Biological Sciences to receive Advance-NE award

Advance-Nebraska will confer its annual Chancellor’s Advance-NE Initiative Award to the School of Biological Sciences. The school's efforts to recruit and retain women in STEM (science, technology, engineering or math) disciplines at UNL will be recognized at a reception beginning at 3 p.m. Feb. 9 in the Van Brunt Visitors Center. The award carries a $1,000 prize.

The department has successfully built a faculty that is more representative of female-male ratio in the discipline by implementing a proactive hiring policy in the 1990s.

Some 37 percent of the school’s faculty are women, up from 10 percent 20 years ago. The school has aggressively pursued a dual-career hiring strategy and half of its female faculty have dual-career partners. The school also has utilized the opportunity-hire strategy to recruit female partners of faculty hired in other disciplines. Currently 16 of the school’s 45 budgeted or partially budgeted faculty are women.

The school also has worked to help increase the visibility of women scientists by inviting women scientists to present at departmental seminars. Several faculty have leadership roles in Advance-NE initiatives. Several faculty actively mentor junior female faculty and the department’s women have been recognized for their efforts in promoting women in science. For example, Alexandra Basolo, professor, received an “Outstanding Contributions to the Status of Women” award; Eileen Hebets, associate professor, and Sabrina Russo, assistant professor, received Edgerton Junior Faculty awards from UNL; Basolo, Hebets, Forbes and Zoya Avramova, professor, have served on journal editorial boards. Avramova, Russo, Hebets and Gwen Bachman, associate professor, have served on National Science Foundation grant panels.

This is the second year of the award. The inaugural award went to Electrical Engineering.
In 2008, UNL received a $3.8 million Advance program grant from the NSF. The goal of Advance-NE is to create an environment at UNL where all science, technology, engineering and mathematics faculty thrive. The grant supports best practices to increase recruitment and retention of women STEM faculty and efforts to study what practices best support their academic success.

— Kim Hachiya, University Communications

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