Nancy Hopkins & Kate Zernike


Nancy Hopkins is the AmgenProfessor of Biology Emerita in the Department of Biology in MIT’s School of Science and recipient of the National Academy of Sciences Public Welfare Medal. She is a faculty member at the Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research. In her research at MIT, Hopkins used genetics to shed light on the mechanisms by which tumor viruses cause cancer.

Kate Zernike is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter for The New York Times. She was previously a reporter for The Boston Globe, where she broke the story of MIT’s admission that it had discriminated against women on its faculty, on which The Exceptions is based.

Julianna LeMieux


Julianna LeMieux is the Deputy Editor in Chief at Genetic Engineering & Biotechnology News (GEN). She covers genomics, infectious disease, aging, and cell and gene therapy. She received her PhD in molecular biology and microbiology from the Tufts University School of Medicine in Boston and did her post-doc training at MIT.

Laura Insensee


Laura Isensee is a journalist based in Houston, Texas. She has covered education, politics and diverse communities, and her work has been published by NPR, Reveal, Marketplace, the Miami Herald and Houston Public Media, among others. She graduated from The University of Texas at Austin and earned a masters degree in journalism from Columbia University.

Episode Description

Dr. Nancy Hopkins, a molecular biologist who made major discoveries in cancer genetics, became an unlikely activist in her early fifties. She had always believed that if you did great science, you would get the recognition you deserved. But after years of humiliations — being snubbed for promotions and realizing the women's labs were smaller than those of their male counterparts — she finally woke up to the fact that her beloved MIT did not value women scientists. So measuring tape in hand, she collected the data to prove her point. In The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science, Kate Zernike tells Nancy's story, which led to MIT’s historic admission of discrimination against its female scientists in 1999. Host Julianna LeMieux talks with Kate and Nancy about the journey.

ART DESIGN: Keren Mevorach. Credit: Scribner Books


Special Edition of The MIT Faculty Newsletter, Vol. XI No. 4, March 1999.

The Exceptions: Nancy Hopkins, MIT, and the Fight for Women in Science, by Kate Zernike, Simon & Schuster, 2023.

Report Finds Bias Against Women in Science and Engineering, PBS NewsHour, Sept. 19, 2006. 

Breaking Through: My Life in Science, by Katalin Karikó, Crown Publishing Group, 2023.

The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race, by Walter Isaacson, Simon & Schuster, 2021. 

Episode Transcript

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