Women Chemists of Color: Staying at the Table Symposium

With support from the National Science Foundation*, the American Chemical Society (ACS) hosted a Women Chemists of Color Summit at the 240th ACS National Meeting in Boston. Learn more about the Summit or ACS Women Chemists of Color initiatives.

As part of the Summit, the Women Chemists of Color: Staying at the Table symposium addressed mid-career barriers and focused on promotion and advancement for mid-career women chemists of color. A video recording of the symposium is available here.

Symposium Program

Tuesday, August 24, 2010 — 2:00–3:20 pm
Sheraton Boston Hotel, Back Bay Ballroom B — Boston, MA

Sponsored by PRES; Cosponsored by BMGT, CMA, COMSCI, I&EC-ACTS, JSD, PROF, WCC, YCC
Organizers: Novella Bridges, Janet Bryant, and Ingrid Montes

  • Introductory Remarks
  • Hispanic Women: How to rise above challenges and move forward? Ingrid Montes, University of Puerto Rico at RÍo Piedras
    Abstract: Over the years the representation of Hispanic women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields have provoked debates. The presentation will include some statistics, possible causes of underrepresentation and the ongoing challenges that are faced. The discussion will also include insights from personal perspective about attitudes, behaviors, opportunities and resources that show the way to rise above and move forward.
  • Navigation of my career. Elaine Harris, Breakthrough Marketing Technology
    Abstract: Elaine Harris made several key decisions that enabled her to successfully navigate career transitions from classical chemical engineering to marketing to becoming the president of her own consultancy. Hear the how and why of this journey through top schools and Fortune 100 companies. Learn how her experience may apply to you.
  • Where are the underrepresented minority women chemistry professors? Donna J. Nelson, University of Oklahoma
    Abstract: National data on underrepresented minority (URM) women faculty will be presented. Perspectives on their compilation, significance, and value will be discussed.
  • Being the “only” one and making it work. Novella Bridges, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory
    Abstract: Novella Bridges will discuss her life experiences as being the single black female chemist at her national laboratory. She will discuss her outlook and how she achieves the work-life balance.
  • Panel Discussion & Concluding Remarks


Speaker Biographies

Ingrid Montes
Professor, Department of Chemistry, University of Puerto Rico at RÍo Piedras

Ingrid Montes received a B.S. in Chemistry and a Ph.D. in Organic Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico at RÍo Piedras where she has been a faculty member for 23 years. Dr. Montes has two areas of research: Organometallic Chemistry where she explores the synthesis and characterization of ferrocene derivatives and Chemical Education where her work is based upon the theoretical perspective building on constructivist learning theory, mostly applied to organic chemistry learning.

As an educator she is always seeking opportunities to mentor students in their career development and feels a responsibility to assist them in the development of their character and leadership abilities. During the past 20 years, she has been the Faculty Advisor of the American Chemical Society (ACS) Student Chapter which has received 18 Outstanding Awards in a row. Recently, she motivated graduate students to found the first Graduate Chemistry Student Association in Puerto Rico, for which she is also the Faculty Advisor. These positions have enabled her to mentor and inspire thousands of students, most of whom are Hispanic women.

Dr. Montes has been extremely active in service at all levels. At the national level her service includes the Chair of the ACS Theme Team for the International Year of Chemistry (2011), Chair of the Committee on Community Activities, Chair of the Advisory Board for ChemMatters Magazine, and member of the Society Committee on Chemical Education. At the local level she has served on the ACS Puerto Rico Section Board of Directors for 20 years. She is a member of the organizing committee for the 43rd IUPAC (International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry) World Congress. She also chairs the system-wide committee of the University of Puerto Rico that oversees the improvement of the academic chemistry programs.

Dr. Montes has been recognized with several awards including: 2010 ACS Fellow; Nomination for the 2011 ACS Volunteer Service Award; Nomination for the 2009 U.S Professors of the Year Program sponsored by CASE; Nomination for the National Society of Collegiate Scholars Inspire Integrity Award; IUPAC Fellow (2006-present); ACS Puerto Rico Section Leonardo Igaravidez Award; and the ACS Puerto Rico Section Chemical Education Award, Excellence, and Productivity Award.

Elaine Harris
President, Breakthrough Marketing Technology

Elaine is co-founder and President of the New Jersey firm, Breakthrough Marketing Technology, LLC. They provide strategic marketing direction to improve client decision-making and support business growth. Market research on customers, products and markets is often required to generate data for analysis. Mastery of Lean and Six Sigma enable Breakthrough to establish short and long-term processes for data collection, insight development and continuous learning- then convey that in an understandable and actionable format. Ms. Harris has a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from MIT and an MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business.

Ms. Harris was previously the Director of Corporate Strategic Marketing at Honeywell where she was responsible for developing and implementing an e-business and marketing certification program. She developed new process management applications (Six Sigma) for marketing, sales, and product commercialization. She also managed the corporate brand strategy initiative following the AlliedSignal acquisition of Honeywell and led a project for the COO to benchmark sales training performance.

Prior to that, Ms. Harris held a variety of senior level marketing and consulting positions at the DuPont Company in Wilmington, DE, New York, NY, and Los Angeles, CA. She has experience in process engineering and technical services as well as product and market development, strategic planning, brand management, and marketing research.

Ms. Harris has served on the Board of Advisors of the Stanford Graduate School of Business, is a member of the National Black MBA Association, and is on the board of the New York chapter of the Stanford Black Alumni Association.

Donna Nelson
Professor, Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry, University of Oklahoma

Dr. Donna Nelson is an Associate Professor of Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma (OU). She obtained her B.S. in Chemistry at the University of Oklahoma in 1974, her Ph.D. in Chemistry at the University of Texas at Austin with Michael J. S. Dewar in 1980, her postdoctorate at Purdue University with Herbert C. Brown during 1980-1983, and joined the University of Oklahoma in 1983.  She was a Faculty Fellow in the OU Provost's Office 1989-1990, a Visiting Professor at MIT 2003, and assistant to American Chemical Society Past President Dr. Ann Nalley since 2005.

Dr. Nelson's current research pertains to energy and scientific workforce development and she frequently speaks on the interrelationship of both topics.  She has over 100 publications.  She has received several honors, including Fulbright Scholar, an NSF ADVANCE Leadership Award, a SACNAS (Society for Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science) Distinguished Scientist of the Year, Women's eNews "21 Leaders for the 21st Century", AAAS Fellow, a Guggenheim Award, a National Organization for Women "Woman of Courage" Award, a Ford Foundation Fellowship, an Oklahoma Outstanding Professor Award, Minority Health Professions Foundation Hall of Fame Inductee, a Sigma Xi Faculty Research Award, an NSF Creativity Extension, and many keynote talks.

Her chemical research involves functionalizing single walled carbon nanotubes (SWCNTs), with applications in energy research and technology development, and yielded the first COSY (correlation spectroscopy) NMR (nuclear magnetic resonance) spectrum of covalently functionalized SWCNTs. Her scientific workforce surveys, of faculty race/ethnicity, gender, and rank in science and engineering at research universities, revealed that women and minorities are much less represented among professors than degree recipients.

Novella Bridges
Senior Research Scientist, Pacific Northwest National Laboratory

Novella N. Bridges is a Senior Research Chemist in the Operations & Process Transformation Research Group at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). She is the Training Manager for the Radiation Portal Monitoring Project, RPMP. In this capacity she has developed, prepared, and reviewed training documents. Her specific expertise is in radiochemistry separations and the development of novel catalytic system used for high value bio-based products. Specifically she has worked on projects involving the reduction of diesel emissions in vehicles, locomotives and light-weight trucks; the production of hydrogen for fuel cells and other advanced energy systems; and the development of radio-labeled composites as therapeutic agents for cancer treatments.

Since receiving her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from Louisiana State University in 2000, Dr. Bridges has been employed at PNNL. She is the recipient of several honors and awards including a National Consortium for Graduate Degrees for Minorities in Engineering and Sciences (GEM) Fellowship and a Rising Star Award from CCG Inc. (Black Engineer Magazine). She has received an American Chemical Society (ACS) Regional Industrial Innovation Award (Radiogels), an ACS Young Observer Award, and a travel award from the International Union of Pure and Applied Chemistry. At PNNL she has received the Community Spirit Award, the Woman of Achievement Award, and the Fitzner-Eberhardt Award.

*This material is based upon work supported, in part, by the National Science Foundation under Grant #1027608. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the author(s) and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Science Foundation.