USC Women In Science and Engineering (WiSE) helps junior female faculty share their research

| May 7, 2018

The annual WiSE Research Horizons Symposium at USC brought together some of the best minds in academic research

(L to R) Kelly Sanders, Teh Fu Yen Early Career Chair and Assistant Professor of Civil and Environmental Engineering; Carly Kenkel, Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences; Bistra Dilkina, WiSE Gabilan Assistant Professor and Assistant Professor of Computer Science; Naomi Levine, Gabilan Assistant Professor of Biological Sciences and Earth Sciences Photo courtesy of USC WiSE

An anonymous donation of $20 million; a quest to increase gender diversity in STEM and the need for a platform for all women faculty to share their academic research.

The annual Women In Science and Engineering (WiSE) Research Horizons Symposium is a result of all of these. On March 23, 2018, professors Lorraine Turcotte of the Department of Biological Sciences and Michelle Povinelli of the Department of Electrical Engineering, organized this event to showcase cutting edge research in health, nanoscience and policy. In the spirit of convergence, the event also brought together junior and senior female scientists from USC Dornsife and USC Viterbi to learn about sources of funding and opportunities for collaboration.

The event was divided into three main sessions with the first session focused on health and health policy research. The second session covered engineering and nano-science research and the final session focused on environmental sustainability.

Eun Ji Chung of the Department of Biomedical Engineering, an American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE) 35 Under 35 award winner, demonstrated how nano-particles offer advantages over traditional small molecule drugs and illustrated the versatility and applicability of nano-medicine in the treatment of a variety of diseases including atherosclerosis and cancer.

The sessions were interspersed by moderated discussions which discussed sources of funding and collaboration opportunities.

During the concluding hours of the event, members from the USC Advancement Office, USC Dornsife Research Office and the USC Stevens Center for Innovation presented the many avenues researchers can pursue to obtain funding from university and non-university sources. The panelists also discussed how to write up a successful grant proposal.

“We’re really excited about the growth we’ve seen in the number of women faculty and we’re really happy that we are now at a point where we can have this size of an event – where we have enough women faculty to run a whole symposium.”

Michelle Povinelli

Event co-organizer Povinelli pointed out that events like this have been possible in large part due to the support of the school’s administration.

“I am glad Dean Yortsos was able to attend the event, in support of the incredible range of talent here on campus,” Povinelli said. “We hope to build on the success of this year’s event with an expanded program next year.”

Events like this, Povinelli hopes, will give female undergraduate and graduate students a chance to participate in a forum and learn about female researchers and the exciting work that is being done on the USC campus.

“Not only were the research talks interesting, but I learned a lot from panels regarding establishing collaborations, getting funding from various sources, and working in the industry,” said Nina Singh, a biomedical engineering student in her third year.

“I hope to pursue translational research as a physician and it was really inspiring to see so many women leading impactful research.”

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