Grad Member Spotlight: Becky LaCroix

SWE spotlight pic_BeckyBecky LaCroix
PhD Candidate, Biomedical Engineering
Yale University

Becky is a founding member of the Yale SWE section. She has served in many key roles including section outreach chair (2014-15), section vice president (2016-present) and co-director (2015-17) of Yale’s GradSWE Committee. In every role, Becky has led the Yale SWE section to grow sustainably through establishing lasting programs and leadership structure. Example programs include outreach programs with New Haven K-12 students several times per year, large annual Grad-oriented events such as a Gender Bias in STEM workshop, and collaborative events with other student groups such as Women in Science at Yale, STEMentors, and League of Black Scientists. Becky has a bright future in SWE.

During her time as vice president of Yale SWE, Becky led her team to apply for and receive several awards including the Outstanding New Section (silver level) and outreach awards at WE16 and the outstanding communications award at the 2017 Region F conference. For her research, Becky was recognized with an honorable mention from the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program. Congratulations, Becky, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

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

I am working towards my PhD in biomedical engineering and expect to graduate by the spring of 2019.

Give a brief explanation of your research.
I study signaling pathways involved in cancer cell migration. Our lab has developed tools to tap into these pathways at specific locations in order to untangle potential feedback loops between different proteins. We hope that doing so will help us to better understand how cells make the decision to migrate in response to extracellular cues.

What do you want to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
I really enjoy working with undergraduate students, so I’m considering a career in either teaching or academic administration.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
In my free time, I enjoy cooking, hiking, and playing video games (the games in the Civilization series are my favorite). I’m also a member of the Yale Taekwondo Club!

What’s a fun fact about you?

I have a pet freshwater snail that I keep on my desk at work. He cheers me up when my experiments aren’t working.


Grad Member Spotlight: Lisa Cervia


Lisa Cervia

PhD student, Biomedical Engineering

Duke University

Lisa first joined SWE as a freshman biomedical engineering major at Boston University. She is now a biomedical engineering PhD candidate at Duke University. Throughout the past 8 years, she has participated in many SWE outreach events and mentoring programs. She is now taking on more leadership roles in SWE and is working to help with the graduate mentoring program and graduate SWE planning for WE 17.

Lisa has received many awards for her research in biomedical engineering. As a graduate student, she received the BMES Innovation and Career Development award as well as Duke University’s Pharmacological Sciences Training Program award. She has also received numerous scholarships and research awards as an undergraduate student. Congratulations, Lisa, on all you’ve accomplished! Keep up the great work!

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

I am in the PhD program in Biomedical Engineering at Duke University. I expect to graduate within the next year and will be looking for postdoc positions.

Give a brief explanation of your research.
Currently, I design solutions to improve methods of gene delivery. Gene therapy has great potential to transform the treatment of many diseases, but there is a great need for more efficient and safe methods of gene delivery. I work at both uncovering the mechanisms by which non-viral methods of gene delivery introduce DNA to the cell and utilizing these mechanisms to develop strategies that improve efficiency, such that these methods of delivery can be more widely implemented for clinical applications.

What do you hope to do with your degree? What are your career goals?
I aspire to contribute to the growing field of Biomedical Engineering as a professor at a major research university. My ultimate goal is not only to become a tenured professor, but to help to nurture and mold this field into one that is inclusive and reaches out to other disciplines for collaboration. I want to serve as a role model, educating young students about what biomedical engineering entails, showing them that they have the potential to contribute to such a field, and to set aside many of the stereotypes surrounding engineering.

What are some of your hobbies? What do you do in your free time?
I have danced ballet for 23 years.

What’s a fun fact about you?
I am the founder and president of the Biomedical Engineering Society Graduate Section at Duke University. This year, we hosted the first annual on-campus Duke BMES conference. The conference included a total of fourteen talks by esteemed BME Professors, a lunchtime poster session that included presentations by postdocs, graduate students and undergraduate students as well as a plenary session and reception with invited speaker. See picture of event below.

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

SWE Webinar: Writing for Publication

The holidays are around the corner, but before you head off into finals and break, we have one more webinar this year that will help you get tackle the challenges of graduate school.

Pressured to write papers and don’t know how to get started? Learn to knock down the barriers to publishing research. Topics covered include: the purpose of a publication, choosing a journal, authorship issues, planning; parts of the paper and their importance, display of data, and specifics of effective scientific writing. This is part 1 from a popular talk at WE13 and we’re giving folks who were not able to make it a chance to attend.

Webinar Date: 10AM ET on Wednesday December 4th

Speaker Bio:

Donna L. Vogel, M.D., Ph.D. is the Director of the Professional Development Office,Johns Hopkins Medical Institutions. She graduated from Bryn Mawr College, and the Medical Scientist Training Program at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine. Her Ph.D. is in developmental biology, and her clinical subspecialty is endocrinology. She worked at NIH for 25 years, initially as a clinical fellow conducting clinical and basic research. Dr. Vogel managed a grant  program for 13 years, and then became the first Director of an office dedicated to enhancing the professional experience for postdoctoral fellows. She joined the Professional Development Office in 2007. She has an ongoing interest in career development and mentoring for students, postdocs, and early-career scientists.

Registration Link:

Fellowships and Scholarships for Graduate Students

Despite the sequester, there are many government and non-government agencies that are providing funding for graduate level research. A fellowship can provide untold advantages including prestige, professional connections, travel and research funds, and of course an increased living stipend. Below is a list of open STEM fellowships with fall deadlines. For more information about each fellowship click of on the corresponding link.

American Fellowships Support for Women Doctoral and Post Doc Candidates

American Fellowships support women scholars who are completing dissertations, planning research leave from accredited institutions, or preparing research for publication. Applicants must be U.S. citizens or permanent residents. Postdoctoral Research Leave Fellowships offer funding for women in tenure-track faculty positions in support of their earning tenure and further promotions by enabling them to spend a year pursuing independent research.

Application Deadline: 11/15/2013


American Heart Association Predoctoral Fellowship

The objective of this fellowship is to help students initiate careers in cardiovascular and stroke research by providing research assistance and training.

Application Deadline: 1/2014


Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship Service Program

 Science, Mathematics and Research for Transformation (SMART) Scholarship for Service Program. The purpose is to promote the education, recruitment and retention of outstanding undergraduate and graduate students in science, mathematics, and engineering studies; the DoD is also interested in supporting the education of future scientists and engineers in a number of interdisciplinary areas. The SMART Program will allow individuals to acquire an education in exchange for a period of employment with the Department of Defense.

Application Deadline: 12/16/2013

The National GEM Consortium Graduate Fellowships in Science and Engineering

The GEM Fellowship provides a unique and powerful connection to a national network of universities and employers. This partnership promotes the participation of underrepresented groups in post-graduate science and engineering education and the technical workforce.

Application Deadline: 11/15/2013

Ford Foundation Dissertation Fellowships

The dissertation fellowships provide one year of support for individuals working to complete a dissertation leading to a Doctor of Philosophy (Ph.D.) or Doctor of Science (Sc.D.) degree. Dissertation fellowships will be awarded in a national competition administered by the National Research Council (NRC) on behalf of the Ford Foundation.

 Application Deadline: 11/15/2013

 Hertz Foundation The Graduate Fellowship Award

Eligible applicants for Hertz Fellowships must be students of the applied physical, biological and engineering sciences who are citizens or permanent residents of the United States of America, and who are willing to morally commit to make their skills available to the United States in time of national emergency

 Application Deadline: 11/1/2013

NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP)

The purpose of the NSF Graduate Research Fellowship Program (GRFP) is to help ensure the vitality and diversity of the scientific and engineering workforce of the United States. The program recognizes and supports outstanding graduate students who are pursuing research-based master’s and doctoral degrees in fields within NSF’s mission. The GRFP provides three years of support for the graduate education of individuals who have demonstrated their potential for significant achievements in science and engineering research.

Application Deadline: 11/4/2013

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate Fellowship Program

National Defense Science and Engineering Graduate (NDSEG) Fellowships are awarded to applicants who will pursue a doctoral degree in, or closely related to, an area of DoD interest within one of the fifteen following disciplines:aeronautical and astronautical engineering; biosciences, chemical engineering; chemistry; cognitive, neural, and behavioral sciences; electrical engineering; geosciences; civil engineering; computer and computational sciences; materials science and engineering; mathematics; mechanical engineering; naval architecture and ocean engineering; oceanography; and physics.

Application Deadline: 12/20/2013



Conference Session Interest Survey WE13

WE12: Adjunct Faculty Postions

While many people pursue academic careers as full-time, tenure-track faculty, colleges and universities also employ significant numbers of adjunct faculty, either full time or part time. Some people use these adjunct positions as a pathway into a more permanent academic position, while for others they are a long-term second job or a temporary part of their career path. In this panel, three women who have held a variety of adjunct positions spoke about their experiences and gave advice to those interested in adjunct positions.
In the panel’s discussion, the speakers highlighted that someone who wants to be an adjunct needs to love teaching, since that is the primary role of adjunct faculty. Even at a research university, an adjunct position is not intended to be a research role, although it may allow someone to make contacts with those in research labs. Furthermore, adjuncts need to be flexible and able to respond quickly. All three of the women had, on several occasions, only learned of an opportunity to teach a few days before the class started. And finally, they emphasized that they pay scale typically was not very high, and that someone who expects to earn a large paycheck from teaching will be very disappointed. However, all three of the panelists found their experiences teaching as an adjunct to be personally rewarding.
Diane L. Peters, P.E., Ph.D. is currently a Senior Control Systems Engineer at LMS International. She has taught as an adjunct at both a community college and a regional university.
Anne M. Lucietto is currently a graduate student at Purdue University. She has extensive industry experience, and has taught as an adjunct for over 25 years at a variety of colleges and universities. Most recently, she has been developing and delivering on-line courses in the community college environment.
Cheryl Hanzlik, formerly employed by Xerox Corporation, is a confocal microscopy technician and adjunct faculty member at Rochester Institute of Technology.