Ten former L’Oréal USA For Women in Science fellows receive “Changing the Face of STEM” grants to support their mentoring programs


This Year’s Winners Reflect the Program’s Ongoing Commitment to Mentoring and Engaging Girls and Women in STEM Fields

Sri Sarma Changing the Face of STEM

The L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program today announced the 10 winners of its Changing the Face of STEM (CTFS) mentoring grants for 2018. The winning projects represent a broad range of activities focused on mentoring and engaging girls and women in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM), from elementary to graduate school. The grants will help fund STEM programs in California, Florida, Maryland, Massachusetts, New York, Texas and Washington.

Now in its third year, the CTFS program supports former L’Oréal USA For Women in Science (FWIS) fellows in their efforts to inspire the next generation of girls in STEM. Members of the L’Oréal USA FWIS alumni network were invited to apply for $2,500 grants to help fund new or existing mentoring projects in their communities. The awards will be administered by the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS), official partner of the L’Oréal USA For Women in Science program.

“We are committed to inspiring the next generation of women in STEM through our For Women in Science program,” said Lauren Paige, Vice President of Public Affairs & Strategic Initiatives at L’Oréal USA. “Our Changing the Face of STEM grant program builds on this long-time commitment and supports our fellows in their continuous work promoting STEM education in communities across the United States.”  

“As a two-time Changing the Face of STEM grant winner I’m excited to be able to double the number of students I’m reaching through my Tiny Bubbles Mentoring program this year,” said Dr. Laura Lapham, Associate Professor at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and 2008 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow. “Providing community college students hands-on research experiences is critical to generating excitement about the potential for careers in STEM.”  

This 2018 CTFS grants will support the following fellows, and their projects, throughout the country:

Dr. Trisha L. Andrew, Associate Professor at University of Massachusetts Amherst and 2011 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Andrew is using the CTFS grant to create an internship program that targets STEM students from Springfield Technical Community College (STCC). The program will help fortify the number of underrepresented students in chemistry and engineering. STCC, Massachusetts’ only technical community college, runs a program called STEM Starter Academy to enhance student readiness for STEM jobs or transfer to a four-year academic STEM program.  Dr. Andrew currently runs a seminar with Starter Academy students to help educate them about what it means to work in STEM. The CTFS grant will allow Dr. Andrew to expand her involvement by hiring a female intern from the Starter Academy and providing her with a stipend, which is integral to growing the program and attracting a diverse student population.

Dr. Livia S. Eberlin, Assistant Professor at the University of Texas at Austin and 2014 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Eberlin is using her second CTFS grant to continue supporting the “My Science <-> My Life” mentoring program. As a recipient of last year’s grant, the CTFS grant helped Dr. Eberlin start the “My Science <-> My Life program in the spring of 2018. The program provides a unique mentorship opportunity for women undergraduate and graduate students at the University of Texas at Austin, who are interested in pursuing careers in STEM. As a successful researcher and mother of young children, Dr. Eberlin has seen how women are often interested in entering the academic or private sector STEM workforce, but are fearful of how their careers may impact their personal lives. By providing students with personal and professional mentorship and positive role models, Dr. Eberlin aims to keep women in active and ambitious STEM jobs while also encouraging them to strike an equilibrium (in Chemistry, symbolized by “<->”) between science and life. The CTFS grant will allow Dr. Eberlin to upgrade the program’s website to a social network platform and keep the program running in 2019.

Dr. Joanna Kelley, Associate Professor at Washington State University and 2012 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Kelley is using the CTFS grant to continue sharing her passion for genetics through a partnership with Abra Pitters, who is a science teacher at Montgomery Middle School in San Diego, California. After receiving a CTFS grant last year, Dr. Kelley began her project, which seeks to expose students to ongoing research while providing career exploration resources throughout the school year. The 2018-2019 curriculum will include laboratory experiments that are aligned to Dr. Kelley’s Antarctic research and the study of evolution of antifreeze proteins in Antarctic fish. This curriculum will also be disseminated throughout the Sweetwater Union High School District, the second largest district in California serving over 45,000 students. Dr. Kelley will also be producing videos that highlight the range of STEM careers possible with an undergraduate STEM degree. The videos will be produced in multiple languages to better serve the District’s students, where English-language learners make up 60% of the student population. 

Dr. Laura Lapham, Associate Professor at University of Maryland Center for Environmental Science and 2008 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Lapham is using her second CTFS grant to build on the success of the Tiny Bubbles Mentoring Project, a hands-on research experience for STEM students she created last year at the College of Southern Maryland (CSM). The Tiny Bubbles Mentoring Project is working to change the face of science by encouraging interest in first and second year students at the local community college. This year’s program seeks to surpass the accomplishments of the initial pilot in Spring 2018 by doubling the number of students reached.  This fall, Dr. Lapham will deliver a lecture to 30 CSM biology students and provide them with the opportunity to participate on research cruises on the Chesapeake Bay, which allows students to experience life as a marine scientist. Dr. Lapham hopes to continue to excite and motivate community college STEM students to maintain their studies and complete a four-year STEM degree.

Dr. M Nia Madison, Assistant Professor at Miami Dade College and 2010 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Madison is using her third CTFS grant to continue supporting the Miami Dade College Microbiology Girls Club, which introduces local minority high school girls to careers in biomedical sciences. 53 students participated in successful workshops in 2017 and 2018, and up to 48 students will participate in workshops in the summer of 2019. The two, 2-day workshops will include a series of exciting lectures, lab tours and experimental projects at the Miami Dade College Homestead campus. Dr. Madison’s workshop series give the participants an opportunity to conduct experiments, learn techniques, experience life as a collegiate scientist and spark additional interest and awareness of successful scientists that come from similarly diverse backgrounds.

Dr. Nozomi Nishimura, Assistant Professor at Cornell University and 2009 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Nishimura will use the CTFS grant to help fund a new mutual student exchange program between Biomedical Engineering (BME) students at Cornell University and Arusha Technical College (ATC) in Tanzania. This ATC-Cornell exchange program seeks to improve health care in Tanzania by building local expertise through a new BME program that trains technicians to maintain and service non-functional medical equipment. As part of the program, six Cornell BME students will visit Tanzania during August 2019, accompanied by 1-2 Cornell BME faculty. The Cornell students will be paired with ATC students and join them on internships in local area hospitals and medical clinics, working to repair, improve, and innovate medical equipment. During the inaugural fall semester, the same ATC student participants will come to Cornell to receive technical training and networking opportunities. The CTFS grant will enable a female Tanzanian student to participate in the exchange program and strengthen the network of women in the industry.   

Dr. Lauren O’Connell, Assistant Professor at Stanford University and 2014 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow 

Dr. O’Connell is using the CTFS grant to broaden participation in science through enhanced festival and conference outreach. Dr. O’Connell currently uses her research on poison frogs, an amphibian species native to Central and South America, to engage audiences on rainforest biodiversity and conservation. The CTFS grant will enable her to incorporate her work in neuroscience in this outreach through the purchase of kits and supplies that will provide hands-on scientific learning experiences.  Dr. O’Connell will utilize these new tools in her visits at a variety of venues in the community including CalAcademy’s Nightlife, the Bay Area Science Festival, and Stanford University’s First-Generation Conference.  The goal of these efforts is to communicate research with adults, encourage scientific engagement in youth, and broaden participation of first-generation students in STEM fields.

Dr. Pardis Sabeti, Professor at Harvard University and the Broad Institute and 2004 FWIS Fellow

Dr. Sabeti’s lab and Sarasota Military Prep Academy will be using their second CTFS grant to integrate STEM technology into an ‘Outbreak’ simulation. This experiential learning exercise replicates a potential real-world outbreak scenario and guides hundreds of students on how to respond through a coordinated community effort and use of technology, teaching them science and public health in the process. It will be complemented by a three-week period of instruction prior to the simulation involving learning units specifically designed to blend multiple methodologies ranging from biology to social sciences. This year’s simulation will take place in March 2019, building upon last year’s successful activity by incorporating new components to further enhance the realism and engagement of the experience. Following the event, students will participate in a period of reflection and data analysis.

Dr. Sridevi Sarma, Associate Professor at John Hopkins University and 2008 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Sarma is using her second CTFS grant to continue hosting a physics project with the Girl Scouts of Central Maryland. In spring 2018, Dr. Sarma and PhD candidate Macauley Breault developed and executed a fun and competitive STEM activity that brought together more than two dozen Girl Scout Cadette troops (ages 10-12) at Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, Maryland. The CTFS grant will allow her to repeat this successful project in 2019. The Girl Scout Roller Coaster Contest challenges participants’ engineering skills as they compete to build roller coasters out of household materials. Led by Dr. Sarma and a dozen female PhD candidates in her lab, each troop will learn about the physics of roller coasters, which will then help them to design a model for a chance to win tickets to Six Flags America.

Dr. Sabrina Stierwalt, Outreach Scientist at California Institute of Technology and 2014 L’Oréal USA FWIS Fellow

Dr. Stierwalt is using the grant to support and broaden her outreach efforts by purchasing an infrared camera and other equipment that can compellingly demonstrate the physics of the spectrum of light. As an astrophysicist and outreach scientist, Dr. Stierwalt’s work focuses on the physics of star formation and the interstellar medium during galaxy collisions. The new equipment will allow dozens of students to participate in her talks at one time, thereby increasing audience reach. The new technology will also allow her to reach out to groups she had previously been unable to work with due to their size, including the Los Angeles Public Library and the Los Angeles Girl Scouts, which both serve underrepresented groups in STEM. Moreover, the grant will be used to enrich the curriculum Dr. Stierwalt uses to teach in local classrooms and equip educators with future lesson material.