvest moon from my molten lava polymer clay and tiny Basha Beads.


Once in a Blue Moon is made from marbled polymer clay.


Thanks for going on this moon journey with me!


(The Art Bead Scene post is one click down)

Every month Erin Prais-Hintz gives us an amazing design challenge. The challenges have ranged from photos of dragonflies, to short movies and this month: Architecture.


When I saw this building, and the others in the challenge, I knew I had to make earrings with Dinosaur Bone. And not just any Dinosaur Bone, Opalized Dinosaur Bone.

In medical school I learned that the hip bone is “spongy” inside. It is not solid bone but has “trabeculae”, long arches of bone in its spongy core. The arches are virtually identical to the arches architects have used over the centuries to create the supports for cathedrals and for modern buildings like the one above.

If you are a nerd like me, you are going “duh” because the laws of physics apply equally to supporting bone and supporting the roofs of buildings.

Here is an X-ray of a hip bone. The image is reversed, so the bone shows black. Do you see the swooping, curved lines?


Here is a drawing that shows the lines that support the bone:


If you go to and look at all of the photos Erin posted, YOU WILL SEE THESE SAME LINES AND CURVES IN THE LOAD-BEARING WALLS OF EVERY ONE OF THE BUILDINGS in the challenge.

I am in year two of a five year plan to create gorgeous polymer clay opals.

When Erin posted the April Challenge, I had just seen this photo of Opalized Dinosaur Bone and pinned it to my “Opals to Polymerize” Pinterest board.


This fossil is a tiny piece of a dinosaur bone, so you don’t see the swooping lines we’d see if we had an X-ray of the dinosaur’s whole hip bone.

Here are the earrings I made:


I really had fun making these. I created two shades of green opal, two of blue and one of violet. I mixed tiny shreds of these colors into five different color combinations. I wrapped the green ones in Raw Umber Premo and the blue ones in Burnt Umber. If you look closely you can see how this enhanced the natural, organic feel to the piece.

The opal clay sparkles and twinkles just like mineral opal.

I used dyed jade beads as drops below the Opalized Dinosaur Bone. It’s translucency enhances the mineral feel to the earrings.

Here is another shot. The photo finishing to bring up the sparkle of the opal made my hands look a bit blue.


Join me on a trip down memory lane:


This is one of my early pieces, a pendant of Fossilized Dinosaur Bone, in this case the spaces in the spongy bone of the dinosaur filled with the mineral Apatite, Fools’ Gold. This is my interpretation in polymer. I have one of these available to sell. Message me at if you are interested.


This piece, a small pendant, is very dear to me. The green clay is my very first successful batch of opal clay. I’d been playing with a technique which hadn’t worked and I was processing the clay so that I could turn it into Beads of Courage for kids with cancer, and voila, there it was. I had discovered the next step in making beautiful opals from polymer.


This is another pendant, from my second batch of opal clay. I’d seen an amazing fossil: Opalized Snakeskin, in these colors. I had to try to make it.

Thanks for following my journey.

I am so grateful to Erin for creating these challenges. I always enjoy them, but I must say the deep nerdyness involved in this one kept a grin on my face the whole time I worked.

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Every month, Erin Praise-Hintz of Earrings Everyday issues the challenge to make a pair of earrings based on a prompt.

This month’s prompt was a photo of dew covered damselflies:


The prompt led me to create the earrings above. And helped me solve TWO design challenges that had bedeviled me.

I had two “failed” necklaces on my workbench. Both of them had laid there for a LONG time.

One was made with the large frosty/icy aqua lampwork beads you see in the photo above. They had posed a huge design conundrum because they TURN LAVENDER in natural light (I photographed them in florescent light, above.) I had made and remade necklaces with them, but none was “right”.

I also had some Aqua Aura beads on my bench that had been incorporated into several failed necklaces. Aqua Aura is clear crystal quartz that has been heat treated with 24K gold vapor. The treatment causes it to turn aqua and to acquire an iridescent lavender/golden finish. You can see a small bead of Aqua Aura in each of the earrings above.

Erin’s challenge got me to looking at both sets of beads. Finally the thunderclap came: incorporate them into the same jewelry set, incorporating the lavender/aqua lampwork beads; the Aqua Aura (I had one big bead of it and many tiny round ones; light Azore AB Swarovski crystals; lots of tiny Aquamarine beads (rounds and cubes); a few shades of amethyst Swarovski crystals, and two sizes of Amethyst rounds.


Here is the complete set in florescent light, which is the lighting at my office:


It looks AMAZING at the office!

And here it is if I step outside:


OK, but not spectacular.

So, thanks to Erin’s challenge, I have a wonderful statement necklace, matching earrings and a bracelet for each arm.

Two sets of beads that had driven me crazy trying to find a way to use them have come together in a lovely, useful jewelry set. Thanks, Erin!

If you liked my design, head over to my Etsy shop, to the second page, where you will find several items that COULD have been inspired by Erin’s post.

* Newborn Unicorn Twins – a pair of earring disks made with my Mystic Roman Glass Opals

* Northern Lights; Lighting Up the Tundra and Aurora Australis, three pairs of earring disks inspired by the Northern and Southern Lights.

* Underwater at Puerta Vallarta, gorgeous watery translucent and opal clay goddess earrings with matching gemstone adventurine rondelles.

Here is the url of the challenge where you can see what the other participants made:


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I wept when I saw this photo on Facebook today. I weep as I write this. Science Fair was my salvation!

I was a teen when my family hit really hard times.

Fortunately, I was a kid who was a native of Washington DC. Four generations of my family had nourished our minds and souls at the Smithsonian Museums.

When I was a girl, Mother would pack me a sack lunch and pin two streetcar tokens to my blouse and off I would go to spend the day at the museums on the Washington Mall.

Natural History was my favorite one, especially the Hall of Minerals. I loved crystals.

Later, my science fair project would be about crystals. I grew crystals in a strong electrostatic field and observed the changes in their behavior under the influence of that field.

Even as my family was collapsing around me, I continued with my project. I did well in the school fairs and the regional fair. When I was a senior in high school, I won first Grand Prize in the Regional Science Fair and won a trip to the International Science and Engineering Fair in St. Louis.

As a result, I won enough scholarships that I could attend college. I completed my BS in Chemistry in 3 1/2 years.

Later, I would earn an MS in Human Physiology.

And later, my MD.

All because of Science Fair.

When my daughter started first grade I started volunteering to judge school, district and regional science fairs. I did so for 16 years. I judged twice at International.

My daughter was a science fair kid, too.

I coached her science fair classes starting when she was in 9th grade.

I taught the science fair kids to watch three movies:

* October Sky, because science fair CAN be your ticket “out”.

* Space Monkeys, because sometimes the judges give it to the monkeys.

* Cool Runnings, because, “If you are not OK before you win the gold medal, you won’t be OK after you win it.”

I am happy to say that science fair taught my wonderful daughter poise and grace under fire from science fair judges. She’s an alumna of the International Science and Engineering fair, too. She’s a PA and holds her own BS and MS.

So, you see, I wept when I saw the photo at the top of this blog. Because of science fair, I have three degrees. Because of science fair I’ve written two books, three columns for national magazines, many articles for national magazines and now this blog.

Thank you, Science Fair!

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A bead artist in one of my Facebook groups was bemoaning her cracked fingertips. I will share what I wrote to her, in case you are suffering as well.

I am a doctor/artist and I wrote a comprehensive health care guide for women who do crafts. It won a Gold Medal for Health Communication and was a Main Selection of the Doubleday Cooking and Crafts club.

One whole chapter of my book is on the fingers.

Here is what I am doing this winter for my cracked fingertips. Every night I put a teaspoon of sugar in my palm and pour in about a teaspoon of olive oil. I scrub down my hands, the backs, palms and fingertips. I rub my fingertips in my palms in the sugar scrub to burnish off dead skin and to stimulate the blood vessels.

Then I wash off the sugar with water under the tap, then most of the oil with hand soap.

I keep my fingernails very short so that the skin on the tips is uniformly tough, so that it resists cracking.

At bedtime I put 1/2 teaspoon of sweet almond oil in my palm and I massage it into my hands, especially my nail beds and fingertips. The massage not only delivers the oil to my skin but opens up the capillary beds so that maximum sturdiness of the skin develops.

If you want my book, many Amazon Booksellers have it for 1 cent plus $3.99 shipping (this keeps me humble; if you buy from Amazon Booksellers I won’t make even that one cent, which is fine).

If you need it today you can get it from C&T Publishing as an e-book. There’s a hot link to the C&T listing on my author website

BTW, C&T was the best publisher a gal could dream of!

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