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UofL celebrating contributions of women in STEM fields

ATHENA initiative promoting successes of faculty
UofL celebrates Women’s History Month 2024 by highlighting a few women at UofL who are pillars in STEM. Left to right; top to bottom row: Dawn Caster, Hunter Hayden, Christine Burgan, Olfa Nasraoui, Gretel Monreal and Cheri Levinson

LOUISVILLE, Ky. — Women at the University of Louisville are leading, discovering and making history throughout campus and beyond. During March, UofL is celebrating the contribution of UofL women as leaders in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) fields.

These individuals are making discoveries that contribute to UofL’s achievement as a “Research 1” doctoral university, with very high research activity by the Carnegie Classification of Institutions of Higher Education. Women faculty, students and alumni are innovating, building unique STEM careers and mentoring other women and girls to pursue their own careers in these fields.

Olfa Nasraoui, professor of computer science and engineering, leads a campus-wide initiative that promotes success for women faculty in STEM fields. Since its launch in 2019, Advancement Through Healthy Empowerment, Networking, and Awareness (ATHENA), has served nearly 1,000 UofL employees through faculty mentoring, education and awareness, as well as a new data capture process and workshops to improve inclusion and equity in the recruitment process.

Igniting excitement about STEM fields is a mission for Gretel Monreal, associate professor and co-lead of the Advanced Heart Failure Research Program, which is world-renown for developing and testing artificial hearts and mechanical circulatory support devices. Monreal founded Heartwheels! with Steven Koenig to bring fun and interactive heart-related exhibits into the community to give young people hands-on experiences with cardiovascular technology.

In February, the team shared heart-related exhibits with more than 2,500 kids and their families at the Kentucky Science Center’s 2024 Engineering Day event where the children got to work with a mock circulatory loop. In November, Monreal and Koenig took Heartwheels! to Central High School and Sacred Heart Academy, teaching the students about healthy and diseased hearts and allowing them to interact with a pig heart and mechanical circulatory support devices used to treat end-stage heart failure patients.

“We love sharing the awesome research we get to do here every day with members of the community,” Monreal said.

UofL News will commemorate Women’s History Month by highlighting just a few of the women at UofL who are making history and changing the world. Follow along on our social media channels throughout the month as we recognize exceptional women in STEM.

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