Congratulations on posting such an interesting question. Here are a few sites that address this issue;
Here is the story of a woman with interests much like yours, who was able to do what you are seeking to do: http://epicenter.stanford.edu/story/babs-carryer-carnegie-mellon-university
Here are two other articles which also might be helpful:
Send thank you notes to those who help you. Please keep me posted. I would like to follow your progress!! Best of luck!