AWIS Announces 2023 Award Winners

October 13, 2023



Shelley O’Brien

Association for Women in Science Announces 2023 Award Winners

WASHINGTON DC, October 13, 2023 – The Association for Women in Science (AWIS) is pleased to announce the recipients of this year’s Spark, Meridian, and Zenith awards which recognize AWIS members who demonstrate strong leadership skills, innovative thinking, and a commitment to inclusivity, diversity, equity, and accessibility in STEM.

AWIS received dozens of nominations highlighting members who launched initiatives to identify gaps and opportunities, designed and established programs to fill these needs, and fostered welcoming and supportive STEM environments. Their efforts included outreach to historically excluded communities, mentoring programs for first-generation low-income students, creating virtual learning to support rural or disadvantaged students, managing grants focused on gender and minority support, developing DEI action plans to ensure inclusion environments, chairing committees, training leaders, and encouraging, recognizing and supporting women in science.

“These women epitomize the values of AWIS,” said Meredith Gibson, AWIS CEO. “We recognize that diverse perspectives, experiences, and backgrounds are critical to driving innovation and progress in scientific fields, and we are committed to promoting diversity, equity, and inclusion in STEM. AWIS is thrilled to recognize these members and appreciate the contributions of all our nominees.”

The Annual AWIS Award recipients for 2023 are:

SPARK AWARD – Highlights students or early career leaders in STEM who are visible and vocal advocates for diversity and inclusive scientific practices.


MERIDIAN AWARD – Recognizes mid-career professionals whose diversity and inclusion efforts represent true leadership in the pursuit of workplace equity.

  • 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
  • Cristina Chuck-Hernández, PhD, Full Research Professor at Tecnológico de Monterrey
  • Atefeh Taheri, PhD, Maintenance and Reliability Team Lead, Chevron


ZENITH AWARD – Honors senior career professionals with a lifetime of innovative achievements in STEM and a commitment to workplace diversity.

  • 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
  • Jennifer Pohlhaus, PhD, Certified Diversity Executive, Chief Operating Officer at Ripple Effect
  • 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


For more information on the award winners, visit


About AWIS: Founded in 1971, AWIS has been the leading advocate for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) to achieve business growth, social change, and innovation. We are dedicated to driving excellence in STEM by achieving equity and full participation of women in all disciplines and across all employment sectors. In addition to scholarships, AWIS provides career resources, professional development, as well as networking, mentoring, and volunteer opportunities to build leadership skills. To learn more, visit and @AWISNational.