Grad Member Spotlight: Forough Ghahramani

forough_ghahramaniForough Ghahramani

PhD student, Higher Education Management

University of Pennsylvania

Forough is passionate about SWE at the local, regional, and national level. As a collegiate, she was a member of the Villanova University section where she had a leadership role. As a professional, she held regional leadership positions in Region F (New England), led SWE partnership with AT&T to develop a women in engineering documentary while in Chicago, and has served on the SWE Public Policy Committee. In addition, she has served as a Faculty Advisor for the DeVry Philadelphia section. Forough also championed partnership with SWE NJ and Verizon for women in Engineering college events and Introduce a Girl to Engineering high school event, and led the creation of a multimedia Women in Technology Leadership tool working with Verizon women leaders around the globe and NJ women College students. Her involvement in SWE shows that SWE Grad Community members are at all stages of their professional careers.

Forough has received many awards during her SWE career. Most recently, she was selected for SWE’s Inaugural Academic Leadership for Women in Engineering Institute in 2015. Past awards include, HP Software Excellence, DeVry University PRIDE, and the Verizon Foundation Women in Engineering. For her work in public policy, she has also been named as one of the Women Impacting Public Policy Woman to Watch and received the Euro-American Women’s Council Artemis Award for contributions and advocacy for the future generation of women leaders in STEM fields. Congratulations, Forough, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

What is your degree program (MS/PhD, department)? When do you expect to graduate?

My education includes a doctorate in Higher Education Management from University of Pennsylvania  (Officially completed degree August 2016), an MBA in Marketing from DePaul University, MS in Computer Science from Villanova University, and BS in Mathematics with a minor in Biology from Pennsylvania State University.

Give a brief explanation of your research.
My research interests include “bioinformatics, the challenges and opportunities associated with the convergence of biotechnology and information technology in accelerating biological research”, and “institutional factors for promoting pathways for women innovators in science, engineering and technology fields”.

My dissertation focused on the qualitative exploration of the ways in which the various degrees of entrepreneurialism and commercialization shape female graduate student training and socialization across science technology and engineering fields.  This study explores institutional conditions at three selective and private U.S. research universities that cultivate innovation and entrepreneurship in graduate students to introduce patents, start companies, and/or work in leadership roles in start-ups and corporations.  A focus of the study is on institutional factors important to women with doctorate degrees in the STEM fields – science, engineering, technology and mathematics.  Critical factors in each institution’s innovation and entrepreneurship ecosystem are explored, including the institution’s role in building innovation and entrepreneurial pathways, their commitment and resources for innovation and entrepreneurship, their culture of innovation and entrepreneurship, and their commitment to diversity and inclusion for increasing participation of women in innovation.

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
My short term goal includes an Executive Leadership position in Academia, preferably to apply my doctoral research findings in an innovation ecosystem of a research institution. My long-term career goals include Chancellor, Provost level, and college president.  I hope to be able to make an impact on students and increase the number of women in STEM.

I have recently joined the Rutgers Discovery Informatics Institute as Associate Director. In this role, I provide leadership for the operation of RDI2, internal and external partnerships, as well as in collaboration with the RDI2 Director and AVP of Economic Development, continue to develop the strategy for the Institute.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
My hobbies include combining my dedication to training of young women leaders in STEM fields with a passion for innovation and entrepreneurship and advocacy. I have concentrated volunteer efforts on developing programs to mentor women in STEM and advocating for support from leading policy makers for women in business and STEM education initiatives.

During my free time, I enjoy bicycling and hiking with my husband and spending time with family, including my two children.

What’s a fun fact about you?
I love bicycling. My memorable experiences include bicycling through Vermont and the Coast of Oregon, and most recently my husband and I hiked through  the Alps through Austria and Northern Italy August 2016
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