Frontiers of Discovery:
AWIS at 40

Frontiers of Discovery logo

Frontiers of Discovery: AWIS at 40 Years commemorated and celebrated the founding of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) in 1971. A collaboration among AWIS-Philadelphia, AWIS-Central New Jersey, and CHF, Frontiers of Discovery was a two-day event focused on all aspects of women in science. In particular the conference recognized the innovative research accomplishments and the cutting-edge discoveries that women are contributing to the science of tomorrow.

The conference began with a career panel, followed by a day-long event consisting of networking opportunities, panel discussions, and a keynote address by American Chemical Society 2011 President Nancy B. Jackson.

Complementing this conference was the Joseph Priestley Society luncheon featuring Judith Giordan, chair of VentureWell and senior advisor to the National Collegiate Inventors and Innovator Alliance. 

About the Conference

In the early 21st century women play a vital role in science and technology. They have done so throughout history, but in the last 40 years women have made great strides in increasing their numbers and visibility in all areas of the sciences. Vocalizing and publicizing the challenges women in science have faced—through mentoring, social and professional networks, and other venues—women have been able to make the public aware of gender biases against women and change many perceptions for the better.

One of the most important professional networks for women in science over the last 40 years has been the Association for Women in Science (AWIS). Beginning with a small group of female scientists looking for a solution to issues of discrimination, lower pay, and professional isolation, AWIS has grown to 50 chapters nationwide.

Over two days, Frontiers of Discovery brought together women in science, technology, engineering, and math to discuss the achievements of AWIS and all women in science.

About the Keynote

Nancy B. Jackson
2011 President, American Chemical Society
Manager, International Chemical Threat Reduction Department, Sandia National Laboratories

Nancy B. Jackson is manager of the International Chemical Threat Reduction Department in the Global Security Center at Sandia National Laboratories, which assists the U.S. Department of State and other federal agencies in solving problems related to international chemical security. With the Department of State, Jackson has developed the Chemical Security Engagement Program, an international program to raise awareness of chemical safety and security among chemical professionals and to enable the practice of safety and security in the research, teaching, and commerce of chemicals. Previously Jackson was deputy director of Sandia’s International Security Program, where she assisted the director in fulfilling its mission to create technology-based solutions through international cooperation to reduce the threat of weapons of mass destruction proliferation and terrorism. During the past four years, Jackson was responsible for leading the Laboratory Directed Research and Development program for the Global Security Center, which requires identifying and overseeing the research program in support of the center. Prior to her positions in Global Security Jackson was involved in research and development at Sandia as a principal investigator and as a manager. Primarily her research was in heterogeneous catalysis with an emphasis on energy applications. Later work involved chemical imaging with a wide variety of applications from biological systems to homeland defense problems.

Jackson is a National Affiliate of the National Academies, where she has served on several boards and chaired studies. She is a fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science and was recipient of the 2005 American Indian Science and Engineering Society Professional of the Year Award. Jackson is a former member of the Board of Trustees of Rocky Mountain College and is a research associate professor in the Chemical and Nuclear Engineering Department of the University of New Mexico.

Jackson has a B.S. in chemistry from George Washington University, from which she won a Distinguished Alumni Achievement Award in 2005. She also has a Ph.D. in chemical engineering from the University of Texas at Austin.

In 2009 Jackson was elected to the presidential succession of the American Chemical Society. She served as president-elect for 2010, serves as president for 2011, and will serve as immediate past president in 2012.

Speaker Biographies

Mary Dominiecki is an Associate Group Director at National Analysts Worldwide with the firm's Healthcare practice with responsibility for design, analysis, and management of both qualitative and quantitative assignments with pharmaceutical and bio-technology companies.  Mary has been involved in studies addressing a broad range of marketing problems, including buying process, new concept and product testing, market segmentation analysis, and product usage.  Her assignments have included complex studies covering diverse areas including hematologic malignancies, surgical devices, and motor disorders.  She serves as the overall project manager with all the day-to-day responsibilities, in addition to acting as the client contact, supervising field, data collection, and data processing, and crafting reports and final presentations.  

Prior to joining National Analysts Worldwide, Mary held various positions serving the pharmaceutical industry.  She was a Clinical Publications Lead at AstraZeneca with responsibilities for oncology products as well as diabetes products.  Prior to joining AstraZeneca, Mary worked as the Medical Director for an oncology-focused medical communications agency and as a Senior Medical Writer in several therapeutic areas including liver disease, rheumatology, respiratory, infectious diseases, pain management, oncology (solid tumors, hematologic malignancies, and supportive care), and anti-psychotics.  She also has extensive experience teaching undergraduate and graduate courses in biology, genetics, immunology, and microbiology.  Mary holds a Ph.D. in Basic Medical Sciences from The New York University and a B.S. in Biology from The Pennsylvania State University.

Hilary Domush is a program associate for the Oral History Program, where she conducts research and works with program staff to propose and develop new projects as well as help manage the program. Hilary is the lead researcher on the Women in Chemistry Oral History project which she began in 2008. In particular she is interested in different avenues to success in industry, academia, and national laboratories; the role of science education in increasing gender diversity; interdisciplinary science; and globalization of science. Hilary also contributes to CHF publications Periodic Tabloid and Distillations.

Hilary earned an M.S. in  history of science and an M.A. in chemistry from the University of Wisconsin, Madison, and a B.S. in chemistry from Bates College. Her graduate research in the history of science focused on 19th-century chemistry at the University of Edinburgh and the Edinburgh School of Arts. Before joining the history of science department she conducted studies toward the total synthesis of Phorboxazole B in Steven D. Burke’s laboratory.

Erica A. Golemis is a Professor at Fox Chase Cancer Center, and serves as Deputy Chief Scientific Officer, and Co-Leader of the Program in Developmental Therapeutics.  Her research program at Fox Chase seeks to consider the signaling networks governing carcinogenesis as fully integrated systems.  Erica’s  initial graduate studies used bioinformatics approaches to identify the common enhancer core for a large set of leukemia inducing viruses, and provided groundwork for the discovery of the key RUNX/AML leukemic regulators.  As a postdoctoral fellow at Massachusetts General Hospital and Harvard Medical School, Erica was lead developer of the Interaction Trap, an independently developed yeast two-hybrid system that became a major platform for the identification of protein-protein interactions in the 1990s.  Building from this background, one set of projects in the laboratory arose from a functional genomics screen to identify human genes that coordinately affected cell cycle and cell polarity cues in yeast.  Among the numerous genes that were identified by this approach, much of her work has focused on NEDD9/HEF1, encoding a scaffolding protein that supports both tumor initiation and metastasis, based on its central role in coordinating signaling cascaded that regulated cell cycle, invasion, and survival.  For these studies, Erica combines analysis in human cell culture with use of mouse and Drosophila models.  Other work integrates protein network modeling and RNA interference-based mid- and high-throughput screening to address the multifactorial basis for the drug resistance commonly found in advanced cancers.  Her core belief is that the next-generation in cancer therapeutic development will require simultaneous inhibition of multiple central hubs in tumor signaling networks, and all of her work is focused on identifying productive inhibition targets.

Kristen Graf is the Executive Director of Women of Wind Energy (WoWE), a national nonprofit.  WoWE promotes the education, professional development, and advancement of women to achieve a strong diversified workforce and support a robust renewable energy economy.   

Before making her way to WoWE, Kristen spent five years with the Union of Concerned Scientists (UCS) in Boston.  As the Clean Energy Program Coordinator and Research Associate at UCS she worked on renewable energy policy at the state and national level with particular focus on wind and biomass energy in New England as well as working to hone some of her nonprofit management skills.  
In 2011, Kristen was named a Senior Fellow in the Environmental Leadership Program’s Eastern Region.  She holds a Bachelors Degree in Agricultural and Biological Engineering from Cornell University.

Originally from Pittsburgh, Kristen now lives in Brooklyn where she loves being able to ride her bike to work, spend time with her niece and nephew, and practice surfing in the cold waters of Long Island.

Julia Heinrich has twenty years of experience in the pharmaceutical industry as an R & D research biologist, where she advanced from a postdoctoral fellow at Bristol-Myers Squibb (Jan 1990-Jul 1994) to Principal Research Scientist at Wyeth Research, now Pfizer (Aug 1994-Apr 2008). Julia transitioned to a Patent Information Analyst at Sanofi in Bridgewater, NJ (Mar 2010-Aug 2011) and continuing as a Senior Patent Analyst, Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS), Hopewell, NJ. Julia obtained her B.A. in Biology from Brown University, Ph.D. from Cornell University, the Memorial-Sloan Kettering Cancer Institute Division of Cornell Medical School, NY and a Rutgers mini-MBA in Bio-Pharma Innovation.

Soon after joining Wyeth Research (August 1994), in collegial support Julia joined the initiative of the late Kathy Young to establish Central Jersey Chapter, now New Jersey Chapter (1994). Her first “official” responsibilities included Chair of the Grant position and recruiter of Webmasters. Later, Julia assumed board positions of President in 2000 and 2009 and Treasurer for the past two years. The history of her 2 cents to CJC/NJ is captured on Google in Newsletters and web positing. Throughout the years Julia has benefited immensely from the networking events and activity AWIS affords its membership.

Joan M. Herbers was born and grew up in St. Louis Missouri. She is the third-eldest of a large family, with 7 sisters and 5 brothers. Joan went to college at the University of Dayton, and to graduate school at Northwestern University. After receiving her Ph.D. she spent a year of postdoctoral study at Stanford University. She became a faculty member at the University of Vermont in 1979, where she rose from Assistant Professor to Professor. While there, she also served as Associate Dean of the Graduate College. In 1993 she moved to Colorado State University to become the chair of the Biological Sciences Department. Then in 2002 Joan  moved to Ohio State University to become Dean of the College of Biological Sciences, a position she held for six years. Her professional specialty is the study of insect societies, mostly ants. Her research has taken her to Australia, Costa Rica, and India and she has published many scientific papers about how ant colonies are organized.

Joan is currently a Professor at Ohio State and President of the Association for Women in Science. She joined the national board of AWIS as a Councilor in 2007. She has been committed to strengthening the work of AWIS chapters by forging stronger links between members, chapter activities, and the national office. She became president on January 1, 2010 and has  led a new three-year AWIS strategic plan that included strengthening advocacy, breaking down barriers and growing capacity of women in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM).

Herbers currently lives in Columbus, Ohio, with her husband of 26 years; their two children are pursuing careers in archeology and military.

Katharine Holloway is a Senior Investigator at Merck Research Laboratories in West Point, PA, where she is involved in the computer-aided design of drugs to fight infectious diseases.  Kate received a B.S. in Chemistry and French from the University of Southern Mississippi in 1979 and a Ph. D. in theoretical organic chemistry from The University of Texas at Austin in 1985.  During her career at Merck, she has been most closely identified with the design of protease inhibitors for the treatment of HIV/AIDS (Crixivan™, approved 1996) and Hepatitis C infection (MK-7009, currently in Phase 3 clinical trials in Japan).  She has been honored with several awards as a co-inventor of Crixivan™.  These include the Intellectual Property Owners National Inventor of the Year Award in 1997, the American Chemical Society Award for Creative Invention in 1999, and the EU Inventor of the Year Award (non-EU country) in 2007.  She was also featured in the 2004 Chemical Heritage Foundation exhibit and website titled "Her Lab in Your Life:  Women in Chemistry" and was named as part of a $2000 answer in the category "She Invented What?" on the TV game show Jeopardy in 2005.  Kate has over 70 publications and patents in the area of computer-aided drug design.  She also currently serves as Chair of the Computers in Chemistry division of the American Chemical Society.  

Kristen Kahle is a Research Scientist at Integral Molecular, Inc., located at the University City Science Center Research Park in Philadelphia PA.  Integral Molecular is a biotechnology company that provides innovative solutions for antibody development, drug discovery, and scientific research involving cellular and viral integral membrane proteins.  Kristen is the project leader for a multidisciplinary NIAID contract focused on investigating B-cell epitopes and the mechanisms of antibody protection for Dengue, Hepatitis C, and Chikungunya viruses.  Kristen received her B.S. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and her M.S. in Biotechnology from Pennsylvania State University.  After working as a research associate at Thomas Jefferson University studying hematopoietic stem cells, Kristen earned her Ph.D. in Molecular Pharmacology and Structural Biology at Thomas Jefferson.  Her graduate research involved investigating the kinetics of HIV-1 deactivation and its implications for fusion inhibitor design and the acquisition of viral resistance.  During these studies Kristen developed a deep interest in antiviral research and is excited to explore the mechanisms by which antibodies neutralize and, in specific instances, enhance viral infection to provide information for vaccine efforts.

Marielena Mata, Ph.D. is a Principal Research Scientist in the Oncology Biomarkers group at Ortho Biotech R&D, Inc. leading the development of Circulating Tumor Cell based assays as companion diagnostics for Oncology therapeutics.  In that role, Marielena is responsible for development and implementation of CTC driven biomarker strategies within the context of the larger Biomarker program.  In addition, she is involved in collaborations with Veridex LLC diagnostics, another Johnson & Johnson unit, to extend CellSearch capabilities to additional cell types and increased molecular characterization.  Earlier, she established and managed the Biomarkers biobank.  In that capacity, she led the team responsible for evaluation of commercial biobanks, implementation of a LIMS system across multiple J&J companies and the development of processes and documentation associated with the Biobank.  She was also responsible for technical assessment of multiple technology platforms for biomarker research with an emphasis on cell based assays and proteomics.

Prior to joining the Biomarkers group, Marielena had joined Centocor as a Research Scientist in the Department of Clinical Pharmacology and Experimental Medicine.  In this position, she led the development and execution of cell based assays to support clinical trial studies.  In addition, she supported PK, PD and IR bioanalysis for Oncology studies and represented the department in clinical teams and Compound Development teams for new oncology programs at Centocor.

Marielena obtained a B.A. in Biology at the University of North Carolina at Greensboro and her Ph.D. and postdoctoral training in Immunology at the University of Pennsylvania.

Susan Harkness Regli is the Lead, User Centered Interfaces at Lockheed Martin Advanced Technology Laboratories (ATL).  Susan has spearheaded a broad range of advanced human-computer interaction research for enhanced human cognitive and collaborative activities at ATL, Xerox PARC, Carnegie Mellon University, and VerticalNet, Incis.  Susan is  the Principal Investigator on ATL’s Interface to the Warfighter program for the Office of Naval Research and has researched user-centered design for multimodal and natural-language understanding technology; electronic mail in computer supported collaborative work; mobile computing applications for use at the tactical edge; and applications of intelligence technologies to enhance medical information collection and usage.  She earned her doctorate in Rhetoric from Carnegie Mellon University, where she was affiliated with the Human-Computer Interaction Institute. She also holds masters degrees in English from the University of Virginia and Hollins College, specializing in poetry and creative writing (

Penny Rheingans is a Computer Science and Electrical Engineering Professor and the Director of the Center for Women and Information Technology at University of Maryland Baltimore Count.  Penny's current research interests include the visualization of predictive models, visualization of data with associated uncertainty, volume rendering, information visualization, perceptual and illustration issues in visualization, non-photorealistic rendering, dynamic and interactive representations and interfaces, and the experimental validation of visualization techniques. As Director of the Center for Women in Technology, she oversees a scholarship program for undergraduates committed to increasing gender diversity in the technology fields and develops programs to increase the interest and retention of women in technology programs.

Penny received a Ph.D in Computer Science from the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill and an AB in Computer Science fromHarvard University.  She has over eighty published works in such locations as the IEEE Transactions on Visualization and Computer Graphics, Proceedings of the IEEE Visualization Conference, Proceedings of Eurovis, IEEE Computer Graphics and Applications, and the SIGGRAPH Film Show, as well as included as chapters of various books. In particular, she coauthored the NIH/NSF Visualization Research Challenges report, published in 2006 by IEEE.

Cat Shrier, Ph.D. is the President and Founder of Watercat Consulting LLC, which facilitates innovative approaches to sustainable water planning and management.  She has 25 years of experience with state legislative and congressional offices, agencies, university research institutes, and environmental consulting firms.  Cat serves as Co-Chair of the Energy, Environment, and Entrepreneurs issues group for Women Impacting Public Policy, and as Chair of the Water issues group for Women’s Council on Energy and the Environment.  She holds bachelor’s degrees in Government from Dartmouth College and Geology from North Carolina State University.  She also has a master’s degree in Environmental Science and Engineering, in the program on Environmental Management and Policy, from UNC-Chapel Hill and a Ph.D. in Civil Engineering, in the program on Water Resources Planning and Management, from Colorado State University.

Tom Tritton is the second president of CHF, succeeding Arnold Thackray, who founded the organization in Philadelphia in 1982. Tom served as the twelfth president of Haverford College from 1997 to 2007. He is a cancer chemotherapy research expert with over 150 publications and whose work was continuously funded by the American Cancer Society and the National Institutes of Health. Before Haverford he was a professor of pharmacology for twelve years each at Yale University and the University of Vermont. At UVM he also served as deputy director of the Vermont Comprehensive Cancer Center—a Designated Center of the National Cancer Institute—and as vice provost of the university.

In 2007, before assuming the CHF presidency, Tom was at Harvard University, where he held the title of "president in residence" at the Graduate School of Education. He worked with graduate students in higher education, wrote and taught about leadership and the college presidency, and also designed a new course on "Social Justice." Tom earned a bachelor of arts degree from Ohio Wesleyan University and a Ph.D. from Boston University.

Jodi L. Wesemann is the Assistant Director for Higher Education at the American Chemical Society, where she works with the Undergraduate Programs Office, the Office of Graduate Education, and the Office of Two-Year Colleges. Prior to assuming this position in 2002, she was Associate Professor of Chemistry at Saint Mary’s College of California. She earned her B.A. in chemistry from Augustana College in Rock Island, IL and Ph.D. in inorganic chemistry from Indiana University-Bloomington. Jodi was a Fulbright Fellow at Universität Braunschwieg, Germany and a postdoctoral fellow at Harvey Mudd College supported by the Camille and Henry Dreyfus Foundation Scholar/Fellow Program for Undergraduate Institutions. Having previously chaired the ACS Southern Indiana Section and the Younger Chemists Committee, she currently serves as Treasurer for the Association for Women in Science. With Mary K. Boyd, she co-edited Broadening Participation in Undergraduate Research: Fostering Excellence and Enhancing the Impact, published by the Council on Undergraduate Research in 2009.

Helen K. White  is an Assistant Professor of Chemistry at Haverford College.  She received an M. Chem degree in Chemistry from the University of Sussex, U.K. in 2000 and a Ph.D. in Chemical Oceanography from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Woods Hole Oceanographic Institution (WHOI) Joint program in 2006. After teaching Oceanography at Boston University for a year, she was awarded a Microbial Science Initiative postdoctoral fellowship in 2007 from Harvard University. I enjoy working in the field, collecting samples from rivers, salt marshes and other coastal environment.  Her  doctoral work focused on utilizing variations in natural abundance radiocarbon and stable carbon of different fractions of sediments to examine the distribution, chemical associations and overall fate of marine, terrestrial and fossil fuel-derived organic matter in the marine environment.

At Harvard University she investigated how energy can be harnessed from the microbial metabolism of carbon in the ocean via microbial fuel cells placed in sediments, hydrothermal vents and surface water plankton blooms. This research focused on quantifying the different groups of microbes that contribute either directly or indirectly to power production and the relationship between microbial community structure and the chemistry of the environment.

Helen’s  teaching and research interests are centered in the field of biogeochemistry; a multidisciplinary approach focused at understanding the chemical, physical, geological and biological processes that govern the composition of the Earth’s environment. As a chemist, she mostly employs chemical techniques to address questions in this area. In particular, Helen is interested in understanding the sources, sinks and cycling of organic carbon in marine sediments.

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