meet the black female scientist breaking barriers in france and protecting our sky

March 30, 2017
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Fatoumata Kebe is a 29-year-old astronomer who is one of 18 scientists recognized by Space Girls Space Women, a project dedicated to highlighting the achievements of women in space-related science professions. The French organization was founded by the European Space Agency in partnership with Sipa Press.

Kebe became fascinated with space when she was just 8-years-old after stumbling across her father’s encyclopedia on astronomy. Studying at the Institute of Celestial Mechanics and Calculation of Ephemerides (IMCCE), her groundbreaking research uncovered ways to limit space pollution, protecting the planet by performing simulations to anticipate disasters, monitoring debris hunting, and developing satellites.

Her work has also contributed to other fields like agriculture. With a small team of women in Mali, she runs the “Connected Eco” project which helps farmers determine the viability of soil using solar energy sensors.

Her message to young girls interested in reaching for the stars is simple: “Believe in yourself. Even if people encourage you, if you don’t believe in yourself, you’ll never make it. There is no substitute for self-belief. You have to be motivated. Believe in yourself, give yourself chances and even if it’s not easy, you have to try. Just try. Do not be defeatist.”