Three Receive UNC Women's Advancement Awards

Carolina honored three people on Monday with its University Awards for the Advancement of Women. A reception for the winners helped kick off the campus’ Women’s Week 2010.

The awards, created in 2006, honor individuals who have mentored or supported women on campus, elevated the status of women or improved campus policies for them, promoted women’s recruitment and retention, or promoted professional development for women.

The three winners — one faculty member, one staff member and one student, graduate student or postdoctoral scholar are eligible — each receive a monetary award. The faculty and staff winners receive $5,000; the student scholar, $2,500.

This year’s honorees are Laurie McNeil, professor in the physics and astronomy department; Melinda Manning ’94, assistant dean of students; and Parastoo Hashemi, a postdoctoral research associate in the chemistry department.

In 1984, McNeil joined the physics and astronomy department as the first, and sole, female tenure-track member. As chair of the department for five years, McNeil helped to double the number of female faculty members in her department. She secured funding from the National Science Foundation for the University to establish a program to prepare science majors to be excellent high school science teachers. McNeil was an original Working on Women in Science scholar, a program designed to foster the careers of women in science that she helped propose. McNeil has chaired the American Physical Society Committee on the Status of Women in Physics and was a member of the U.S. delegation to the first International Union of Pure and Applied Physics conference on Women in Physics.

Manning, who also earned a law degree from UNC in 2001, is an adviser for Project Dinah, a UNC women’s safety and empowerment organization dedicated to anti-violence and sexual assault awareness and equality in all relationships. She has facilitated Helping Advocates for Violence Ending Now (HAVEN) trainings and information sessions for students during orientation and helps student advocates. Manning also supports survivors of sexual assault by promoting the hiring of an interpersonal violence coordinator and aiding survivors in the readjustment to campus life.

Hashemi, whose research focuses on the development of microsensors and their use to measure chemical events in the brain, seeks out talented young women to fill undergraduate and graduate positions in her laboratory. At least six of these undergraduate women have gone on to apply to medical, public health, neuroscience and biomedical engineering graduate programs. She has supported their independent projects and presentations of their work at major neuroscience and chemistry conferences, where young women are a noticeable minority. She is currently establishing a foundation that supports mentors in recruiting and training young women in scientific research.

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