The University of Michigan’s Academic Women’s Caucus has awarded its 2023 Sarah Goddard Power Award to four faculty members who have made significant contributions to the betterment of women.
The Office of Diversity, Equity & Inclusion will receive the group’s Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award in honor of its commitment to DEI, demonstrated excellence and outstanding achievements.
This year’s Sarah Goddard Power Award recipients are:
- Regina Baucom, associate professor and associate chair of ecology and evolutionary biology in LSA.
- Jessica Tischler, associate professor of chemistry and biochemistry in the UM-Flint College of Arts & Sciences.
- Monique Ward, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and professor of psychology in LSA.
- Jenna Wiens, associate professor of electrical engineering and computer science in the College of Engineering.
Both awards will be presented from 3-5:30 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Michigan League’s Koessler Room. The ceremony will include a carillon concert from 5-5:30 p.m. Pamela Ruiter-Feenstra will premiere her original work, “Empower,” in honor of Goddard Power.
Sarah Goddard Power Award
Named after the late Regent Sarah Goddard Power, the award recognizes individuals who have made significant contributions to the betterment of women through their leadership, scholarship or other ways in their professional life.
Baucom joined the EEB faculty in 2013 and “has been working tirelessly in many ways to make the academy more welcoming to and supportive of women as well as members of other groups underrepresented in our field since then,” her colleague, Patricia Wittkopp, Arthur F. Thurnau Professor and Sally L. Allen Collegiate Professor of Ecology and Evolutionary Biology and Molecular, Cellular and Developmental Biology, said in a nominating letter.
Some of her work promoting the betterment of women includes the co-development and maintenance of a social media presence and posts on DiversifyEEB, a publicly available database of more than 1,800 women or other marginalized scientists to help search committees, award committees and journal editors build a diverse candidate pool for critical career-building opportunities.
She also has worked on gender representation in the scientific review process, and on the promotion of research and scholarship of other women and minorities.
When Tischler started in the chemistry department at UM-Flint in 2001, one of the first things she did was reinstate the Chemistry Club as a Student Affiliate Chapter of the American Chemical Society. Since winter 2002, the club has been continuously recognized by the ACS with a Chapter Award and has received its top award of “outstanding” 10 times.
Tischler has served as the club’s adviser for more than 20 years and actively works to support students and promote science outreach in the community. As a faculty adviser, Tischler has mentored club officers, who in turn inspire and motivate their fellow members.
She also regularly volunteers at science outreach events on campus and in the community, such as demos and workshops at Super Science Friday, GEMS (Girls, in Engineering, Math and Science), and Curiosity Academy (an after-school program for girls interested in STEM) “so that all kids see women and a diverse group of UM-Flint students represented as scientists,” Besa Xhabija, assistant professor of chemistry and biochemistry at UM-Flint, wrote in a nominating letter.
Throughout her career, Ward has aimed to improve understanding of how young women’s experiences with society and the media affect their developing conceptions of gender and sexuality. In particular, her dedication to the psychology of women is evident throughout her scholarship and mentoring, as well as her leadership in the field and in the psychology department.
Ward developed a research program that addresses questions about adolescents’ and young adults’ conceptions of gender and sexuality, and how they use the messages they receive about male-female relations from their parents, peers and the media.
Her primary area of research investigates the role of the media in the process of sexual socialization and how these messages intersect with gender ideologies, body image, race and sexuality.
Wiens joined the faculty of the computer science and engineering department in 2014. “Wiens is a trailblazer,” said Rada Mihalcea, Janice M. Jenkins Collegiate Professor of Computer Science and Engineering and professor of electrical engineering and computer science, her colleague and nominator.
“She significantly and positively impacts everything she touches. She is uncovering solutions to major scientific problems, she is mentoring students from diverse backgrounds and at different stages in their career trajectories, and she is building and changing entire professional communities,” Mihalcea said.
Wiens’ research focuses primarily on the exploration and development of data-driven methods for health care. Since she started at CSE she has made strides in developing new collaborations with researchers in the Medical School, and is one of the main architects of the campuswide Precision Health initiative, which she now co-directs.
She also is one of the initiators of the e-HAIL (Healthcare and AI) initiative that aims to help form collaborations between artificial-intelligence researchers and medical practitioners.
Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award
The Rhetaugh G. Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award supports a long-standing vision of increasing the number of diverse women in the academy.
Named after late Vice Provost Rhetaugh Dumas, it recognizes outstanding institutional initiative in demonstrating notable progress by academic units in achieving ethnic, racial and gender diversity among those pursuing and achieving tenure as professors, clinical professors, research professors and research scientists.
The Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leads and supports universitywide initiatives focused on the recruitment of a diverse faculty, staff and student body, while fostering an inclusive and equitable community at U-M.
In the 2021-22 academic year, ODEI conducted a yearlong evaluation of the university’s first five-year DEI Strategic Plan, DEI 1.0, which ran from 2016-21. Results were recently presented to the campus community.
“We are excited and flattered to receive this distinguished honor of the Rhetaugh Dumas Progress in Diversifying Award from the Academic Women’s Caucus. There have been a number of significant outcomes achieved during DEI 1.0 in relation to the diversification of our faculty here at U-M, and yet there is much more that needs to be done,” said Tabbye M. Chavous, vice provost for equity and inclusion and chief diversity officer.