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 Tuesday, May 11, 2004 IssueFaculty/Staff E-Newsletter


CU-Boulder Women Scientists are Tops in the Nation

Several women faculty have been honored recently for their achievements in the sciences and engineering, and their prestigious accomplishments deserve widespread recognition on our campus.

Physics Department Professor Margaret Murnane, also a JILA fellow, and chemistry and biochemistry department Professor Margaret Tolbert, a fellow of the Cooperative Institute for Research in Environmental Sciences (CIRES), were elected to the National Academy of Sciences last month, bringing to 19 the total number of CU-Boulder professors who have been named to the elite institution. Election to the Academy is considered one of the highest honors that can be bestowed on American scientists or engineers. Professor Murnane and Professor Tolbert join Professor Jane Menken of sociology to bring to three the number of CU-Boulder women faculty members in the National Academy of Sciences.

Professor Kristi Anseth, a chemical and biological engineer, has received the National Science Foundation's Alan T. Waterman Award, the foundation's highest honor for a young researcher. She is a nationwide leader in the study of biomaterials, and has garnered several other distinguished research and teaching honors.

Professor Anseth and Professor Natalie Ahn, chemistry and biochemistry, have also been named investigators by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute.

Three women have received MacArthur fellowships, known as the genius grant: Deborah Jin of JILA and Physics (2003), and Margaret Murnane, Physics (2000) along with Patricia Limerick, History (1995).

Women scientists and engineers come to CU-Boulder to engage in exciting work. They make tremendous discoveries, publish, and obtain prestigious grants and awards. Our female scientists often mentor bright female students, many of whom have gone to the top graduate schools in the country.

Yet, we still have a long way to go to establish gender equity among the ranks of our faculty. According to a study cited recently in the Chronicle of Higher Education, women represent only a very small proportion of the scientists, mathematicians, and engineers working at the nation's top research universities. Here at CU-Boulder, women and members of minority groups are significantly underrepresented on science faculties, but we're working to change that.

We are fortunate to have Patricia Rankin of the physics department in a leadership role to help improve the status of women at CU-Boulder. Professor Rankin is principal investigator for the Leadership Education for Advancement and Promotion, or LEAP program. LEAP has received a $3.5 million grant from the National Science Foundation to help increase the number of women serving in administration positions in science, mathematics, engineering and technology programs at CU-Boulder. The administration has provided an additional $900,000 in matching funds in support of this program. Although the pace may seem slow at times, we are diligently continuing our work to increase the number of women faculty on this campus.

Please join me in congratulating our recent award winners. I'd also like to express my appreciation to all our women faculty for all they do for students and for the University of Colorado at Boulder.

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