2021 Women in Science Symposium
'Inclusivity Builds A Better World'

April 22, 2021
9 a.m. – 2:30 p.m.
Virtual Event

Join a gender-inclusive community from Northern Colorado to engage in this virtual half-day event and network with others from academic and industry backgrounds interested in promoting inclusivity in science.

The 2021 Women in Science Symposium, titled ‘Inclusivity Builds A Better World’, is hosted by the Women in Science Network and the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences (CVMBS) Diversity and Inclusion Committee.

This symposium, our 5th annual event, will be kicked off by a greeting from President Joyce McConnell and will feature 15 minute WISS Talks, poetry readings by CSU preeminent poets, a panel discussion on supporting inclusivity in science and a ‘Sciku’ workshop designed especially for K-12 attendees. Breakout groups will permit opportunity to ask questions of our WISS Talk participants and foster conversation among the WiSCI community.

This symposium is free and open to the public, however please register by April 21, 2021.

For those registering from outside the Northern Colorado area, please join us as an honorary NoCo community member in the Attendee type drop down menu. We will collect your correct location from the address you enter.


All times are in MDT.

9 a.m. Introduce Kari (Logistics and Program)
9:05 – 9:10  a.m. Greetings and introductions from morning hosts – Anna Fagre, Laura St. Clair
9:10 – 9:20 a.m. Colorado State University Land Grant Acknowledgement
9:20 – 9:30 a.m. President McConnell (Video)
9:30 – 10 a.m. Dan Beachy Quick Poetry reading

WISS Talks Session 1: Empowering Young Scientists
10 – 10:15 a.m. Sarita Menon
10:15 – 10:30 a.m. Seanna Leath
10:30 – 11 a.m. Q&A

11-11:10 Break – Science Selfies

WISS Talks Session 2: Mentorship in Science… and beyond
11:10 – 11:25 a.m. Charlotte Japp and Marci Alboher
11:25 – 11:40 a.m. Bridgette Johnson
11:40 a.m. – 12:10 p.m. Q&A

12:10 – 12:45 p.m. Lunch – Science Selfies

12:45 – 12:50 p.m. Greetings and introductions from afternoon hosts – Zaid Abdo, Toni Piaggio
12:50 -1:50 p.m. Sciku Workshop K-12 – Dan Beachy-Quick
12:50 – 1:50 p.m. ‘Manel’ Panel
Moderator: Lise Youngblade Panelists: Edward Hoover, Gregg Dean, Morris Price, Gilbert John, Rick Bias, Scott Nielsen, Ben Mayer, Mike Kohler
1:50 – 2 p.m. Students read their Sciku
2 – 2:05 p.m. Final Symposium Remarks – Kandi Mathiason
2:05 – 2:30 p.m. Camille Dungy Poetry Reading

2021 WISS Speakers

Session 1 Talks: Empowering Young Scientists

Sarita Menon

Sarita Menon
Founder, Smore Science Magazine

Dr. Sarita Menon is the founder of Smore, a publication that inspires young children especially girls to dream big and embrace their own brilliance. Dr. Menon holds a Bachelors in Chemistry, a Masters in Biotechnology and a Ph.D. in Cancer Biology. With more than 17 years of combined experience as a scientific researcher and educator, she launched a children’s science enrichment company in 2015. Driven by a mission to see a better representation of women in STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math), she went on to launch the international publication Smore in 2017. Dr. Menon is aiming to shine the spotlight on all the brilliant yet invisible women in science and technology thus providing our younger generation with much needed visible role models. Today Dr. Menon’s purpose and passion lie in building scientific literacy skills in our children and preparing them for a future of seen and unseen challenges.

Seanna Leath

Seanna Leath
Associate Professor, University of Virginia

Dr. Leath is an Assistant Professor at the University of Virginia in the Community Psychology Department. She uses interdisciplinary approaches in education and psychology to understand and address issues related to the holistic development of Black girls and women in the context of families, schools, and communities. Specifically, her work focuses on how race and gender identity beliefs support psychological resilience among Black girls, and exploring the influence of discrimination and stigma in institutional contexts on the academic and psychosocial outcomes of racial/ethnic minority students. Dr. Leath is the founder of Black Girls Learn, Experiment, and Play (LEAP) – a newly funded fellowship through 500 Women Scientists that provides community-based experiential STEM learning opportunities for Black girls in K-5th grade, who live in one of the lower-income housing communities within Charlottesville. She was also recently awarded a National Center for Institutional Diversity Grant to examine the associations between Black student’s perceptions of their institutional climate, self-reported rates of mental health service utilization, and wellness through a mixed methodological study.

Session 2 Talks: Mentorship in Science… and beyond

Charlotte Japp

Charlotte Japp
Founder, CIRKEL

Charlotte Japp is the founder of CIRKEL, a company that connects older and younger professionals for mutual personal and professional growth. After graduating from Georgetown University, Charlotte started her career in creative marketing and saw the consequences of age segregation in the workplace. Older and younger professionals needed to connect and learn from each other, but had no way to meet. CIRKEL makes networking across generations seamless, inspiring, and impactful – working with both individuals and corporations to bridge the gap. Charlotte has been featured in publications like The New York Times and spoken internationally about the magic of connecting generations.

Marci Alboher

Marci Alboher
Vice President, Encore.org

Marci Alboher, one of the nation’s leading authorities on career issues and workplace trends, is a vice president at Encore.org. Marci’s current focus is on the power of connecting, collaborating and innovating across the generations. A former blogger and columnist for The New York Times, her latest book is “The Encore Career Handbook: How to Make a Living and a Difference in the Second Half of Life.” Marci is regularly called upon for commentary in media outlets around the world, and she has been interviewed by countless news organizations, including NBC’s Today and Nightly News, National Public Radio, AARP and USA Today. She is a Senior Advisor to Girls Write Now, and serves as a mentor-editor for The OpEd Project. Earlier in her career, she spent a decade practicing law. She lives in New York City with her husband Jay and French Bulldog Sinatra

Bridgette Johnson, Director of the Black/African American Cultural Center at Colorado State University. January 25, 2021

Bridgette Johnson
Managing Director of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Student Success, Colorado State University
Former Director, Black/African American Cultural Center, Colorado State University
Founder, MURALS, United in STEMM

Bridgette Johnson lives to make a difference, to empower and challenge those around her. Making a difference not to benefit self, but a difference that will elevate those who have been marginalized and oppressed. She is known as someone who serves as a voice to those who have been silenced and one willing to give up her seat for those who are not at the table while asking, “How can she support the cause.” She realizes perspectives are amongst millions based on environment so she challenges herself and others to look beyond what appears to be the obvious, understanding we see the world not as it is but as we are. She empowers individuals to go beyond their potential and to look at life with a critical eye in order make a difference, not be the difference. Bridgette works toward accomplishing these attributes through her daily personal life as a mother of two girls and as a wife. Professionally, she serves as the Managing Director for Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Student Success. She has almost 30 years of experience working in the areas of Recruitment & Retention, Student Success, Student Affairs, Diversity Equity, and Inclusion, pre-College as well as OEO while also serving as an avid community advocate for social change and inclusion through an equity lens. Bridgette has definitely found her passion and believes she is working towards achieving work-life integration as she finds quality time for her family, to travel, read and for community care which includes self. Bridgette received her Bachelors of Arts in Communication with a minor in Political Science from the University of Wisconsin-Parkside and her Masters of Science in Student Personnel Administration in Higher Education from Concordia University-Wisconsin.

Interactive Session: Poetry Readings

Camille Dungy

Camille Dungy
University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University

Camille T. Dungy is the author of the essay collection Guidebook to Relative Strangers: Journeys into Race, Motherhood, and History (W. W. Norton, 2017), a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, and four collections of poetry, most recently Trophic Cascade (Wesleyan UP, 2017). She edited Black Nature: Four Centuries of African American Nature Poetry (UGA, 2009), co-edited the From the Fishouse poetry anthology (Persea, 2009), and served as assistant editor on Gathering Ground: Celebrating Cave Canem’s First Decade (University of Michigan Press, 2006). She is the poetry editor for Orion magazine. Dungy’s work has appeared in Best American Poetry, 100 Best African American PoemsBest American Essays, Best American Travel Essays, the Pushcart Anthology and more than 30 other anthologies, plus dozens of print and online venues including Poetry, American Poetry Review, VQR, Literary HubThe Paris Review, and Poets.org. Her honors include a Guggenheim Fellowship, an American Book Award, a Colorado Book Award, two Northern California Book Awards, two NAACP Image Award Nominations, and fellowships from the NEA in both prose and poetry. Dungy is currently a University Distinguished Professor in the English Department at Colorado State University.

Interactive Session: Bridging Art and Science – “Sciku” workshop for K-12 students

Dan Beachy-Quick

Dan Beachy-Quick
University Distinguished Teaching Scholar and Professor, Colorado State University

Dan Beachy-Quick is the author, most recently, of Arrows (Tupelo 2020) and a translation of lyric poems from the Ancient Greek, Stone-Garland (Milkweed Editions 2020), named as “New and Noteworthy” by the New York Times. His short collection of poems, Variations on Dawn and Dusk (Omnidawn 2019), was long-listed for the National Book Award in Poetry. Along with a collection of essays, fragments, and poems, Of Silence & Song (Milkweed, 2017),  he has also written six other books of poetry, gentlessness, Circle’s Apprentice, North True South Bright, Spell, Mulberry, and This Nest, Swift Passerine, six chapbooks, Shields & Shards & Stitches & Songs, Apology for the Book of Creatures, Overtakelesness, Heroisms, Canto and Mobius Crowns (the latter two both written in collaboration with the poet Srikanth Reddy),  a book of interlinked essays on Moby-Dick, A Whaler’s Dictionary, as well as a collection of essays, meditations and tales, Wonderful Investigations. Reddy and Beachy-Quick’s collaboration has been released as a full-length collection, Conversities, and he has also collaborated with the essayist and performance artist Matthew Goulish on Work From Memory. In 2013, University of Iowa Press published a monograph on John Keats in their Muse Series (editor Robert D. Richardson) titled A Brighter Word Than Bright: Keats at Work, and Coffee House Press published his first novel, An Impenetrable Screen of Purest Sky. His work has been a winner of the Colorado Book Award, and has been a finalist for the William Carlos Williams Prize, and the PEN/USA Literary Award in Poetry, and included on the Best American Poetry anthology. He is the recipient of a Lannan Foundation residency, and taught as Visiting Faculty at the Iowa Writer’s Workshop in spring 2010. He was one of two Monfort Professors at CSU for 2013-2015, and his work has been supported by the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University and the Guggenheim Foundation. He is a University Distinguished Teaching Scholar at Colorado State University, where he serves as Assistant Chair and Undergraduate Coordinator of the English Department, and teaches in the MFA Program in Creative Writing.

“Manel” Discussion on Supporting Inclusivity in Science

Lisa Youngblade

Lise Youngblade
Dean, College of Health and Human Sciences, Colorado State University

Lise Youngblade earned her Ph.D. and M.S. in Human Development and Family Studies from The Pennsylvania State University, and her B.S. in Psychology from the University of Oregon. She joined Colorado State in 2006 from the University of Florida as head of the Department of Human Development and Family Studies and held that role until August 2019 when she became Dean of the College of Health and Human Sciences. She is an applied developmental scientist whose areas of specialization include child and adolescent socio-emotional development; access to healthcare for vulnerable youth; program evaluation; and analysis of developmental processes in educational and community contexts. Lise has served as both Associate Dean for Research, and Associate Dean for Strategic Initiatives, where she was responsible for leading specific initiatives that benefit the college.

Ed Hoover, University Distinguished Professor of Microbiology Immunology and Pathology, with the 2018 DVM/PhD students, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, April 6, 2018

Ed Hoover
University Distinguished Professor, Colorado State University
Member, National Academy of Sciences

Edward A. Hoover is University Distinguished Professor and past Head of the Departments of Pathology and Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University. He is a pathologist known for his work on the transmission, pathogenesis, and prevention of significant animal infectious diseases that are also models for human disease—notably leukemia and immunodeficiency inducing retroviruses and transmissible prion diseases. Hoover is a native of Chicago, where his family lived over and worked in the McKillup Animal Hospital. He attended the Illinois Institute of Technology and the University of Illinois, where he received his BS, then DVM in 1967. He then entered the graduate program at the Ohio State University, where he received his MS and PhD in 1970, and completed a residency and board certification in veterinary pathology in 1972. In 1981, he became Head of the Department of Pathology at Colorado State University, where he built the tradition of multidisciplinary biomedical research training for veterinarians. In 2004 he was named one of 12 University Distinguished Professors at Colorado State University. He considers as his most treasured accomplishment serving as primary mentor for 27, mostly DVM/PhDs.

Morris Price

Morris Price
Vice President and Executive Director, City Year Denver

A native of Colorado and product of the Denver Public Schools, Price studied communication studies at CSU. He is now vice president and executive director of City Year Denver, a national educational non profit committed to educational equity and the goal to cut the urban drop out rate by two-thirds. Prior to his position at City Year, Price served as the district director for the 1st Congressional District of Colorado (U.S. House of Representatives), national program officer for the Gill Foundation, and director of university and college relations for the Daniels Fund. Prior to his time with the Daniels Fund and Gill Foundation, Price spent 15 years in higher education including holding various leadership positions at the University of Denver, including associate dean and director of admissions. He currently serves on the Rose Community Foundation Board of Trustees, Colorado Nonprofit Association Board of Directors, First Baptist Church of Denver Board of Directors, Compass Academy Governing Board, Colorado Educational and Cultural Facilities Athority, and the CSU LGBT Alumni Alliance (founding and current president). Price has received a number of awards and recognition for his community involvement, including 2009 Professional Man of the Year Award (Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce), 2014 Paul Hunter Outstanding Community Leadership Award (Human Rights Campaign), 2015 and 2021 25 Most Influential African Americans (Denver Urban Spectrum), 2016 Dennis Dougherty Award for Community Leadership (Matthew Shepard Foundation), and 2018 Community Educator Leader of the Year Award (the Education Center of Colorado) and the 2021 Martin Luther King, Jr. Business Award.

Enrique Blas

Enrique Blas
Chemistry and AP Environmental Science Teacher, Fort Collins High School

Enrique Blas is a science teacher at Fort Collins High School. Before entering the field of education, he started his career as a chemical engineer and operations manager for The Valspar Corporation. After seven years with Valspar in Carptentersville, Illinois, he relocated to his birthplace, Santiago, Chile, to partner with his father in a small industrial paint manufacturing operation. Running the business brought him to the realization that teaching was his true passion, so he and his family returned to Fort Collins, where he earned a master’s degree in Educational Leadership at CSU in 2001. He has spent the past 20 years teaching chemistry and AP Environmental Science, inspiring young people to ask critical questions about the value of science in our changing world.

Gregg Dean

Gregg Dean
Department Head, Dept of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University

Dr. Gregg Dean is a professor and department head in the Department of Microbiology, Immunology and Pathology. His research focuses on the immunopathology of the feline and human immunodeficiency viruses (FIV and HIV); specifically, the innate immune defects mediated through and by toll-like receptors (TLR), natural killer cells, myeloid dendritic cells, and regulatory T cells and cytokines. Dean studied at CSU, earning his B.S. in 1985, his D.V.M in 1988, and his Ph.D in 1991.

Ben Mayer

Ben Mayer
Seventh Grade Science Teacher, Lesher Middle School, Fort Collins CO

Ben Mayer has taught science at Lesher Middle School in Fort Collins for the past decade. As an educator, he strives to empower students to discover their sense of wonder.  Through a variety of extra-curricular clubs, out of state field trips, and athletics, he gives his students a variety of opportunities to find their passion, the courage, and their voice to make positive changes in our world.

Gilbert John

Gilbert John
Assistant Dean of Research, College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, Colorado State University

As an undergraduate at CSU, Gilbert John (B.S., ’85; Ph.D., ’90) opted for a microbiology major, based on a course he had enjoyed. Immunology professor Dr. Robert Ellis became his mentor, engaging the young student in his research projects. The student eventually became a professor too, as John went on to his own remarkable career. A member of the Navaho Nation, John began his educational journey when he left the reservation to attend the Marine Military Academy, a college preparatory high school in Texas, aided by a scholarship from the Navaho Code Talkers organization. After completing the Ph.D., he spent the next five years in post-doctoral positions, the first at CSU’s Foothills Campus working with the Center for Disease Control and the second at the University of Arizona. In 1995, he began a tenure-track position at Oklahoma State (OSU); for the next 22 years he taught microbiology and pursued an outstanding research program.
Dr. John is committed to encouraging Native students to consider careers in science. He worked with freshmen and sophomores at OSU, most of whom belonged to one of the 22 tribes in Oklahoma, providing seminars on how to conduct research in microbiology. He also took some of these students with him when doing research in other labs, including one on Long Island, N.Y., where they spent 10 weeks studying infectious disease and bacteria proteins and also finding time to explore Manhattan. For a period, he conducted summer camps for Native junior high students at OSU. He also spent a year in Washington, D.C. as program director for the National Science Foundation.
As he had enjoyed that and his other administrative roles, when he saw an opening at CSU ̶ assistant dean for research in the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, he applied and was hired. He returned to his alma mater fall semester of 2016, where he also became the diversity officer for the college, establishing and overseeing a diversity and inclusion committee. He also continues his own research. One project he has been working on for the last three years focuses on health issues caused by abandoned uranium mines on the Navaho Reservation. Using the “One Health” and “Translational Medicine” approaches of the college, he invited CSU faculty in physical science, social science, and biology disciplines to join him on the project to address human, animal, and environmental concerns.

Scott Nielsen

Scott Nielsen
Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools, Poudre School District, Fort Collins, CO

Scott Nielsen has been with Poudre School District for over 25 years and is currently the Assistant Superintendent of Secondary Schools. He began his career in PSD as a special education teacher before becoming a Principal and then Assistant Superintendent. Scott pushes thinking and challenges what is possible in the school district and around the community. He has built partnerships with community groups, was instrumental in starting the STEM Institute and is a driving force behind PSD’s Futures Lab, which opens up opportunities to further explore not only fields such as coding and aviation but also design thinking and business incubator. The Futures Lab also started a Women in Leadership event last year that just hosted its second annual event. A motivating force for Scott is his wife, who is a leading expert in cyber security and speaks to groups all over the world and was often one of few women as she pursued a degree in electrical engineering. He also is motivated by creating pathways for young ladies to pursue their passions including his daughter, who is currently a 7th grader in PSD.

Mike Kohler

Mike Kohler
Communication and Employee Engagement Teacher, Trainer and Advocate for Cultures of High Trust and Transparency, Larimer County Economic and Workforce Development Department

In Mike Kohler’s view, inclusion is now more crucial than ever. Mike feels that through inclusive cultures, businesses have the unique opportunity, and even the obligation, to promote universal respect in the workplace, free from polarization. He loves to help business leaders become better communicators, as well as help students build their knowledge and apply real-world best practices in their professional lives. Mike has been honored with teacher of the year recognition in graduate programs at Purdue University’s Brian Lamb School of Communications and West Virginia University’s Integrated Marketing Communication program. He has also been a business owner, business coach, and communication consultant and was a communications executive for two of the largest U.S. broadband companies. He now manages leadership and workforce development training for the Larimer County Economic & Workforce Development Department. Mike earned his MBA and a Bachelor’s in Communications from the University of Nebraska-Omaha, where he was honored with Distinguished Service Awards from the College of Public Affairs and Community Service and the Department of Communication.

Morning Hosts:

Anna Fagre
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University


Laura St.Clair
Ph.D. Candidate, Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University

Afternoon Hosts:
Zaid Abdo

Zaid Abdo
Associate Department Head for Graduate Studies and Professor,
Department of Microbiology, Immunology, and Pathology, Colorado State University

Toni Piaggio

Toni Piaggio
Research Molecular Biologist, USDA APHIS Wildlife Services,
National Wildlife Research Center, Fort Collins CO