April 21, 2000 Volume 7, Number 15


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Viewpoint

Women win awards to join physics, engineering departments as profs


The U of S has been awarded two out of 23 awards in a national competition aimed at boosting the number of women in faculty positions in the natural sciences and engineering.

An April 5 news release from U of S Research said two outstanding female scientists will be appointed July 1 to tenure-track positions under the 2000 University Faculty Awards program, sponsored by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council (NSERC).

Both women will be the first female faculty members in their respective departments.

  • Anne Marie Harte, currently a research associate at Cambridge University in England, will join the department of mechanical engineering as an assistant professor.

  • Kaori Tanaka, currently studying at the University of Alberta as a post-doctoral fellow, will become an assistant professor of the department of physics and engineering physics.

In total, the NSERC awards amount to $131,700 over the next three years.

The UFA program also contributes an annual salary of $40,000 for up to five years. Universities involved in the UFA program have to guarantee the researcher a tenure-track position upon appointment.

National competition for these awards was severe, with an overall success rate of only 36 per cent. Candidates for the awards are nominated by universities.

"The U of S has a strong commitment to increasing the number of women in tenure-track positions, particularly in those departments with low representation at both the faculty and student levels," says Spiro Yannacopoulos, head of mechanical engineering.

"Our department currently has no female faculty members. There is also inadequate representation at the undergraduate level in engineering. By providing a role model and through mentoring, female faculty members can help to encourage more women to enter the engineering profession."

Akira Hirose, head of physics and engineering physics, said, "The U of S has been promoting equity employment and we are focusing on that goal." He noted four physicists (including Tanaka) will soon be joining his department and two of them are women.

Harte will receive an annual $21,900 research grant for three years to study the mechanics of lightweight materials such as fibreglass and laminates used in industries such as the aerospace industry. She will develop new lightweight materials and study how strong, durable and tough they are.

Tanaka will receive an annual $22,000 research grant for three years to study superconductors which conduct electricity without losing energy to electrical resistance, as most conductors do.

These awards are the U of S’s second and third from the UFA program. Last year, Julita Vassileva, in the dept. of computer science, received the first award.

Begun in 1998, the goal of NSERC’s UFA program is to increase the representation of women in faculty positions in the natural sciences and engineering, by encouraging Canadian universities to appoint very promising women researchers to tenure-track positions in science and engineering.

This year, NSERC announced it will extend its UFA program to Aboriginal men and women.



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