Leadership Academy for Women in Science and Engineering

The Leadership Academy for Women in Science and Engineering (LAWISE), a task force established in 2019, provides new programs to provide training to and increase the numbers of women scientists and engineer leaders at the national laboratories and UChicago. The LAWISE task force is part of the Joint Task Force Initiative (JTFI), a signature University of Chicago program dedicated to driving synergies and helping Argonne and Fermilab achieve mission success. It has led to the creation of several joint task forces that provide critical support for the national laboratories.

Watch Nobel laureate Andrea Ghez explain how to prove a black hole exists

For Prof. Andrea Ghez, it was fitting that she delivered her first lecture since winning the Nobel Prize in Physics as part of the University of Chicago’s Maria Goeppert Mayer Lecture Series. Not only because Ghez attended the University’s Laboratory Schools, where she developed “the deep commitment to asking the right questions rather than learning the facts,” but because the lectures highlight female physicists like Ghez who are shaping and defining their fields. Watch the lecture.

Inspiring Women Leaders


Emily Landon

Emily Landon

Emily Landon, MD, is an associate professor of medicine and a board-certified internist who specializes in infectious diseases and a leading expert in the nation’s response to COVID-19. She serves as the Executive Medical Director for Infection Prevention and Control at UChicago Medicine, and her research is focused on protecting patients from the harm and mortality that come from healthcare-associated infections and suboptimal use of antibiotics and other antimicrobials. She studies novel electronic hand hygiene monitoring techniques and evaluates the impact of direct, individual-level feedback to encourage provider actions that prevent infections. Now, she has been on the forefront for updates and research regarding COVID-19. Read some of her media clips here and here. Watch her discussion on the COVID-19 response here.


Sara Rimer

Sara Rimer is an Enrico Fermi Argonne Scholar in the Decision and Infrastructure Sciences Division at Argonne National Laboratory. She has mentored and taught undergraduate women studying engineering in Liberia, and led efforts to develop a peer-to-peer partnership between the University of Michigan’s Society of Women Engineers and Liberia Society of Women Engineers student organizations. That partnership has resulted in a two-week residential leadership camp that has been held annually in Liberia since 2015 and has reached more than 80 Liberian participants and 35 University of Michigan participants. She is interested in supporting the persistence of these women as they continue on professionally. She has also received several awards, including the ProQuest Distinguished Dissertation Award from University of Michigan, a Michigan Institute for Computational Discovery and Engineering Fellowship, both a Rackham Merit and a Predoctoral Fellowship, a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellowship, an Institute for Research on Women and Gender Fellowship, and the Mara H. Wasburn Early Engineering Educator Award from the American Society of Engineering Education.


Anna Grassellino

Anna Grassellino is a senior scientist and deputy head of the Applied Physics and Superconducting Technology Division at Fermilab. In 2017, she was awarded the Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, and in 2019, she became the deputy chief technology officer at Fermilab. She has received several awards for the discovery of nitrogen doping of SRF cavities, which has dramatically increased the efficiency of SRF resonators by more than a factor of two, including the DOE Early Career Awardee in 2014, IEEE PAST Award 2017, Frank Sacherer Prize from the European Physical Society, and USPAS prize.


Valerie Taylor

Valerie Taylor is the director of the Mathematics and Computer Science Division at Argonne National Laboratory. She has received numerous awards for distinguished research and leadership and has authored or co-authored more than 100 papers in the area of high-performance computing, with a focus on performance analysis and modeling of parallel scientific applications. She is a fellow of the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers and Association for Computing Machinery. She most recently served as the senior associate dean of academic affairs in the College of Engineering and a Regents Professor and the Royce E. Wisenbaker Professor in the Department of Computer Science and Engineering at Texas A&M University.



Jessica Esquivel

Jessica Esquivel is a postdoctoral research associate at Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. She is also the second black woman to graduate with a PhD in physics from Syracuse University. She is an advocate for increasing diversity in physics and focuses on the intersections of race, gender, and sexuality in her outreach efforts. She has been recognized by the Fermilab Friends for Science Education Organization for the exceptional contributions she has made to Fermilab’s K-12 education and outreach programs. She was also featured in Adler Planetarium’s Chicago Black Women in STEAM series and was interviewed by Lean In: Women of Color for Black Women’s Equal Pay Day. Her most recent accomplishment is organizing the participation and sponsorship of Fermilab at Wakandacon, a three-day afro-futuristic convention that strives to create a safe space for the black community to explore their interests from comic culture to STEM. The American Association for the Advancement of Science has also selected Esquivel to be an AAAS IF/THEN® ambassador, serving as a high-profile role model for middle school girls.



Young-Kee Kim

Young-Kee Kim is the Louis Block Distinguished Service Professor of Physics and chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Chicago, as well as the chair of the LAWISE task force. As deputy director of Fermilab, she had broad responsibilities, including shaping the long-baseline neutrino program, the centerpiece of the domestic particle physics program. In 2012, Kim helped organize “Expanding Your Horizons, Chicago” to inspire middle-school-age girls (especially from under-represented groups in Chicago) to recognize and pursue their potential in STEM via annual hands-on workshops with local scientists and engineers. She has given numerous presentations at conferences and workshops for promoting women and minorities in science. Kim also helped her institution to sponsor the African School of Physics that teaches and promotes physics in African countries.


UChicago-Peking University Joint Forum: Addressing the Climate & Energy Challenge

The climate and energy challenge is inherently global as individual nations cannot control the global thermostat in isolation and must collaborate to curb the consequences of climate change. Join the University of Chicago and Peking University for a joint forum convening academics, policymakers, regulators, and industry leaders to discuss how the US and China – the two largest carbon producers – and the world, are addressing the climate and energy challenge.

Prof. Shirley Meng  will moderate a panel discussion on Thursday, October 27 at 7pm Central Time titled, The Transformative Potential of Clean Energy Technology.

Read more about the forum

Upcoming LAWISE Workshop – Focus on Anti-Racism

LAWISE will hold a virtual workshop on anti-racism on April 14, 2021 from 3 p.m. to 5 p.m. The workshop will be hosted by the University of Chicago. Melissa Gilliam, Vice Provost, the Ellen H. Block Distinguished Service Professor of Health and Justice, and faculty in the departments of Obstetrics and Gynecology and Pediatrics, will deliver the keynote presentation.  

Women in Science and Technology (WIST) 30th Anniversary Symposium

Women in Science and Technology (WIST) hosted a one-day virtual symposium on Thursday, October 15, 2020, to commemorate its 30th Anniversary at Argonne. Participants heard about Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) at the laboratory and attended the DEI and Professional Development focused workshops. Learn more. 

LAWISE Workshop – Communications for Women in Science

LAWISE held a virtual workshop on August 20, 2020 on professional communications for women working in science. During this workshop, the more than 100 attendees learned strategies, tactics, and tools to improve their ability to communicate, face challenges, influence others, and succeed.

The inspirational keynote speaker was Lia Merminga, an internationally renowned accelerator physicist with leadership experience at three science laboratories who is currently project director for the proton improvement plan II at Fermilab. She shared the importance of people who influenced her to pursue a career in physics and having mentors who are considered the best in their field. She also discussed the challenges of raising a family while pursuing a scientific career. Merminga was inspired by many women, including Florence P. Haseltine, PhD, MD, and Helen Edwards, the master builder of accelerators who taught her to stay focused, not to take no for an answer, make a difference, and understand the importance of the team.

Merminga’s remarks were followed by remarks from Janine Sergay, a leader and facilitation specialist on strategy, organizational development, and leadership. Sergay inspired women at the workshop to bring their voice to the table by strategically positioning themselves in their industry, in their organizations, in their projects, within their team, and cross-functionally. She shared ways to influence others by building a culture of inclusion, leading with a push vs. pull style, and running productive and collaborative meetings. By “communicating up,” she encouraged female leaders to develop a clear understanding of requirements and build positive working relationships.

The LAWISE steering committee extends deep appreciation to Fermilab for hosting this outstanding workshop.

Get Involved

To become involved in LAWISE or share insights, please reach out to Young Kee Kim, chair of the LAWISE Task Force and chair of the Department of Physics at the University of Chicago, at ykkim@hep.uchicago.edu.

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