Honoring some of our female faculty members for International Day of Women and Girls in Science

women at microscopes

According to data from the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), only about 30% of female students globally choose to pursue science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM)-related fields in higher education. The reason? UNESCO suggests “long-standing biases and gender stereotypes are steering girls and women away from science-related fields.” 

At Case Western Reserve University, our female faculty members work each day to shatter these stereotypes and encourage the next generation of women to enter STEM fields. In recognition of International Day of Women and Girls in Science today, Feb. 11—a date adopted by the UN General Assembly in 2015—we’re highlighting some of the many achievements they’ve made this past year.

“In my experience as a scientist, I have been inspired and have learned so much from my female colleagues and mentors,” said Joy K. Ward, dean of the College of Arts and Sciences. “Women scientists have exhibited leadership, brilliance and perseverance that has fostered the careers of numerous other scientists, while simultaneously making profound contributions that have been cutting-edge across all areas of science.”

The following examples represent a handful of the recent successes achieved by female faculty from Case School of Engineering and the College of Arts and Sciences. 

  • Radhika Atit, professor of biology, is the principal investigator on a five-year National Institute of Health R01 award for $2.6 million to study the role of fat cells as a new player in skin fibrosis in collaboration with Valerie Horsley, PhD, at Yale University.
  • Lauren Calandruccio, associate professor in the Department of Psychological Sciences, recently received a grant from the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association to create the Innovative Mentoring and Professional Advancement through Cultural Training (IMPACT) program. IMPACT is a one-year program, initiated in 2020, that provides formal mentoring to undergraduates in communication sciences from underrepresented backgrounds.
  • Jennifer Carter, associate professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering and Faculty Director of the Swagelok Center for the Surface Analysis of Materials, received an NSF Major Research Instrumentation Grant to fund a new variable pressure Scanning Electron Microscope. The new instrument will allow researchers to explore the fundamental materials science necessary to understand and improve devices ranging from batteries to high-temperature sensors and actuators to thin-film solar cells. 
  • Nicole Crown, assistant professor in the Department of Biology, received an NIH grant funding her work on how chromosome rearrangements impact fertility by disrupting chromosome pairing during meiosis.
  • Kathryn Daltorio, assistant professor in the Department Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, received a Grainger Foundation Frontiers of Engineering Grant for the Advancement of Interdisciplinary Research from the National Academy of Engineering to support work on autonomous responsive control of modular robots for confined spaces. In 2019, Daltorio was one of 25 recipients of the Young Investigator Award from the Office of Naval Research.
  • Sarah Diamond, associate professor in the Department of Biology, was named the section lead on a special report coming out of a collaboration between the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (IPCC) and the Intergovernmental Science-Policy Platform on Biodiversity and Ecosystem Services (IPBES). She will lead a six-person panel within a group of 50 experts contributing to the report.
  • Christine Duval, assistant professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, is among 75 scientists nationally to receive funding for research as part of the Department of Energy’s Early Career Research Program. Her research is focused on pioneering a faster and more sustainable means for increasing the national supply of radiotherapies for cancer treatment.
  • Jessica Fox, associate professor of biology, was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered to discuss her new discovery that explains why it is so hard to swat a housefly.
  • Burcu Gurkan, the Nord Distinguished Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was named a Fellow for Scialog: Negative Emissions Science. She joins nearly 50 promising early-career scientists taking up the pressing challenge of greenhouse gases accumulating in earth’s atmosphere and oceans.
  • Lydia Kisley, the Warren E. Rupp Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics, was selected to participate in the 2020-21 Scialog Chemical Machinery of the Cell fellowship, sponsored by the Research Corporation for Science Advancement and the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation.
  • Ya-Ting Liao in the George B. Mayer Assistant Professor in Urban and Environmental Studies in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was awarded an NSF Early CAREER Award for a project focused on understanding the role of buoyancy flow for accurate and robust scale modeling of upward flame spread.
  • Julie Renner, the Climo Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, was awarded an NSF Early CAREER Award for a project focused on establishing a fundamental understanding of biomolecules assembled at interfaces such that smart, tunable, biocompatible surfaces can be designed with desirable biomaterial properties.
  • Clare Rimnac, Distinguished University Professor and the Wilbert J. Austin Professor of Engineering in the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering, was was named among the American Society Metals International Class of 2020 Fellows in recognition of her “sustained research excellence in orthopedic biomechanics and biomaterials, particularly degradation of ultra-high molecular weight polyethylene and materials performance of implants and bone.”
  • Pallavi Tiwari, assistant professor in the Department of Biomedical Engineering, was recognized by Johnson & Johnson as a Women in STEM2D Scholar for her cutting-edge research in the field of computational imaging, artificial intelligence and machine learning to address some of the most critical clinical problems in brain tumors.
  • Joy K. Ward, dean of the College of Art and Sciences, was named a fellow to American Association for the Advancement of Science for her research on how plants respond to changing atmospheric carbon dioxide over geologic and contemporary time.
  • Elisabeth Werner, professor of mathematics, applied mathematics and statistics, was chosen as a 2020 Simon Fellow, which grants up to a semester-long leave from the classroom for research. She worked at the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing in Berkeley and the Hausdorff Research Institute for Mathematics in Bonn, Germany.
  • Duval, Gurkan and Renner were invited to publish their research in the special “Women in Science: Chemistry” issue of the journal, “Frontiers in Chemistry.” 

In addition, female faculty from the College of Arts and Sciences and Case School of Engineering were responsible for bringing millions of dollars in grants to the university in 2020.

Is there a faculty member whose work you’d like us to recognize? Send us your submissions to case-daily@case.edu

“The International Day of Women and Girls in Science provides an important opportunity to not only recognize the invaluable contributions women have made in the sciences, but also to encourage the next generation of women to consider a career in STEM,” said Ragu Balakrishnan, Charles H. Phipps Dean, Case School of Engineering. “As scholars and researchers, we realize the extraordinary benefits that come from broader participation in engineering. As educators, we have an obligation to create inclusive learning environments that makes science, technology, engineering and math accessible to all.”

(From The Daily, 2/11/2021)