Meet Nina Chhita, the Artist Celebrating Diverse Female Scientists With Her Instagram Illustrations

Kenya's Wangari Maathai isn't a household name, but she should be.
Kenya's Wangari Maathai isn't a household name, but she should be.
Nina Chhita

By day, Nina Chhita is a medical writer, developing educational resources that keep healthcare clinicians up to speed on the latest research in addiction medicine. But in her free time, she runs the Instagram account @nina.draws.scientists, where she posts her illustrations of women in STEM from all over the world.

Chhita's illustration of the 21 female Nobel Laureates awarded prizes in physics, chemistry, physiology/medicine, or economic sciences.Nina Chhita

When Chhita (who's now based in Vancouver) lived in London, she planned to learn about the city by visiting some of its blue plaques—hundreds of markers that honor notable people and the buildings where they lived and worked—and drawing their subjects.

“Having studied biology at university, I was particularly interested in learning about scientists. It was quite exciting to experience where the scientists I had learned about lived and had potentially made their discoveries,” she tells Mental Floss. “I soon realized that I didn’t know as much about scientists who were women.”

So in 2017, she decided to launch an Instagram account solely dedicated to sharing their images and stories. Not only do her posts teach people how these women have contributed to science, but the illustrations themselves help celebrate diversity and buck stereotypes about who belongs in STEM.

Some of Chhita's artworks reveal the hardships of being a woman in STEM.Nina Chhita

“Cognitive bias impacts many aspects of our careers. I hope that showing the faces of women in science plays a part in eliminating that bias by underscoring that there is no ‘type’ of person that should be pursuing science,” Chhita says. “It’s also important for people pursuing science to have role models—both to see themselves in that field and to know the jobs that are available in the field. Of course, showing the representation is a piece of the tapestry to diversify science.”

In addition to discovering new scientists through her own research, Chhita draws inspiration from what’s going on in the world. An illustration from May 2020, for example, featured Canada’s chief public health officer and other chief medical officers who have led the charge against COVID-19 in Canada.

Chhita, who lives in Vancouver, honors leaders fighting the pandemic in Canada.Nina Chhita

Her current mission is to focus specifically on women of color, who are “continually neglected from educational and promotional materials.” She recently posted a collage of inspiring Black birdwatchers to celebrate Black Birders Week, and she’s also compiled slideshows on “Black Women Who Revolutionized Medicine” and “Black Women Who Should Be in Our Science Textbooks,” among others.

“Illustrating the scientists for the post ‘Black Women Who Should Be in Our Science Textbooks’ was such an enjoyable process. I discovered so many scientists who had interesting lives and ­had made tremendous contributions to science,” Chhita says. “It was tough whittling the list down to six. However, this does mean that I have plenty of scientists to illustrate to keep me busy!”

Katherine Johnson's work for NASA was largely unrecognized until the 2016 film Hidden Figures.Nina Chhita

Be sure to follow Chhita on Instagram to see more of her artwork and celebrate the unsung female heroes of STEM.

Mental Floss's Three-Day Sale Includes Deals on Apple AirPods, Sony Wireless Headphones, and More


During this weekend's three-day sale on the Mental Floss Shop, you'll find deep discounts on products like AirPods, Martha Stewart’s bestselling pressure cooker, and more. Check out the best deals below.

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You may not know it by looking at them, but these tiny earbuds by Apple offer HDR sound, 30 hours of noise cancellation, and powerful bass, all through Bluetooth connectivity. These trendy, sleek AirPods will even read your messages and allow you to share your audio with another set of AirPods nearby.

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For the listener who likes a traditional over-the-ear headphone, this set by Sony will give you all the same hands-free calling, extended battery power, and Bluetooth connectivity as their tiny earbud counterparts. They have a swivel folding design to make stashing them easy, a built-in microphone for voice commands and calls, and quality 1.18-inch dome drivers for dynamic sound quality.

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3. Sony Xb650bt Wireless On-Ear Bluetooth Headphones; $46


This Sony headphone model stands out for its extra bass and the 30 hours of battery life you get with each charge. And in between your favorite tracks, you can take hands-free calls and go seamlessly back into the music.

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4. Martha Stewart 8-quart Stainless-Steel Pressure Cooker; $65

Martha Stewart

If you’re thinking of taking the plunge and buying a new pressure cooker, this 8-quart model from Martha Stewart comes with 14 presets, a wire rack, a spoon, and a rice measuring cup to make delicious dinners using just one appliance.

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If you're obsessive about cleanliness, it's time to lose the vacuum cord and opt for this untethered model from JASHEN. Touting a 4.3-star rating from Amazon, the JASHEN cordless vacuum features a brushless motor with strong suction, noise optimization, and a convenient wall mount for charging and storage.

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This EvaChill personal air conditioner is an eco-friendly way to cool yourself down in any room of the house. You can set it up at your work desk at home, and in just a few minutes, this portable cooling unit can drop the temperature by 59º. All you need to do is fill the water tank and plug in the USB cord.

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7. Gourmia Gcm7800 Brewdini 5-Cup Cold Brew Coffee Maker; $120


The perfect cup of cold brew can take up to 12 hours to prepare, but this Gourmia Cold Brew Coffee Maker can do the job in just a couple of minutes. It has a strong suction that speeds up brew time while preserving flavor in up to five cups of delicious cold brew at a time.

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Parking sensors are amazing, but a lot of cars require a high trim to access them. You can easily upgrade your car—and parking skills—with this solar-powered parking sensor. It will give you audio and visual alerts through your phone for the perfect parking job every time.

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10. Liz: The Smart Self-Cleaning Bottle With UV Sterilization; $46


Reusable water bottles are convenient and eco-friendly, but they’re super inconvenient to get inside to clean. This smart water bottle will clean itself with UV sterilization to eliminate 99.9 percent of viruses and bacteria. That’s what makes it clean, but the single-tap lid for temperature, hydration reminders, and an anti-leak functionality are what make it smart.

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Prices subject to change.

This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors. Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.

Find That Perfect Paint Color With This Real-Life Photoshop Eyedropper Tool

Nix Sensor
Nix Sensor

If you're looking to spruce up the interior design of your home or just need a specific shade of paint for your latest craft project, you’re going to love the precision that comes with the Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor. Think of it like your own real-life Photoshop eyedropper tool that works to identify specific colors and then recommends the exact brand of paint that replicates it. And this weekend, you can get one for 30 percent off.

The Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor comes pre-calibrated right out of the box, so all you have to really do is point it at the color you want and the device will scan it and come up with potential paint matches from brands like Benjamin Moore and Sherwin-Williams. The Nix works through a free app on your phone for even easier access to the paint products you need.

There are obvious ways a tool like Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor might be helpful for a professional who works with color, but it can be surprisingly handy for everyday folks as well. If you spot a really eye-catching shade of blue on the side of a package or on a friend's couch, you can instantly scan it, store the information, and find the exact paint tone next time you want to redo your bedroom.

The opportunities are endless with the Nix Mini 2 Color Sensor, and you can get yours through September 20 for only $70.

Nix Mini Color Sensor V2 - $69.99

See Deal

Prices subject to change. This article contains affiliate links to products selected by our editors.

Mental Floss may receive a commission for purchases made through these links. If you haven't received your voucher or have a question about your order, contact the Mental Floss shop here.