Monday, Jun 24th

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You are here: Events PAST EVENTS Cancun 2013 Conference Forum on Women in STEM



This year, we will offer a session to discuss Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM). The 2013 LACCEI session on "Women in STEM" will feature a report on STEM women faculty in Puerto Rico from the U.S. National Science Foundation's ADVANCE Hispanic Women in STEM project as an exemplar of a professional network. We are interested in hearing about other initiatives for women that exist throughout Latin America and the Caribbean and will examine opportunities to build more connections within the LACCEI community. Suggestions from this workshop will be compiled into a report for LACCEI that will be available in the online proceedings to inform the community about programs that support current and future women STEM professionals. All are invited to this session, which is designed to engage women at all levels (students, postdocs, professors, and professionals), and from all backgrounds and countries, in a conversation on career choices, life/work balance, and the impact of family and traditions on advancement decisions.

This Forum is a continuation of the Women in Engineering Initiative started in 2010 by LACCEI and the Organization of American States (OAS) Engineering for the Americas (EftA), and supports the OAS Ministers of Science and Technology’s Vision 20/25 in Science, Technology, and Innovation for the Americas: Hemispheric Cooperation for Competitiveness and Prosperity in a Knowledge Economy and Plan of Action of Panama (Group 2).  This Plan of Action proposes to increase the number of female and male graduates in science, technology, engineering and technical education.

The Vision 20/25 and Action Plan target the goal for 2025 to increase by at least 50% the number of female and male graduates in STEM.

Women in STEM Forum Chairs

Renetta G. Tull, PhD
Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Student Development and Postdoctoral Affairs, UMBC
Director, PROMISE: Maryland's Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP)
University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC, USA)

Dr. Renetta Tull, a former Assistant Dean, serves as the Associate Vice Provost for Graduate Student Professional Development & Postdoctoral Affairs at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC: An Honors University in Maryland).  She is the Director and Co-Principal Investigator (Co-PI) of the National Science Foundation’s (NSF) PROMISE: Maryland’s Alliance for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP), and Liaison for Institutional Collaboration in the Chancellor’s Office at the Universidad Metropolitana in San Juan, Puerto Rico. She is a coach and mentor for future faculty diversity and is an invited speaker for programs across the U.S. including the National GEM Consortium, the National Society of Black Engineers, the Society for Hispanic Professional Engineers, the Society for the Advancement of Chicano and Native American Scientists, and the American Indian Science and Engineering Society.  Her paper on  Preparing for Engineering and Other STEM Graduate/Post-Graduate Masters and Doctoral Programs was presented at LACCEI 2012 in Panama. 

Tull earned the B.S. in Electrical Engineering from Howard University, and both the M.S. in Electrical Engineering and the Ph.D. in Speech Science from Northwestern University.  She was an Anna Julia Cooper Postdoctoral Fellow and Assistant Professor of Communicative Disorders at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, researching speaker recognition technology and rehabilitation engineering prior to coming to UMBC. Tull is Co-PI for the ADVANCE Hispanic Women in STEM project in Puerto Rico, and has co-authored several publications about achievement in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) fields. While most of her direct women mentees have been current and future graduate students, she has been an invited speaker at national meetings for advancing women faculty, and has been interviewed for videos, radio, and and print media on the topic of women and girls in STEM at all levels, from K-12 through professional ranks.  In addition to her affiliations in Maryland, she is a member of the QoLT faculty for a collaborative NSF Engineering Research Center with Carnegie Mellon and the University of Pittsburgh, a consultant for mentoring programs at Purdue and Cornell, and an MSRP advisor at MIT. She was recently inducted into Tau Beta Pi as an “Eminent Engineer.”

Beatriz Zayas Riveras, PhD
Catedrática Asociada, Escuela de Asuntos Ambientales
Associate Professor, School of Environmental Affairs
Universidad Metropolitana (UMET, USA)

Dr. Beatriz Zayas is Associate Professor and Director of the Chemical, Molecular,and Environmental Toxicology (ChemTox) Laboratory in the School of Environmental Affairs at Universidad Metropolitana (UMET), in San Juan, Puerto Rico, and adjunct professor at the University of Puerto Rico, School of Medicine affiliated with the department of Pharmacology and Toxicology. She is currently supported by the USFS to study the presence of environmental carcinogens in sediments of the Cucharillas Marshland.  In addition to environmental research, Dr. Zayas collaborates with medicinal chemists in the testing of novel anti cancer drugs. Her local collaborative efforts with Dr. O. Cox have resulted in multiple peer reviewed publications and recently in 2012 a Patent (No US 8,124,770 B2) for the development and biological activities of novel fluorescent compounds with potential applications for cancer treatment or detection.

Dr. Zayas obtained the B.S. in Biology from Universidad de Puerto Rico, and the M.S. in Epidemiology from the Medical Sciences Campus of the UPR. Her Ph.D. in Molecular Toxicology is from the University of Pittsburgh, and she completed postdoctoral fellowships in "Breast Cancer and DNA Repair at the University of Pittsburgh," and in" Biomarkers of Exposure to Environmental Carcinogens and Anticancer drugs" at  MIT. Dr. Zayas is a researcher with the Puerto Rico Alliance for the Advancement of Biomedical Research Excellence, and has had projects sponsored by the National Institutes of Health.  She is interested in developing a strong network among Hispanic women scientists in Puerto Rico, and is the Co-PI of the ADVANCE Hispanic Women in STEM project, sponsored by the National Science Foundation. She has presented on Women in STEM at the ADVANCE PI meeting in Alexandria, Virginia, and has been a special guest speaker on issues of women in STEM in Puerto Rico.  She enjoys mentoring postdoctoral fellows, graduate and undergraduate students, and her passion is in the areas of advancing women's opportunities for research while balancing life and family.


Dr. Bevlee A. Watford, P.E.
Associate Dean for Academic Affairs.
Founding Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity(CEED)for the College of Engineering, Virginia Tech

Dr. Bevlee A. Watford, P.E. is a Professor of Engineering Education, associate dean for academic affairs and the Founding Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity (CEED) for the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. She received her B.S. in Mining Engineering, and her M.S. and Ph.D. in Industrial Engineering and Operations Research from Virginia Tech. She is the founding Director of the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity, the Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and a Professor of Engineering Education in the College of Engineering at Virginia Tech. She served as Interim Department Head for Engineering Education from 2010 to 2011. From 2005-07, she was on leave from Virginia Tech, serving as a program manager in the Division of Undergraduate Education for the National Science Foundation. Dr. Watford has been the recipient of numerous awards for her work including the 2008 WEPAN Founders Award in recognition of her service to WEPAN and her efforts to increase the participation of women in the engineering profession. She is a 2010 Fellow of the American Society for Engineering Education (ASEE). CEED was awarded the 2010 Claire Felbinger Diversity Award by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology. In 2011 CEED received the NSBE-ExxonMobil Impact award for implementing successful research based efforts to improve retention. She was the ASEE Chair of Professional Interest Council (PIC) IV for 2010-12 as well as Chair of the ASEE Diversity Committee. She is currently serving as Vice President for External Relations for ASEE (2013-2015). In all, Watford has secured more than $6.5 million dollars in funding and support for the Center for the Enhancement of Engineering Diversity and other undergraduate initiatives from a variety of sources including the National Science Foundation, the State Council of Higher Education in Virginia, General Electric Foundation, Intel, Sloan Foundation, Corning Foundation, Honeywell International, Ingersol Rand, HHMI and Microsoft. Her research activities have focused on the recruitment and retention of students in engineering, with a particular emphasis on under-represented students. The CEED office has implemented nationally recognized programs that have enhanced the success of all students. These include freshman peer mentoring, summer bridge for incoming freshman and residential living-learning communities.


OAS EftA Encuentro Chairs/Moderators

Martha Beltran-Martínez
Office of Science, Technology and Innovation
Organization of American States
María Mercedes Larrondo Petrie, PhD
Co-Chair of Engineering Education Initiatives, Engineering for the Americas
LACCEI Executive Director