Women in the Sciences: Addressing Common Challenges

Chinonye Nnakwe (PhD'09, UChicago) Moderator, Director of Graduate Diversity Recruitment for the Office of the Provost at the University of Chicago

Chinonye "Chi-Chi" Nnakwe is the Director of Graduate Diversity Recruitment at the University of Chicago.   In her position, she collaborates with faculty, students and administrators in all divisions and professional schools to create, enhance, revise and execute a strategy for recruiting students from underrepresented backgrounds.  In addition to her outreach work, Dr. Nnakwe also builds curricula and pursues research projects that address educational disparities among underrepresented groups in higher education.  Dr. Nnakwe received her B. Sc. in Biochemistry with Distinction in the Curriculum from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and her Ph. D. in Pathology, with a concentration in Cancer Biology and Yeast Genetics from the University of Chicago.  

Melina Hale, (PhD'98, UChicago) Professor, Department of Organismal Biology and Anatomy at the University of Chicago; Dean for Faculty Affairs, Division of Biological Sciences

Melina Hale is a Professor at the University of Chicago and PI and Program Director for the University of Chicago’s NSF-sponsored IGERT (Integrative Graduate Education and Research Traineeship) program.  She was named a National Academies Education Fellow in the Life Sciences for the 2009-2010 fellowship year and has participated in national discussions on reform of university education in the biological sciences. In addition to research in neurobiology, biomechanics, and evolutionary biology, she teaches physiology and anatomy to undergraduates, medical students and graduate students as part of several courses at the University of Chicago and is active in outreach to local schools. As part of the IGERT program, she has also been developing programming to introduce graduate students in STEM fields to learner-focused scientific teaching and to effective outreach models.

Susan Kidwell (PhD'82, Yale), William Rainey Harper Professor in the Department of Geophysical Sciences at the University of Chicago

Susan Kidwell's research focuses on stratigraphic geology and taphonomy, or how physical and biological processes determine the quality of the fossil record. She is co-author of a 2005 National Academy of Sciences report that shows how geological techniques could help address major ecological challenges confronting society today. A recipient of the Paleontological Society's Charles Schuchert Award, Professor Kidwell is is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.

Angela V. Olinto (PhD'87, MIT), Homer J. Livingston Professor, Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics at the University of Chicago

Angela V. Olinto is Professor in the Department of Astronomy and Astrophysics and the Enrico Fermi Institute, and member of the Kavli Institute for Cosmological Physics, at the University of Chicago. She is presently serving her second term as Department Chair. Olinto’s research interests are in theoretical astrophysics, particle and nuclear astrophysics, and cosmology. She received her Ph.D. in Physics from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology for work on the physics of quark stars. At Fermilab, she worked on inflationary theory and cosmic magnetic fields. More recently she has focused on understanding the origin of the highest energy cosmic particles, cosmic rays, gamma U rays and neutrinos. She is a member of the international collaboration of the Pierre Auger Observatory and the EUSO space mission, both designed to discover the origin of the highest energy cosmic rays.

Lauren Tompkins (PhD'11, UC Berkeley), Postdoctoral Fellow, Fermi Institute, ATLAS Group, High Energy Physics

Lauren Tompkins is a particle physicist at the University of Chicago's Enrico Fermi Institute. She is primarily interested in jet substructure techniques, such as quark-gluon tagging, as well as physics measurements related to the nature of electroweak symmetry breaking. In addition to her research, Tompkins participates in several outreach activities related to women in the sciences. She brought "Expanding Your Horizons" to Chicago. The program is a symposium for middle school girls showing them the diverse experiences science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) careers have to offer. She was a 2012 lecturer for the Enrico Fermi Institute’s summer internship program and a coordinator of UC Berkeley's Society for Women in the Physical Sciences.