“At times it’s amazing to be a woman in tech, but at others it’s challenging. When I feel most challenged with it, I push myself to use the challenge as motivation for getting more women in this industry.” – Jesse @LifeOmic

Today, we are celebrating the women at LifeOmic for International Women’s Day!

The theme for this year’s International Women’s Day is “balance drives a better working world“. So we wanted to take this opportunity to introduce you to the amazing STEM (science, tech, engineering and math) women on our team, and let them talk about their passions, challenges and visions for the future of health tech!

Women of LifeOmic! Top, left to right: Melissa, Jesse, Paige, Ashley. Bottom, left to right: Krisanna, Annica, Rory, Candace.

LifeOmic: How did you get into STEM? What inspired you?

“I never had to worry about the feeling that women didn’t belong in tech, because I lived with proof that it could be done.” – Ashley @LifeOmic

Annica Burns, Director of Mobile Engineering: My earliest inspiration was the Apple IIe my parents brought home for us to play with when I was a child.

Jesse Kinser, Director of Platform Security: My passion for tech started early. I got my first computer in third grade and spent a lot of time tinkering and learning. This passion grew in college when I started doing in-depth research on various security topics like digital forensics and mobile hacking.

Rory Scout Harlow, Mobile Product Designer: Both science and design have always intrigued me. In fact, I changed majors from science to art and design in my freshman year of college. One of my favorite things to learn about is the human body. I love understanding the brain and how it operates, the mechanisms by which our body functions, and why and how it can deviate from the ‘norm’. I also discovered early that I had a creative edge. Both sides of my family are filled with artists. I can remember as a child loving to make things look good. I didn’t really discover that I had a talent for it until I was much older… but let’s just say science fairs were my JAM. 

I think the combination of my interest in science, particularly biology and nutrition, and passion for design naturally led me into technology. When I discovered at Herron School of Art and Design what User Experience design was—design backed by user research—I knew I had found my dream job. 

Paige Jarreau, Director of Science CommunicationI grew up wanting to be a writer, reading every science fiction book I could get my hands on. My favorite authors were Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Kurt Vonnegut. But as I got older, my love for science and biology took over my career and educational interests. I read this book when I was around 10-12 years old that was a “choose your own adventure” book about a man that shrank himself so small that he could travel inside the human body, blood vessels, cells, organelles and finally down to the size of atoms. After that I was hooked; my absolute favorite subject was cell biology. I went through high school and college wanting to go into biological engineering to design prosthetics and artificial organs. I DID go to school for biological engineering, mostly working on nano (tiny) materials for cancer drug delivery. I didn’t realize until nearly 10 years into my science education that ultimately my first love would win out. I started a science blog in 2011 and the rest is history! I went back to school to get a PhD in communication and became a professional science communicator.

Melissa Webb, Senior Product ManagerI spent my time in college split between STEM courses in computer science, economics and statistics, and courses in arts, language and literature. I started my career in banking but quickly realized that the finance industry didn’t allow me to use my creative side. The tech industry brings a perfect balance for using my hard and soft skills.

Candace Luebbehusen, Event Marketing AssociateI made an industry shift and moved into tech after feeling stuck and stalled in my former industry. My husband worked in software for over three years and he would come home and tell me all of the exciting milestones his company hit. It was contagious!

Ashley Soucar, Senior Mobile EngineerMy mom was my inspiration to get into tech. She was one of the first women to graduate from Rhode Island Junior College with a Computer Science degree. I never had to worry about the feeling that women didn’t belong in tech, because I lived with proof that it could be done.

Annica rests during a LifeOmic camping retreat
Annica rests during a LifeOmic camping retreat. Annica is LifeOmic’s Director of Mobile Engineering. She has been building mobile apps and managing mobile development teams in healthcare since 2014. Annica’s current work building mobile apps for Healthcare seems predictable in hindsight, but took a circuitous route. While studying medicine at BYU, Annica realized it was the wrong path when she couldn’t euthanize shelter dogs brought to the lab for experimentation. She decided to put her pre-med degree to use as a science writer and headed to Northwestern for an M.S. in Journalism. Instead she found her true calling when a professor asked her to join a Media startup where she quickly gravitated to the technology side of the business building the databases, web apps and cloud services that were core to the startup’s future.

LifeOmic: What most excites you about working in the health technology space?

AnnicaThe potential to massively improve human health by delivering on the promises of Precision Health and by using mobile devices to close the feedback loop between patients and providers.

Jesse, Director of Platform Security: Healthcare is an area that impacts each and every one of us regardless of who or where we are. To be able to focus on improving patient outcomes using my technology skills means that I can make a difference in the world without a medical degree.

RoryI love the body. I love knowing what it means to be healthy and I love learning about the short and long-term effects that nutrition and lifestyles have on our overall well-being. Getting to work for a tech company that is as intrigued as I am about learning these things—and learning them precisely—is pretty spectacular.

PaigeBeing a small part of a precision health platform and mobile app ecosystem that has the power to truly save lives is incredibly inspiring. I hadn’t ever really written about health research for broad audiences until I came to LifeOmic. Just this week a blog post I wrote about the science of intermittent fasting reached 20,000+ people! That’s a level of impact that I never thought I’d have. It is a team effort. It’s also nerve-wracking – I’m most concerned that everything I put out into the world for LifeOmic is factually accurate and based 100% on peer-reviewed science.

(Learn more about how to interpret fasting science yourself and the scientific publication process in this podcast I recently did with HVMN.)

MelissaHealthcare as an industry is disjointed. We live in a world of big but disparate data. There are many opportunities to help improve the quality of care people receive. Many individuals across the globe are passionate about making a difference in people’s health and wellness journeys, and the proper use of technology in the healthcare space can be a conduit for making that easy and effective. I love what I do because when we make health and wellness more accessible, affordable and efficient, we are giving people the opportunity to live longer, healthier lives.  

CandaceI love the fast pace of the work and the passion of everyone involved at LifeOmic. Working in health technology is especially exciting because the victories impact everyone. If we succeed as a company, so do patients everywhere.

AshleyThis is a whole new field for me. I’ve seen firsthand how lack of information and communication can hurt patients, and LifeOmic’s projects fit nicely into fixing that.

Jesse in action on a panel at a security event
Jesse in action on a panel at a security event. Jesse is LifeOmic’s Director of Platform Security. “Security Guru” is not an exaggeration for her – she makes sure that our products are secure and that our customers’ data is protected. Jesse graduated from the School of Informatics at Indiana University Bloomington in 2010 with a passion for security and set off to Washington D.C. to work in the Intelligence Community. During her 5-year term in the government sector working on various National Security research and development projects, she also completed her Master’s in Computer Science. When she isn’t focused on building and breaking things (she is a member of the HackerOne community and is featured in their latest report), she enjoys camping with her family, attending music festivals and traveling the world.

LifeOmic: What is it like to be a woman in STEM? 

AnnicaWomen communicate differently than men. Women communicate differently than men. Women communicate differently than men.

Jesse: It’s a two-sided coin. At times it’s amazing to be a women in tech, but at others it’s challenging. When I feel most challenged with it, I push myself to use the challenge as motivation for getting more women in this industry.

RoryTo me, it’s always been very cool to be one of the only women at the table, especially in tech. It’s made me feel exceptionally accomplished, because I know what I had to do to get here: I had to work harder, longer and prove myself many more times than I’ve witnessed from my male peers. It feels good to have earned my seat. Do I think it’s necessarily fair that I had to work so much harder? No, but, I do think—ironically—it has been advantageous. I feel prepared for the future, for more responsibility. I love my industry and I love being a woman in it…and that may have a lot to do with the fact that I love a good challenge. Technology keeps you on your feet with something new to learn almost every week. It’s an exciting place to be, especially as a young woman. You feel like you are doing something your daughter and mother would be proud of.

PaigeI’ve always loved being a woman in STEM, even if it was sometimes difficult to be the only woman in undergraduate classrooms full of male engineering students. I also find that sometimes I doubt myself and wonder if being a woman in STEM means I need to defend my ideas more and do more legwork before I bring a new idea to the table. But overall, the community and encouragement that I’ve found with other women in STEM and supporting male colleagues far outweighs any downsides. I feel like my voice really matters, because the female voice hasn’t always been heard in science and health tech.

MelissaMy experience has been wholly positive as a woman in tech. Coming from banking initially, I was blown away by how much more progressive the tech industry is. Diversity comes in many shapes and sizes, and I’ve been fortunate to be a part of teams over the years who value and respect diverse perspectives.

CandaceBeing a woman in tech is awesome. Although I am in the minority in most meetings and events, I think it’s a real opportunity to make an impression. I do sometimes find myself suffering from “imposter syndrome” of not feeling qualified enough to be in a room full of amazing people. However, I know I bring a unique background and skill-set which is an asset. I also love the empowering fellow female colleagues I work with!

Ashley: There was always the challenge in going to school for STEM, that it was sort of a boy’s club at the beginning. Examples and datasets geared towards mens interests, that sort of thing. At the same time there were always these super supportive small groups of women who had persevered and could roll their eyes at the unintended sexism and just keep going.

Candace at work
Candace at work. Candace is LifeOmic’s Event Marketing Associate. She came to LifeOmic from higher education, where she worked with and taught college students. She is passionate about events, driving results and building relationships.

LifeOmic: What is the importance of having diversity in STEM teams, in your opinion?

AnnicaTwo heads are always better than one – unless those two heads produce the exact same thoughts.

Jesse: Having a diverse team puts you in a better position to be able to conquer anything. Varying perspectives and experiences are key to success when solving tough problems.

RoryI think it is so important for a few reasons. With more backgrounds, differences and opinions comes more perspective. More perspective will lead us to a product that is well-designed from the backend to the frontend. It will be holistic in its solutioning and its offerings will be unique and innovative. Diversity also enables localisation, which is becoming increasingly important in design. Every experience should feel like it was created for you, keeping in mind who you are, where you live and what existing technology you have. Without diversity in our own offices, we are shutting ourselves off from direct access to important cultural perspectives. The last reason is maybe one of the most important: communication. Technology is how we speak to each other now. For that very reason, it cannot be something built by only one gender or culture.

MelissaI see diversity as an important aspect of a tech team because we are solving sweeping problems, and that requires different perspectives to come together to achieve an optimal solution.

CandaceI don’t think diversity is optional for STEM/tech teams. We live in such a global culture. People have different backgrounds, identities, perspectives and skill-sets and that is what brings new ideas and experiences. However, I also think it’s important for teams to create environments that not only attract diverse talent, but also retain that talent by helping them feel welcomed and truly validated. I believe this will lead to greater innovation and creativity long term.

Melissa in Utah during our winter LifeOmic retreat!
Melissa in Utah during our winter LifeOmic retreat! Melissa is LifeOmic’s Senior Product Manager, working on our Precision Health Cloud platform. Before joining LifeOmic, Melissa led products in the spend analytics, sales, procurement and healthcare spaces. She is most passionate about creating software people love

LifeOmic: What do you do for fun?

“I make time every week to take figure skating lessons, no matter how busy I am.” – Ashley @LifeOmic

AnnicaSki, cook, improve my health and fitness and spend time with my dog!

Jesse: I recently moved by a lake and am looking forward to fishing and kayaking this spring. I love to be outside exploring.

RoryI love to hang out with my dog and spend quality time with friends or family over dinner. I have a passion for trying new food, so going out to eat is one of my favorite things to do. My favorite thing in the world is horseback riding.

PaigeI have a circus world that I escape to! I was an athlete in college (swimming and diving), but when I graduated, I was looking to start something new. I discovered aerial silks a few years later after finding out that an actress I follow on Instagram is also an aerialist. I fell in love with doing acrobatics up in the air. I post all about my circus things on my Instagram account @fromthelabbench.

MelissaMy love of travel began during a semester in Spain in college, and I still enjoy traveling the world with my husband and son to meet new people and experience different cultures. We also spend a lot of time exploring the outdoors through cycling, running and hiking.

CandaceI love to go dancing with friends and learn different styles of dance. I also love traveling and experiencing different cultures. I have been to 10 different countries and hope to add more to the list soon!

AshleyI read a ton, play Dungeons and Dragons, and figure skate.

Paige doing acrobatics while out hiking. Paige is a scientist turned science storyteller. As LifeOmic’s Director of Science Communication and Social Media, she is most passionate about communicating science in ways that inspire people and in ways that anyone can understand.

LifeOmic: What’s the coolest or craziest thing you’ve done “for science”?

Jesse: Hacked (with permission) hundreds of companies and helped them identify and fix their security vulnerabilities.

Rory: Getting into technology instead of remaining in advertising like I expected I would be felt pretty crazy to me at the time.

PaigeOne summer I followed a bat researcher into the field, at night, to catch, tag and release bats! I helped set up the nets and took photos of field technicians holding and taking swab samples from the wings of live bats. This was all while trying to deal with my fear of spiders and ticks while pulling an all-nighter out in the middle of the woods in North Carolina in scrubs and boots that could be sprayed in bleach when the night was over. The bleach step was important so that we didn’t risk spreading a fungus that causes White-nose syndrome, a disease that is endangering many bat species, to another location. I wrote about the experience here

MelissaMy most recent adventure “for science” was completing a 5-day fast with my colleagues at LifeOmic to understand how it would affect my mind and body. Autophagy for the win!

AshleyMade ice cream with liquid nitrogen.

Candace's favorite tech is her fitbit!
Candace’s favorite tech is her fitbit!

LifeOmic: What challenges in healthcare / tech do you hope to see solved in the next 5-10 years?

AnnicaPatients will finally gain control of their own medical records.

JesseI hope to see transparency with patient data while maintaining security. This is a tough problem to solve.

Rory: Accessibility and affordability of quality healthcare.

PaigeThat early genomic profiling become standard in cancer care, and we develop a system so that researchers and physicians at different institutions can easily share data and insights to help solve diseases.

MelissaI would love to figure out how to unify and properly visualize disparate data so that clinicians and researchers can effectively focus on what they do best: helping people fight disease and live healthy lives. We’re working on this problem as an industry, but there are still a lot of barriers. I want clinicians and researchers to not have to worry about access to data so that they can focus on helping people.

CandaceI would love to avoid the doctor’s office experience altogether, if I could, and just have a way for my doctor to get all of the information necessary to treat me via wearables and software!

Ashley Soucar
Ashley Soucar is also new at LifeOmic as a senior mobile engineer. Her background is in mobile app development. She is most passionate about making people’s lives better, even if just a little bit, whether it is through education, exploration or health.

LifeOmic: What are your personal secrets to a long healthspan (time in life spent healthy) and high quality of life?

Jesse: Invest well in anything that separates you from the ground (shoes, bed, yoga mat, etc). Quality over quantity.

RoryMaintaining mental health. It is so important to me to be introspective and reflective of my everyday actions. I want to understand who I am so that I can help myself when I need it. That changes your quality of life dramatically. They always say it is hard, if not impossible, to love someone else if you don’t yet love yourself. When you love yourself, you take care of yourself.

PaigeBecause of a corn allergy, I stay away from most processed foods and anything with corn syrup (sugary drinks, etc.) I also rarely wear makeup or put anything on my face except for lotion due to bad skin allergies. I think these things actually keep me looking young! I also try to exercise at least five days per week and I eat, seriously, 2-5 apples per day!

MelissaGetting a good night’s sleep! There’s nothing more important than clearing your mind and making sure to get a solid 7-8 hours of sleep every night – it sets you up for success before you even start your day.

CandaceI wish I had personal secrets! However, I have always valued sleep. I never was one to pull “all-nighters” or stay up super late. I like an early bedtime in order to feel refreshed each day. I do notice a difference in overall mental health too when I get a good night’s rest.

AshleySurround yourself with people who love you as you are but are at the same time supportive of any changes you want to make in life.

Rory in the office!
Rory in the office! Rory Scout Harlow is a new kid on the block at LifeOmic. She recently joined us as a Mobile Product Designer, for our LIFE Apps. Her background is in UX research and design, for both mobile and web applications. Before coming to LifeOmic, she worked as a senior UX designer for a consulting company in pharmaceuticals, trying to create tools for industry employees to get drugs and treatments through the development processes faster.

LifeOmic: What are your favorite ways to stay healthy and maintain work-life balance?

Jesse: Midday breaks are crucial for me. When I hit a blocker, I force myself to step away and do something completely unrelated for 30 minutes. I have solved so many programming problems while mowing the yard. Giving your mind a rest naturally lets ideas flow more easily. Work smarter, not harder.

RoryI’m taking on fasting! I love to eat healthy foods and I try to always watch the size of my portions. It’s very easy to overeat in this country with the serving sizes we are given. I also like to run and be active when it is warm out. Hiking with my dog is a favorite thing we do.

PaigeYoga! I try to get a daily “me time” yoga session in. I also believe that smart people procrastinate and task switch a lot – it’s my excuse for enjoying netflix shows here and there throughout the day! Like Jesse, I get most of my best ideas when I’m NOT working!

MelissaI go to SWIFT class at Naptown Fitness that always bring a nice blend of cardio and weight training; that’s my favorite way to push myself physically and mentally. My husband and I also take our son on walks in the evenings after work to talk about our day and move a little after dinner.

CandaceFor me, it’s all about balance. I love to go for runs or walks with my dog outside. I also love to go dancing and take various dance classes (ballroom and country two-step are two of my favorites). But part of my work/life balance is enjoying a great meal at my favorite tex-mex restaurant or a glass of wine sometimes and not feeling bad about it.

AshleyI make time every week to take figure skating lessons, no matter how busy I am.

LifeOmic: Favorite Book, Favorite Movie!

Jesse: Left of Boom. Watchdogs 2.

RoryBrain on Fire. Now and Then.

PaigeTied for Gattaca and Tree of Life. The Martian Chronicles by Ray Bradbury.

MelissaI’m a science fiction and fantasy fan, so my favorite book is probably a tie between The Lord of the Rings trilogy by JRR Tolkien and The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy by Douglas Adams. Favorite movie is tough too! I have a special place in my heart for cheesy 80’s movies though.

Candace: 1984 by George Orwell. Gone With the Wind!

AshleyI love almost every book by Mercedes Lackey, though Seven Eves is my favorite sci-fi.

LifeOmic: Favorite Tech!

Jesse, Rory and Melissa: Spotify!

Paige: Google docs and Twitter.



We also want to acknowledge Krisanna Bohall, LifeOmic’s Facility Manager! She helps all of us do our jobs better in a safe, organized and helpful environment focused on customer service! She has also been known to send inspiring notes and swag to our LIFE users!

Come work with us!