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Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine
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Past Events

2015 Committee Meeting
Beckman Center
Irvine, CA
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2014 Committee Meeting
Keck Center
Washington, DC

2014 Committee Meeting
Beckman Center
Irvine, CA

Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia - Summary of a Conference Report Dissemination Event
NAS 125

2101 Constitution Ave, NW, Washington, DC 20418
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More past events...

Contact Us
Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine
Keck Center
500 5th Street NW
Washington, DC 20001
Tel: 202.334.1737
Fax: 202.334.2290


CWSEM Member Biographies

Rita R. Colwell [NAS]*, Chair
Distinguished University Professor
University of Maryland, College Park, and
Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health

Rita Colwell is Distinguished University Professor both at the University of Maryland at College Park and at Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Senior Advisor and Chairman Emeritus, Canon US Life Sciences, Inc., and President and CEO of CosmosID, Inc. Her interests are focused on global infectious diseases, water, and health, and she is currently developing an international network to address emerging infectious diseases and water issues, including safe drinking water for both the developed and developing world. Colwell served as the 11th Director of the National Science Foundation, 1998-2004. In her capacity as NSF Director, she served as Co-chair of the Committee on Science of the National Science and Technology Council. Colwell has held many advisory positions in the U.S. Government, nonprofit science policy organizations, and private foundations, as well as in the international scientific research community. She is a nationally-respected scientist and educator, and has authored or co-authored 17 books and more than 750 scientific publications. She produced the award-winning film, Invisible Seas, and has served on editorial boards of numerous scientific journals. Before going to NSF, Colwell was President of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute and Professor of Microbiology and Biotechnology at the University Maryland. She was also a member of the National Science Board from 1984 to 1990. Colwell has previously served as Chairman of the Board of Governors of the American Academy of Microbiology and also as President of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Washington Academy of Sciences, the American Society for Microbiology, the Sigma Xi National Science Honorary Society, and the International Union of Microbiological Societies. She is a member of the National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Swedish Academy of Sciences, Stockholm, the Royal Society of Canada, and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and the American Philosophical Society. She is Immediate Past-President of the American Institute of Biological Sciences (AIBS). Colwell has also been awarded 55 honorary degrees from institutions of higher education and received numerous awards. Born in Beverly, Massachusetts, Dr. Colwell holds a B.S. in Bacteriology and an M.S. in Genetics, from Purdue University, and a Ph.D. in Oceanography from the University of Washington.

Alice M. Agogino [NAE]
Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering
University of California at Berkeley

Alice M. Agogino is the Roscoe and Elizabeth Hughes Professor of Mechanical Engineering and an affiliated faculty at the University of California, Berkeley (UCB) Haas School of Business. She also directs the Berkeley Expert Systems Technology Laboratory and the Berkeley Instructional Technology Studio. She has served in a number of administrative positions at UCB including associate dean of engineering and faculty assistant to the executive vice chancellor and provost in educational development and technology. She continues as principal investigator for the National Engineering Education Delivery System and the digital libraries of courseware in science, mathematics, engineering, and technology. She received a BS in mechanical engineering from the University of New Mexico (1975), an MS in mechanical engineering (1978) from the UCB, and Ph.D. from the Department of Engineering-Economic Systems at Stanford University (1984). She is a member of the Association of Women in Science and was awarded the NSF Director's Award for Distinguished Teaching Scholars in 2004. She served as a member of the COSEPUP Committee on Women in Academic Science and Engineering. She is a Council member of the National Academy of Engineering.

Joan W. Bennett [NAS]
Professor, Department of Plant Biology and Pathology
Associate Vice President, Office for Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics
Rutgers University

Joan W. Bennett is a professor in Department of Plant Biology and Pathology and the associate vice president for The Office for Promotion of Women in Science, Engineering and Mathematics at Rutgers University. She is a past president of the American Society for Microbiology and a member of the National Academy of Sciences. Bennett has done work in fungal genetics as well as in women’s studies. She taught a popular course Biology of Women beginning in 1976 while she was at Tulane University (1971-2006). She is currently a leader of her institution’s NSF ADVANCE project on women faculty. Bennett earned a bachelor’s degree in biology and history from Upsala College, and a master’s and doctorate degree in botany from the University of Chicago.

Jeremy M. Berg [IOM]
Associate Senior Vice Chancellor for Science Strategy and Planning (Health Sciences)
Professor, Computational and Systems Biology
University of Pittsburgh

Jeremy M. Berg moved to his present position in Pittsburgh in July 2012 with his wife Wendie Berg,M.D, Ph.D., a leading breast imaging researcher, now at Magee-Womens Hospital and the University of Pittsburgh. Prior to coming to Pittsburgh, Dr. Berg served as director of the National Institute of General Medical Sciences (NIGMS) at NIH from November 2003 to June 2011. There, he oversaw a $2 billion budget that funded basic research in the areas of cell biology, biophysics, genetics, developmental biology, pharmacology, physiology, biological chemistry, bioinformatics and computational biology. At NIH, he was a founding member of the NIH working group on Women in Biomedical Careers. Before moving to NIH, Berg directed the Institute for Basic Biomedical Sciences at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine in Baltimore, MD, where he also served as professor and director of the department of biophysics and biophysical chemistry. Berg received B.S. and M.S. degrees in chemistry from Stanford University in 1980, a Ph.D. in chemistry from Harvard University in 1985, and completed a postdoctoral fellowship in the department of biophysics at Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. He and Wendie have three children.

Robert J. Birgeneau [NAS]
Chancellor Emeritus
University of California, Berkeley

Robert J. Birgeneau was the Chancellor of the University of California, Berkeley from September 2004 through May 2013. An internationally distinguished physicist, Birgeneau is a leader in higher education and is well known for his commitment to diversity and equity in the academic community. Before coming to Berkeley, Birgeneau served four years as President of the University of Toronto. He previously was Dean of the School of Science at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, where he spent 25 years on the faculty. Before joining MIT, he was a member of the technical staff at Bell Laboratories from 1968 to 1975. Birgeneau is a fellow of the US National Academy of Sciences, the Royal Society of London, the American Philosophical Society, the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and other scholarly societies. He has received many awards for teaching as well as research on the fundamental properties of materials. Birgeneau is also the leader of the Lincoln Project, an initiative of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences both to advocate for the importance of public colleges and universities and to devise strategies to reverse the progressive disinvestment in public higher education by government. A Toronto native, Birgeneau received his B.Sc. in mathematics from the University of Toronto in 1963 and Ph.D. in physics from Yale University in 1966.

Jennifer Chayes
Distinguished Scientist, and Managing Director
Microsoft Research New England

Jennifer Chayes is a Distinguished Scientist and the Managing Director of Microsoft Research New England in Cambridge, Massachusetts, which she co-founded in July 2008, and Microsoft Research New York City, which she co-founded in 2012. Before this, she was Research Area Manager for Mathematics, Theoretical Computer Science and Cryptography at Microsoft Research Redmond. Chayes joined Microsoft Research in 1997, when she co-founded the Theory Group. Her research areas include phase transitions in discrete mathematics and computer science, structural and dynamical properties of self-engineered networks, and algorithmic game theory. She is the co-author of over 125 scientific papers and the co-inventor of more than 30 patents.

Chayes has many ties to the academic community. She was for many years Professor of Mathematics at UCLA. She serves on numerous institute boards, advisory committees and editorial boards, including the Turing Award Selection Committee of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Board of Trustees of the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute, and the Institute for Computational and Experimental Research in Mathematics, the Advisory Boards of the Center for Discrete Mathematics and Computer Science, the Howard Hughes Medical Institute Janelia Farms Research Campus, and the Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology. Chayes is a past Chair of the Mathematics Section of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and a past Vice- President of the American Mathematical Society.

Chayes received her BA in biology and physics at Wesleyan University, where she graduated first in her class, and her PhD in mathematical physics at Princeton. She did her postdoctoral work in the mathematics and physics departments at Harvard and Cornell. She is the recipient of a National Science Foundation Postdoctoral Fellowship, a Sloan Fellowship, and the UCLA Distinguished Teaching Award. Chayes has recently been the recipient of many leadership awards including the Leadership Award of Women Entrepreneurs in Science and Technology, the Leading Women Award of the Girl Scouts of Eastern Massachusetts, the Women to Watch Award of the Boston Business Journal, and the Women of Leadership Vision Award of the Anita Borg Institute. She has twice been a member of the Institute for Advanced Study in Princeton. Chayes is a Fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, the Fields Institute, the Association for Computing Machinery, the American Mathematical Society, and a National Associate of the National Academies.

Chayes is best known for her work on phase transitions, in particular for laying the foundation for the study of phase transitions in problems in discrete mathematics and theoretical computer science; this study is now giving rise to some of the fastest known algorithms for fundamental problems in combinatorial optimization. She is also one of the world’s experts in the modeling and analysis of random, dynamically growing graphs—which are used to model the Internet, the World Wide Web and a host of other technological and social networks. Among Chayes’ contributions to Microsoft technologies are the development of methods to analyze the structure and behavior of various networks, the design of auction algorithms, and the design and analysis of various business models for the online world.

Edward Lazowska [NAE]
Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science and Engineering
University of Washington

Edward Lazowska holds the Bill & Melinda Gates Chair in Computer Science & Engineering at the University of Washington. He also serves as the Founding Director of the University of Washington eScience Institute, and as the Founding Chair of the Computing Community Consortium.

Lazowska received his A.B. from Brown University in 1972 and his Ph.D. from the University of Toronto in 1977, when he joined the University of Washington faculty. Lazowska’s research and teaching concern the design, implementation, and analysis of high performance computing and communication systems, and, more recently, the techniques and technologies of data-intensive science. Twenty two Ph.D. students and twenty three Masters students have completed degrees working with him. In recognition of his research accomplishments, Lazowska has been elected a Member of the National Academy of Engineering, a Fellow of the American Academy of Arts & Sciences, and a Fellow of the Association for Computing Machinery, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. In addition, he has received the Vollum Award for Distinguished Accomplishment in Science and Technology from Reed College, and the University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering Undergraduate Teaching Award.

Lazowska’s national leadership activities include serving as Co-Chair (with Marc Benioff) of the President’s Information Technology Advisory Committee from 2003-05, and as Co-Chair (with David E. Shaw) of the Working Group of the President’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology to review the Federal Networking and Information Technology Research and Development Program in 2010. He also has served as Chair of the Computing Research Association (1997-2001), Chair of the NSF CISE Advisory Committee (1998-99), Chair of the DARPA Information Science and Technology Study Group (2004-06), and Founding Chair of the Computing Community Consortium (2007-13), as well as serving on a large number of National Academies study committees. In recognition of his national leadership, Lazowska has received the Computing Research Association Distinguished Service Award, the ACM Presidential Award, and the ACM Distinguished Service Award. A long-time advocate for increasing women’s participation in the field, Lazowska serves on the Executive Advisory Council of the National Center for Women & Information Technology. He received the University of Washington Outstanding Public Service Award for his K-12 outreach activities.

Lazowska is a member of the Microsoft Research Technical Advisory Board, and serves as a board member or technical advisor to a number of high-tech companies and venture firms. He is a member of the Board and Executive Committee of the Washington Technology Industry Association, the Technology Alliance of Washington, and the Washington State Academy of Sciences.

Lazowska served as Chair of University of Washington Computer Science & Engineering from 1993-2001, a period during which its stature increased significantly. Along with Tom Alberg (Managing Director of Madrona Venture Group) and Jeremy Jaech (CSE alumnus and co-founder of Aldus and Visio) he led the fundraising campaign for the Paul G. Allen Center for Computer Science & Engineering, which was dedicated in 2003. Lazowska spent 1984-85 on sabbatical at the DEC Systems Research Center and Stanford University, and 2001-02 on sabbatical at the University of California, San Diego.

Vivian W. Pinn [IOM]
Senior Scientist Emerita, Fogarty International Center, and
Former Director, Office of Research on Women's Health
National Institutes of Health

Vivian W. Pinn is the former Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health in National Institutes of Health (NIH). She was the first full-time Director of the Office of Research on Women’s Health in the Office of the Director of NIH, appointed in 1991. She came to NIH from Howard University’s College of Medicine in Washington, DC, where she had been Professor and Chair of the Department of Pathology, and she has previously held appointments at Tufts University School of Medicine and Harvard Medical School. She has been invited to present the ORWH’s mandate, programs, and initiatives to many national and international organizations with an interest in improving women’s health, the health of minorities, and careers in bioscience for women and minorities. She has received numerous honors, awards, and recognitions and has been granted ten honorary degrees of laws and science since 1992. She is a fellow of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and a member of the Institute of Medicine (IOM).

Patricia Taboada-Serrano
Assistant Professor
Department of Chemical and Biomedical Engineering
Rochester Institute of Technology

Patricia Taboada-Serrano is Assistant Professor of Chemical and Biological Engineering at Rochester Institute of Technology. She was born in Brazil and raised in Bolivia. She is a chemical engineer, has a M.Sc. in chemical engineering and a Ph.D. in environmental engineering. She has worked as a research and development engineer at the Center for Applied Research in Bolivia, a postdoctoral research associate at Oak Ridge National Laboratory, and an instructor at Simon Bolivar University (Venezuela), and the Catholic University (Bolivia). She has over twenty scientific publications in peer-reviewed journals and conference proceedings, numerous conference presentations, and two patents pending. Her research interests include nanothermodynamics and the application of nanotechnology in alternative energy systems. She is a member of the American Chemical Society, the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, the Bolivian Institute of Engineers, and the InterAmerican Network of Academies of Sciences (IANAS) Women for Science Working Group.

Lydia Villa-Komaroff
Co-founder and Board Member
Cytonome / ST, LLC

Dr. Lydia Villa-Komaroff is a Board member and co-founder of Cytonome/ST (“Cytonome”), a company developing and manufacturing purpose-built cell sorters. She received her BA from Goucher College and her Ph.D. in Cell Biology from MIT; her advisors were David Baltimore and Harvey Lodish. As a postdoc in Walter Gilbert’s laboratory, she was lead author of a landmark paper reporting the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff held research positions at Harvard University, the University of Massachusetts Medical Center, Cold Spring Harbor Laboratories, Children's Hospital, Boston and she published over 70 research articles and reviews. As an administrator she served as Vice President for Research at Northwestern University in Illinois, Vice President for Research and Chief Operating Officer of the Whitehead Institute (Cambridge, MA), and Chairman of the Board of Transkaryotic Therapies, Inc.

Dr. Villa-Komaroff has served on committees for NSF, NIH, and the National Academies of Science and Engineering. She was a member of the US delegation to the Asian-Pacific Economic Conference-Women and the Economy Forum held in Russia (2012). She is a member of the National Academies of Sciences standing Committee on Women in Science, Engineering and Medicine and recently co-chaired a sub-committee that planned and conducted the workshop “Seeking Solutions: Maximizing American Talent by Advancing Women of Color in Academia.” She currently serves on the Board of the Massachusetts Life Science Center (Gubernatorial appointment) and the Board of Directors of ATCC, an independent, private, nonprofit biological resource center and research organization.

Valerie Taylor
Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs
Dwight Look College of Engineering, and
Regents Professor and Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor
Department of Computer Science and Engineering
Texas A&M University

Valerie Taylor is the Senior Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in the Dwight Look College of Engineering and the Regents Professor and Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University. In 2003, she joined Texas A&M University as the Department Head of CSE, where she remained in that position until 2011. Prior to joining Texas A&M, Dr. Taylor was a member of the faculty in the EECS Department at Northwestern University for eleven years. She has authored or co-authored over 100 papers in the area high performance computing. She is also the Executive Director of the Center for Minorities and People with Disabilities in IT (CMD-IT). Dr. Taylor is an IEEE Fellow and has received numerous awards for distinguished research and leadership, including the 2001 IEEE Harriet B. Rigas Award for a woman with significant contributions in engineering education, the 2002 Outstanding Young Engineering Alumni from the University of California at Berkeley, the 2002 CRA Nico Habermann Award for increasing the diversity in computing, and the 2005 Tapia Achievement Award for Scientific Scholarship, Civic Science, and Diversifying Computing. Dr. Taylor is a member of ACM. Valerie E. Taylor earned her B.S. in ECE and M.S. in Computer Engineering from Purdue University in 1985 and 1986, respectively, and a Ph.D. in EECS from the University of California, Berkeley, in 1991.

Susan R. Wessler [NAS]
Distinguished Professor of Genetics
University of California, Riverside

Susan R. Wessler is Distinguished Professor of Genetics in the Department of Botany & Plant Sciences at the University of California, Riverside. Born in New York City, Wessler earned her B.A. at the State University of New York at Stony Brook in 1973, and her Ph.D. at Cornell University in 1980. Wessler completed a postdoctoral fellowship with the Carnegie Institute of Washington, working on model organisms for maize and grasses. Wessler was a Distinguished Research Professor in the department of plant biology at the University of Georgia, Athens, where she started working in 1983. Wessler was elected to membership in the National Academy of Sciences in 1998 and was elected in 2004 to the Council of the National Academy. She was elected as NAS Home Secretary in 2011. She is a fellow of the American Association of the Advancement of Science and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She is the recipient of the Creative Research Medal (1991) and the Lamar Dodd Creative Research Award (1997) from the University of Georgia. In addition she was the first recipient of the Distinguished Scientist Award (2007) from the Southeastern Universities Research Association (SURA). Her scientific interest focuses on the subject of plant transposable elements and the evolution of plant genomes.

Sheldon Weinbaum [NAS/NAE/IOM]
CUNY Distinguished Professor
The City College of the City University of New York

Sheldon Weinbaum is Distinguished Professor Emeritus at the City College of New York. Weinbaum is one of only nine living individuals elected to all three U.S. National Academies (the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, the Institute of Medicine and the American Academy of Arts and Sciences) and is the only engineer to have received a Guggenheim Fellowship in cell and molecular biology. He received his Ph.D. in engineering in 1963 from Harvard University and is widely recognized for novel biomechanical models that hae changed existing views in such areas as vulnerable plaque rupture, bone fluid flow, cellular mechanotransduction, renal transport, and microvascular heat and fluid exchange.

Though Weinbaum is retiring from the classroom, he continues to work full-time at the Grove School, doing research and advising graduate students. He is also well known for his long-standing efforts to integrate women and under-represented minorities (URM) into engineering and, more recently, into biomedical engineering as co-founder of CCNY’s Biomedical Engineering Department.

Previous Committee Members

Lilian Wu, Chair (Emeritus), Program Executive, Global University Programs, IBM Corporate

Florence B. Bonner, Senior Vice President for Research and Compliance, Howard University

Allan Fisher, Vice PresidentLaureate Education, Inc.

Pardis Sabeti, Assistant Professor, Harvard University

* Denotes membership in the National Academy of Science, the National Academy of Engineering, or the Institute of Medicine.