AWIS Annual Awards

The AWIS Annual Awards highlight members’ career achievements that demonstrate strong leadership, innovative thinking, and a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility.

Award Categories

These awards recognize AWIS members who are making significant contributions to increasing workplace diversity, promoting women into leadership positions, and advocating for more inclusive practices in STEM. See below for past recipients.

Spark Award

Highlights a student or early career leader in STEM who is a visible and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusive scientific practices.

Meridian Award

Recognizes a mid-career professional whose diversity and inclusion efforts represent a true leader in the pursuit of workplace equity.

Zenith Award

Honors senior career professional’s lifetime of innovative achievements and commitment to workplace diversity in STEM.

2023 Awardees

Spark Award Winners


Julie Yuk Wah Huang, PhD 

Staff Scientist, Alector Inc. 

Dr. Julie Huang received a bachelor’s of science in Geobiology from Caltech and a PhD in Microbiology and Immunology from Stanford where she developed a passion for understanding how we can leverage the complex community of microbes and our immune system to fight diseases.

Dr. Huang was a Fulbright Scholar and served as an international scientific ambassador to Germany helping to foster dialogue and understanding between the cultures. She completed post-doctoral training at Amgen Inc. in the Inflammation and Oncology Department and led pivotal proof of concept studies as a research scientist at Caribou Biosciences to help develop novel therapies for cancer.

Now, as a staff scientist at Alector Inc., Dr. Huang leads teams and collaborates with the global scientific community to develop biomarker strategies to support clinical trials evaluating novel medicines for patients suffering from neurodegenerative diseases.

As the daughter of Chinese immigrants and a first-generation low-income (FLI) student, Dr. Huang’s journey had its share of challenges, but she had the support of mentors and sponsors who recognized her potential. She developed a passion for science communication and mentorship, and co-founded the Stanford FLI Undergraduate Mentoring Program.

She is a Board member of the nonprofit ScholarMatch, a mentor and leader with AWIS, Women in Bio, and the Monte Jade Asian American Mentorship Program.

Giselle Y. López, MD, PhD 

Assistant Professor Pathology and Neurosurgery, Duke University School of Medicine 

Dr. López is an Assistant Professor of Pathology and Neurosurgery at Duke University. She is a physician scientist, combining clinical practice in surgical neuropathology with a research laboratory focused on identifying new biomarkers and treatments for oligodendroglioma, a kind of brain tumor.  

Dr. López was a founding member of the Latino Honors Caucus at the University of Maryland, College Park. Since then, she has shown an unwavering commitment to supporting diverse trainees. As a clinical and research fellow at the University of California, San Francisco, she headed the Mentoring Committee for the Diversity Advisory Group for Graduate Medical Education.  

Now on faculty at Duke, she has co-Chaired the Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Committee for the Pathology PhD Program and the “Getting Back to Basics” Program which provides programing and support to research faculty at Duke from under-represented backgrounds.  

During the pandemic, she launched a virtual shadowing program in pathology, targeted to address inequities in access to clinical shadowing opportunities and building pathways into medicine and science for students from diverse backgrounds. She actively recruited students from historically excluded backgrounds into the program. In recognition of her efforts, both on the research and diversity fronts, she was recently recognized as one of the American Society for Clinical Pathology’s 40 Under Forty. 

Leigh-Ana Rossitto 

PhD Candidate, Xu Chen and Rich Daneman Labs, University of California San Diego

Leigh-Ana Rossitto is a fourth-year PhD candidate in the Biomedical Sciences program at University of California San Diego, studying Alzheimer’s disease and brain metabolism in the labs of Drs. Xu Chen and Rich Daneman. She is interested in brain-body crosstalk and undercovering the molecular underpinnings of metabolic therapies, such as the ketogenic diet, in Alzheimer’s and aging.

Outside of the lab, she devotes her time to initiatives that increase inclusivity, accountability, and community engagement in higher ed and science, especially for those from historically excluded backgrounds. She developed the Biomedical Application Assistance Program to increase transparency and provide resources and mentorship to students applying to the BMS Graduate Program (>800 students annually).  Rossitto also helped lead her program’s first-ever climate survey to identify groups of students with unmet needs, develop and execute evidence-based initiatives, and monitor outcomes for students from diverse backgrounds.

She has run many workshops on food and housing security, gender issues, and more for UCSD grad students. She is also passionate about mentoring, working with high school and college students both in the lab and through the organization Kesem. She aims to enable more diverse scientists to enter the biomedical field and work alongside her to address complex questions in disease and aging research.

Meridian Award Winners


Tandeka Boko, MD 

Assistant Professor of Life Sciences and Director of NASA NC Space Grant at Forsyth Technical Community College; and Visiting Faculty Program Research Collaborator with Berkeley National Laboratory 

Dr. Tandeka Boko earned her medical doctorate from the University of Iowa and completed her clinical training at Methodist Central Hospital. She now conducts research primarily in anatomy and physiology education at the community college level, focusing on learning how to learn. Her contributions were recognized by an Excellence in Teaching Award and the C. David Kepple Memorial Faculty Award. She recently added research projects in computational biology to expand her capacity to mentor underrepresented undergraduate STEM students.  

Dr. Boko facilitates community-based group discussions and activities around breaking down barriers that prevent marginalized people from obtaining food justice, equitable education, and safe living environments. She also collaborates with local and national leaders advocating for broader representation of ethnic minorities and women in STEM as well as educational and career pathways that improve their access, support, and retention. 

As faculty and staff in higher ed, she has been a committed member of the leadership of several grants, including National Science Foundation Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation, Re-Envisioning Culture Undergraduate Biology Education, Featuring Underrepresented Talent in Urban and Rural Engagement with Science and Department of Energy National Nuclear Security Agency Minority Serving Institution Partnership Program Successful Transitions and Effective Pathways to National Laboratories. 

Cristina Chuck-Hernández, PhD 

Full Research Professor at Tecnológico de Monterrey 

Dr. Cristina Chuck-Hernández is a research professor at the Bioengineering Department, Tecnológico de Monterrey, and affiliated with the Institute for Obesity Research within the Healthy Food Unit. She received a Bachelor’s of Engineering degree in Food Technology and Processing, a Master of Science and PhD in Biotechnology from Tecnológico de Monterrey, and a Master’s in Business Administration from Universidad Autónoma de Nuevo León (2009).  

Professionally, she has experience in Quality Assurance at Grupo Panificador Azteca and spent seven years as a consultant at IDEA, S.A de C.V. She also interned with UNIDO in Austria, emphasizing Energy and Climate Change. She was a foundational member of the Center for Protein Research and Development and actively championed the recruitment and mentorship of young female researchers 

Dr. Chuck-Hernández has received awards for her work including the “Mujer TEC” (2015) and the National Award in Food Science and Technology (2019). She’s a Level 2 member of the Sistema Nacional de Investigadores and was accepted into the Mexican Academy of Sciences in 2021.  

She advises the student group Women in Engineering and Science on campus and leads the “SheStem Chair” for the INGENIA program which promotes scientific vocation among women. She is also on the board of the first Mexican chapter of the Institute of Food Technologists, the first in Latin America. 

Atefeh Taheri, PhD 

Maintenance and Reliability Team Lead, Chevron 

Atefeh Taheri holds a B.Sc. and M.Sc. in Analytical Chemistry from Sharif University of Technology, Iran, and a Ph.D. in Chemistry from Johns Hopkins University working on light-initiated electron transfer reactions related to solar cells. Dr. Taheri moved to California and was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Davis, working on developing carbon dioxide conversion and hydrogen gas production catalysts, before transitioning to industry. She joined the Clorox Company as a product developer and formulator developing advanced disinfectants for healthcare facilities. She transitioned to Chevron Corporation as a fundamental scientist and has since assumed various organizational roles. 

Dr. Taheri currently serves as the Reliability and Maintenance Team Lead for the Western US lubricant plants and fuel terminals at Integrated Supply Chain within Chevron’s America Products business unit. In addition to her team lead role, she serves as the diversity and inclusion advisor for the global Integrated Supply Chain. 

She also holds leadership positions in various professional organizations, including serving as the 2023 Chair for the California section of the American Chemical Society (>3000 local CA membership) and actively engaging in the Association of Women in Science East Bay chapter. She is one of the leaders of Chevron PRIDE in Richmond—an Employee Resource Group supporting LGBTQA+ employees and allies. 

Zenith Award Winners



Hongmei Li-Byarlay, PhD 

Research Associate Professor of Entomology and the Project Director for Pollinator Health, Agricultural Research and Development Program at Central State University 

Dr. Hongmei Li-Byarlay is a tenured Research Associate Professor of Entomology at Central State University – the first woman to hold this position. She has received ~12 million dollars in USDA and NSF funding since 2017 including a USDA NEXTGEN grant which provides opportunities for minority students in agricultural research and extension. Her lab has trained 40 minority students (19 female) in bee research and leadership skills.  

She is a Fellow of the Royal Entomological Society and President-Elect of the International Branch of the Entomological Society of America (ESA). She is the past Chair of the Diversity Inclusion Committee of ESA and a member of the Diversity/Equity/Inclusion/Justice committee of the International Union for the Study of Social Insects (North American Section). 

Dr. Li-Byarlay is on the editorial board of Current Research in Insect Science and subject editor of the journal Nature Scientific Reports. She is also a member of the AAAS STEMM Equity Achievement (SEA) Change initiative and community, NSF INCLUDES National Network, and Science Policy Committee of ESA.  

She participated in the United Nation Development Programme Africa – HBCU Summit 78th Session United Nation General Assembly. She has served on several review panels for NSF and USDA grant proposals and published 49 peer-reviewed papers and 6 book chapters.  


Jennifer Reineke Pohlhaus, PhD, Certified Diversity Executive 

Chief Operating Officer at Ripple Effect 

Jennifer Reineke Pohlhaus holds a Bachelor’s and PhD degree in Biochemistry and a graduate certificate in Health Policy. Early in her career, Dr. Pohlhaus was selected as a recipient of the highly competitive AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellowship Program and for two years provided senior policymakers with authoritative analyses of women’s advancement in academic science and engineering.  

In 2008, Dr. Pohlhaus joined Ripple Effect, an award-winning firm, to lead science and health policy consulting projects for government agencies. She has collaborated with federal researchers in several peer-reviewed studies to measure diversity along the student-to-researcher workforce pipeline.  

Dr. Pohlhaus is a Certified Diversity Executive®, a former BioCareers blogger, an AWIS mentor, and has been a member of AWIS for more than a decade. She has held volunteer Board positions with the AAAS Fellows Advisory Committee, the Montgomery County Chapter of the Project Management Institute, the Montgomery College Institutional Review Board, and the National Postdoctoral Association.  

She believes in bringing one’s whole self to work and infuses this concept into the culture at Ripple Effect which has received awards for Wellness in addition to being named one of the Top 101 Best and Brightest Companies to work for in the Nation®. 


Angela K. Wilson, PhD 

John A. Hannah Distinguished Professor in the Department of Chemistry and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, College of Natural Sciences, and Director, MSU Center for Quantum Computing, Science, and Engineering at Michigan State University; Immediate Past President, American Chemical Society 

Angela K. Wilson’s research encompasses a number of theoretical and computational chemistry areas including the development of quantum mechanical and quantum dynamical methods, transition metal and heavy element chemistry, and environmental science, and drug discovery. Her computational methods are utilized worldwide. 

She has held leadership roles such as at the U.S. National Science Foundation, where she led the Division of Chemistry (2018-2020) and as President and member of the Board of Directors of the American Chemical Society, the world’s largest scientific society. Dr. Wilson has also served as Associate Vice Provost for Faculty at the University of North Texas (UNT), where she worked on issues such as faculty climate and faculty success. She also founded and led the Center for Advanced Scientific Computing and Modeling at UNT.  

Dr. Wilson is Vice-President of a non-profit, QuSTEAM, which connects colleges, universities, and companies towards a national equitable scale-up of quantum education, with training opportunities for our future workforce. Throughout her career, she has been a significant advocate of workplace diversity in STEM. 

She has received numerous honors and awards, has published ~200 papers on not only her research, but also on achieving equity in the workplace. She has mentored approximately 200 students and postdoctoral fellows in her research group. 

2022 Award Recipients
Image of Claudia Garnica-Díaz
Claudia Garnica-Díaz  — Spark Award PhD Student, Botany, The Grace P. John Lab, University of Florida As a PhD student from South America, Claudia Garnica-Díaz experienced challenges in relocating and beginning a PhD program in another country, especially one outside her native language. To improve the experience for future international PhD students, she designed and held a workshop which included academic strategies, avenues to connect with others (e.g., international social clubs), and basic administration (e.g., how to get a social security number).   She has recruited and mentored 15 undergraduate students from diverse backgrounds including Cuba, Mexico, and Iran to join Dr. Grace John’s Lab. She was also recently elected as Vice-President of the University of Florida’s chapter of the Society for the Advancement of Native Americans and Chicanos.  Garnica-Díaz has published two papers with international collaborators, one of which included the establishment of an open access database of Andean plant traits and a second review of tropical ultramafic ecosystems from her master’s degree research. The work from her master’s degree was featured in Forbes Magazine. 
Photo of Brandy E. Phipps, PhD Brandy E. Phipps, PhD — Spark Award Assistant Professor, Central State University  Dr. Phipps research and collaborations focus on how to transform food production systems in ways that protect natural resources, produce nutrient-dense products, and increase diversity in the agriculture and STEM workforce – focusing on underrepresented and historically disadvantaged communities. Her current research work provides significant funding for Native American students to complete STEM degrees and have cross-cultural and experiential learning opportunities, undergraduate research training, and peer-mentoring to help them gain leadership skills.  She has held or currently holds positions on IDEA councils/committees/task forces within her institution and professional societies, including her University’s DEI Council; the 2020 DEI task force of the American Society for Cell Biology; a multi-institutional committee to create equitable and sustainable partnerships between Predominately White Institutions (PWI) and Minority-Serving Institutions (MSI); a DEI taskforce/community of practice for aquaculture; and the 2022 AWIS National Education Awards Committee.   Dr. Phipps has served as a session presenter, conference moderator, and invited lecturer at a number of conferences, workshops, and departments – focusing on IDEA topics within STEM research and education. In addition, she has been called upon to provide testimony to and briefed U.S. Congress on two occasions.  
Photo of Abigail Stack Abigail Stack — Spark Award Discovery Pathology Research Lead, Bayer Crop Science  In her current role at Bayer Crop Science, Abigail Stack works to implement cutting-edge technologies to diagnose and control plant diseases. She has won multiple scientific and leadership awards at Bayer including R&D Science Fellow – a distinction reserved for the top 3% of Bayer R&D scientists globally who demonstrate technical excellence, project leadership, and science outreach.  She actively participates in two business resource groups – one for women in science (WiSE) and one for the LGBTQ+ community (BLEND). Last year, she organized a panel discussion to highlight past R&D Science Fellows and encouraged women to apply to the program. This year, she co-organized a Fellows coffee chat for the BLEND group to highlight inclusion and encourage folks of all backgrounds to apply.  Stack has held several leadership positions within the AWIS Sacramento Valley Chapter including webmaster, secretary, and president. Since 2018, she has organized the chapter’s annual mentorship program which includes ~60 individuals each year. She also served on the Annual Meeting Board for the American Phytopathological Society where she helped ensure speaker diversity in technical sessions.  
Photo of Reshma Jagsi MD DPhil
Reshma Jagsi, MD, DPhil — Meridian Award Newman Family Professor and Deputy Chair, Department of Radiation Oncology  
Director, Center for Bioethics and Social Sciences in Medicine (CBSSM), University of Michigan
Dr. Jagsi’s research on the underrepresentation of women has reframed gender disparities as an ethical issue and led institutions, funders, and professional societies to change their policies regarding mentoring relationships, flexible work schedules, and transparency of compensation and promotion criteria. Her innovative research has also provided more autonomy and individualized care for breast cancer patients.   
As deputy chair of her department, she is responsible for recruitment, development, promotion, and retention of a diverse faculty, redesign of the compensation plan, leads philanthropic development efforts, and oversees medical student and residency education as the Residency Program Director.  As CBSSM Director, she leads over 50 faculty from multiple departments and schools, along with a staff of research associates and administrators in a tripartite mission that includes clinical service, education, and research.  Dr. Jagsi has demonstrated a steadfast commitment to gender equity at UM, where she co-chaired the task force on civility in the learning environment for the school’s re-accreditation, serves on the ADVANCE committee for women in medicine, served on the Anti-Racism Oversight Committee, and participated in the UM President’s committee to address cultural transformation across all of its campuses. She is the author of over 400 articles in peer-reviewed journals (H-index 80) and a fellow of ASCO, ASTRO, the Hastings Center, and the American Association of Women Radiologists.  
Photo of Darlene A.Mitrano PhD Darlene Mitrano, PhD — Meridian Award Associate Professor, Department of Neuroscience, Department of Molecular Biology and Chemistry, Christopher Newport University (CNU)  Dr. Mitrano’s research program focuses on the neuroanatomical correlates of psychiatric or psychological disorders, such as addiction, reward, insomnia, etc. She was hired by CNU to expand the new neuroscience program. She was instrumental in establishing animal care and use policies, securing the university’s first NIH grant, and hiring vendors to oversee the facility and comply with public health and laboratory animal welfare laws.   A strong advocate of inclusion, diversity, equity, and accessibility (IDEA), Dr. Mitrano is a member of CNU’s LGBTQ+ and Allies Faculty/Staff Affinity Group and helped establish Brain Awareness month to promote awareness of individuals’ gender, race, age, and weight biases. She has recruited students from a variety of backgrounds and supported students going through financial hardship.   She is Chair of the International Studies Advisory Committee and was elected the Regional Vice President of the South for Nu Rho Psi, the National Honor Society in Neuroscience. She was recently appointed to the new Laboratory Safety and Compliance Committee, chairing the subcommittee on Controlled Substances, to help CNU uphold OSHA lab safety standards. 
Photo of Roshell Muir PhD Roshell Muir, PhD — Meridian Award Senior Research Associate, College of Medicine, Drexel University Dr. Roshell Muir conducts her research in the Division of Infectious Diseases and HIV medicine at Drexel University. She has led various collaborations with groups from the Thai Red Cross and Military HIV Research Program, and the University of Washington. At Drexel, she co-founded the Postdoctoral Association and led its Resource Development Committee. She also served on the Women in Medicine and Science Committee and chaired the Women’s Leadership Summit 2020 Social and Advertising Subcommittee. As a member of the AWIS Philadelphia Chapter, Dr. Muir has served as Vice-President, Programs, Secretary and now President-Elect. She instituted the lunch and learn program as a way to offer important career development information in small, easily digestible bits. As an immigrant from the Caribbean and a woman of color, she has strived to schedule more diverse speakers and topics.
Photo of Rita Colwell PhD Rita R. Colwell, PhD — Zenith Award Distinguished Professor, the University of Maryland and Johns Hopkins University Bloomberg School of Public Health, Chair and Founder, CosmosID, and President of the Rosalind Franklin Society Despite being discouraged from pursuing science as a career, Dr. Colwell persevered, and as a result, her research on the use of remote sensing to predict cholera epidemics has vastly improved public health outcomes around the world. She was the first woman to serve as director of the National Science Foundation (1998-2004). Under her leadership, the organization assessed the extent of discrimination and harassment in the sciences, enhanced education and participation of underrepresented groups, and launched the ADVANCE initiative, which supports the advancement of women in academic science and engineering careers. In her book, A Lab of One’s Own: One Woman’s Personal Journey Through Sexism in Science, Dr. Colwell describes the harassment and discrimination she encountered in her career and solutions to address it. She has received many national and international awards as well as honorary degrees and held many advisory positions in the U.S. government, nonprofit science policy organizations, private foundations, and the international scientific research community.
Photo of Barbara Di Eugenio PhD Barbara Di Eugenio, PhD — Zenith Award Professor, Director of Graduate Studies Department of Computer Science, College of Engineering, University of Illinois Chicago (UIC) Dr. Di Eugenio works in Artificial Intelligence and NLP (Natural Language Processing), investigating human-human interactions in order to inform technology that solves important societal problems. She has held leadership positions within the Association for Computational Linguistics (ACL), including serving on the ACL executive board from 2018 to 2020. Dr. Di Eugenio was part of the team that worked on a National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant that ran at UIC from 2005 to 2012. This program changed the gender representation in the Computer Science department and the College of Engineering; spearheaded initiatives such as bias training for faculty search committees that are now required at UIC; and investigated and suggested changes to university policies as concerns family leave, tenure rollbacks, and the like. She also designed the class Research Methods for Computer Science (CS590), intended to provide PhD students from varying educational backgrounds with foundational information (up to 90% of PhD students at UIC are international). Di Eugenio has received numerous awards, grants, and honors. She has authored more than 120 publications and graduated 14 PhD students (almost half of which were women), and 31 MS students.
Photo of Usha Rao PhD Usha Rao, PhD — Zenith Award Professor of Chemistry, Saint Joseph’s University Dr. Rao is an author of many scientific publications in her field of environmental geochemistry, studying water pollution and sustainability. She serves as an Approved Expert Reviewer for the United Nations Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change and is a Mentor for Vice President Al Gore’s climate initiative, Climate Reality, volunteering her time to train climate activists and groups in climate science. At Saint Joseph’s University, Dr. Rao is the first woman to hold the rank of Full Professor in Chemistry, and the first person of color in the Natural Sciences to hold that rank. She created the University’s Office of Teaching and Learning which reaches several hundred faculty per year through its programs. Additionally, she co–developed the John P. McNulty Program for Leadership in Science and Mathematics to prepare gifted undergraduate women to persist and lead in the STEM fields. Her efforts have changed the structures of existing systems to welcome and empower women and minorities by providing financial, professional, and social support. Dr. Rao has served as a role model and mentor for thousands of students over her career and received the Elizabeth Bingham Mentoring Award from the Philadelphia chapter of AWIS. She is currently preparing an article for Lab Manager on ways in which employers can support women in STEM as they journey through important stages in their lives and careers. She also speaks on how STEM businesses can use reverse mentoring to jump start women and minorities’ leadership development.
2021 Award Recipients
AWIS Leadership Award Recipient Dr. Maria Belen Carrillo-Rivas

Leadership Award

Commending an experienced STEM leader for fostering a high representation of women in leadership and supportive workplace policies.
Dr. Maria Belen Carrillo-Rivas is a Pharmaceutical Business Executive and Drug Developer with a strong scientific background in driving the industry-leading pharmaceutical organization’s performance, quality, innovation, and excellence. As the recipient of 2021 Association of Women in Science (AWIS) Leadership Award. She’s pioneering a regulatory path forward for people living with rare diseases. Dr. Carrillo-Rivas played an integral role in the COVID-19 mRNA vaccine EUA submission and spearheaded decisions on submission strategy, readiness, and clinical data quality. Her diverse background is in academia, pharmaceutical, and biotech with expertise in preclinical sciences, clinical development, and regulatory submissions. She has a proven track record of leading large product portfolios, R&D programs, and complex regulatory submissions, building productive business partnerships that result in quality, sustainability, and business growth.
2020 Award Recipients

Leadership Award

Commending an experienced STEM leader for fostering a high representation of women in leadership and supportive workplace policies.
Rachel Hutter, P.E. is Senior Vice President for International Facilities Operations Services and Worldwide Safety, Health and Engineering with Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Today Rachel is fulfilling her childhood dream as she leads engineering at Disney Parks, Experiences and Products. Throughout her more than 22-year career with Disney, Rachel has held 10 different roles. Her current responsibilities span the globe to include oversight of teams in Anaheim, Orlando, Paris, Tokyo, Hong Kong and Shanghai.

Pinnacle Award

Honoring an individual’s lifetime of innovative achievements in STEM and commitment to workplace diversity.
Dr. Nisreen El-Hashemite is an internationally recognized scientist and scholar,  winner of awards in the fields of science, arts, literature, and humanitarian affairs and author of several scientific papers, studies and books. Her career started in 1995 at University of London hospitals and institutes. Dr. El-Hashemite is the first Royal Princess qualified in science and medicine, having earned a Bachelor of Biomedical Sciences, Master of Science, Medical Doctorate (MD) and a Doctorate (PhD) in Human Genetics.

Next Generation Award

Highlighting an early career leader in STEM who is a visible and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusive scientific practices.
Dr. Sarah Richardson is a computational and molecular biologist, as well as an entrepreneur. Dr. Richardson earned a Bachelor of Science in Biology at the University of Maryland College Park and a Doctorate of Human Genetics and Molecular Biology from the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She leads the construction of genomic toolkits for non‐model prokaryotes, which she describes as using DNA to train bacteria to do tricks on command.

Game Changer Award

Recognizing an exemplary company whose diversity and inclusion efforts represent a true ally to the pursuit of workplace equality.
Lockheed Martin is a Fortune 500 company that ensures workplace equity, diversity and inclusion, and the advancement of women in leadership.
2019 Award Recipients

Pinnacle Award

Honoring an individual’s lifetime of innovative achievements in STEM and commitment to workplace diversity.
Carol W. Greider, PhD, is the Daniel Nathans Professor, and Director of Molecular Biology and Genetics and a Bloomberg Distinguished Professor at Johns Hopkins University. Dr. Greider received her bachelor’s degree from the University of California at Santa Barbara in 1983 and a Ph.D. in 1987 from the University of California at Berkeley. In 1984, working together with Dr. Elizabeth Blackburn, she discovered telomerase, an enzyme that maintains telomeres, or chromosome ends. At Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, she cloned and characterized the RNA component of telomerase. She expanded the focus of her telomere research to include the role of telomere length in cellular senescence, cell death and in cancer. In 1997, Dr. Greider moved her laboratory to the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics at The Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. In 2003 she was appointed as the Daniel Nathans Professor and Director of the Department of Molecular Biology and Genetics. At Johns Hopkins University, Dr. Greider’s group continued to study the biochemistry of telomerase and determined the secondary structure of the human telomerase RNA. In addition she characterized the loss of telomere function in mice, which allowed an understanding of short telomere syndromes in humans such as bone marrow failure, pulmonary fibrosis and other diseases. Dr. Greider shared the Nobel Prize in Physiology or Medicine in 2009 with Drs. Elizabeth Blackburn and Jack Szostak for their work on telomeres and telomerase. Dr. Greider currently directs a group of eight scientists studying both the role of short telomeres in age-related disease and cancer as well as the regulatory mechanism that maintain telomere length.

Leadership Award

Commending an experienced STEM leader for fostering a high representation of women in leadership and supportive workplace policies.
Freda C. Lewis-Hall, MD, DFAPA, is Pfizer’s Executive Vice President and Chief Patient Officer. During her 35-year career, Dr. Lewis-Hall has been on the frontlines of health care from the standpoints of a clinician, a researcher, and a leader in the biopharmaceuticals and life sciences industries. The common threads throughout have been her passion to advocate for better outcomes for all patients and her commitment to mentoring the next generations of women leaders in science and medicine. Trained as a psychiatrist, Dr. Lewis-Hall began her medical career in patient care and became well known for her work on the effects of mental illness on families and communities and on issues of health care disparities. She has held positions of leadership at the Howard University Hospital and College of Medicine, Vertex, Bristol-Myers Squibb, Eli Lilly and Pfizer. For the past decade, Lewis-Hall has served as Pfizer’s Chief Medical Officer, responsible for the safe, effective and appropriate use of Pfizer’s medicines and vaccines, and in this role she reshaped Pfizer’s medical policies and practices to intensify the company’s focus on patient engagement and inclusion. In her new role as Chief Patient Officer of Pfizer, Lewis-Hall will work to extend the reach of Pfizer’s patient-facing health information and education and amplify the voice of the patient inside and outside Pfizer.

Next Generation Award

Highlighting an early career leader in STEM who is a visible and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusive scientific practices.
Mareena Robinson Snowden, PhD, is Stanton Nuclear Security Fellow at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace. Her research focuses on nuclear arms control verification sufficiency, nonproliferation, and modernization. Prior to joining Carnegie, Dr. Robinson Snowden served as a National Nuclear Security Administration (NNSA) Graduate Fellow in the Office of Major Modernization Programs. This office is responsible for the modernization of warhead systems and ensuring access to the strategic materials used in the U.S. stockpile. Dr. Robinson Snowden became the first black woman to earn a Doctorate in Nuclear Engineering from MIT in 2017 and holds a Bachelor in Physics from Florida A&M University. Her story in STEM has been featured in MARVEL Comics, CNBC, BET and other national television, radio and print media.
2018 Award Recipients

Pinnacle Award

Honoring an individual’s lifetime of innovative achievements in STEM and commitment to workplace diversity.
Sue Desmond-Hellmann, MD, MPH, is the 2018 recipient of the AWIS Pinnacle Award which recognizes her contributions in STEM as a scientist, physician, philanthropist, and mentor. As Chief Executive Officer of the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, Sue leads the organization’s vision for a world where every person has the opportunity to live a healthy, productive life. Under her watch, the foundation has also been pushing harder on women’s empowerment while working towards closing gender data gaps to help accelerate progress for women around the world. Forbes magazine has named her one of the world’s seven most “powerful innovators” and in her current role she champions global development by getting the right interventions, to the right populations, in the right places, to save lives. She is the recipient of numerous honors and awards. Sue was listed among Fortune magazine’s “top 50 most powerful women in business” for seven years and, in 2010, was inducted into the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and elected to the Institute of Medicine.

Leadership Award

Commending an experienced STEM leader for fostering a high representation of women in leadership and supportive workplace policies.
Melinda Richter, MBA, is the Global Head of Johnson & Johnson Innovation, JLABS. In her role, she fosters the Johnson & Johnson Family of Companies external R&D engine and supports the innovation community by creating capital-efficient commercialization models that give early stage companies a big company advantage. Melinda has received numerous industry awards including: the PharmaVOICE 100; Fierce Biotech Top 15 Women; Most Influential Women in Business (San Francisco Business Times); MM&M 2017 Healthcare Transformer; BIO Super Hero; and Fast Company’s Most Innovative Company in Biotech. She serves on various boards and advisory panels and is currently board member and Treasurer of the California Life Sciences Association (CLSA).

Game Changer Award

Recognizing an exemplary company whose diversity and inclusion efforts represent a true ally to the pursuit of workplace equality.
Salesforce is the global leader in customer relationship management (CRM), and is committed to a set of core values—trust, growth, innovation, and equality of every human being. For its efforts, Salesforce has been named the 2017 World’s Best Workplace by Great Place to Work, one of Fortune’s Best Workplaces for Diversity three years in a row, and one of Comparably’s Best Companies for Women. Leading the charge on Equality and reporting directly to CEO Marc Benioff, Tony Prophet will be accepting the award on behalf of Salesforce. As its Chief Equality Officer, Prophet is focused on gender, LGBTQ, and racial issues—ensuring the company reflects the diversity and upholds the values of the communities it serves.

Next Generation Award

Highlighting an early career leader in STEM who is a visible and vocal advocate for diversity and inclusive scientific practices.
Rachel Haurwitz, PhD, is a co-founder of Caribou Biosciences and has been President and CEO since its inception. She has a research background in CRISPR-Cas biology, and is also a co-founder of Intellia Therapeutics. Rachel is an inventor on several patents and patent applications covering multiple CRISPR-derived technologies, and she has co-authored scientific papers in high impact journals characterizing CRISPR-Cas systems. Rachel earned an A.B. in Biological Sciences from Harvard College, and received a Ph.D. in Molecular and Cell Biology from the University of California, Berkeley. This award draws specific attention to her continued innovation at the helm of Caribou Biosciences, as well as her commitment to diversity and progressive workplace policies.

Featured Partners


Thank you to our featured partners for their support of AWIS.

We are grateful for all AWIS donors and supporters for helping women in science and related STEM fields achieve their dreams and reach their full potential.