Microgrants for UAlbany women support education and career goals

A woman in a purple dress sits, hands clasped, in an audiorium with flowers beside her and other women in the seats behind her
Waiting for award announcements. (Photos by Joane Ternier)

ALBANY, N.Y. (Aug. 11, 2022) — Thirty-one UAlbany women received funding through Initiatives for Women (IFW), a program founded almost 30 years ago to support professional and educational development through competitive microgrants.

The awards typically range from $500 to $2,500 and help fund research, support conference, travel and housing expenses. Funding comes from individual donations as well as contributions from foundations and corporations. Since its founding in 1993, IFW has raised over $1 million and handed out 1,072 awards, said Carol Anne Germain, CEHC associate professor and chair of the department of Information Sciences and Technology, who also chairs the program committee. 

Women sit in an audience listening expectantly
Audience members wait for award announcements.

This year’s cohort — four undergraduates, two faculty members and 25 graduate students — were honored at a ceremony at ETEC last month where more than $28,000 in grants were announced.

“I believe that our thoughtful donors have made a strong impact through their generosity. These awards make a difference,” Germain said. As an example, she mentioned Gloria Guptill, who received an IFW award in 2002 to cover the cost of prep classes for the MCAT, needed to get into medical school. “During the pandemic, I regularly heard radio news from Dr. Gloria Guptill relating to COVID. That IFW seed money helped in her educational and professional endeavor, a profession in which she made significant contributions.”

This year’s winners:

Ju-Ying Yang, the Louise C. and Earl M. Applegate Award, $750. PhD student Yang will use the award to present her dissertation research this September at the Association for Budgeting and Financial Management Conference, the main conference for scholars in the public finance field. Yang is studying the energy transition in four U.S. municipalities.

Sara Zahad, the Barlow Family IFW Fund, $1,250. Zahad, a doctoral candidate in the English Department, will use the funds for living expenses so she can complete a dissertation chapter focusing on the influence of women in the works of Israeli and Palestine national poets Yehuda Amichai and Mahmoud Darwish.

A women, seated with others in an auditorium, smiles as she holds her award check
A happy award recipient.

Shakera C. Tems, the Michael Boots Award, $1,000. Tems, a passionate advocate for reforming systems that hinder women of color’s access to equitable, inclusive and holistic reproductive healthcare, used her award to help fund her participation in the Spring 2022 Center for Women in Government & Civil Society Fellowship on Women & Public Policy Program.

Susana Cruz Garcia, the Christine E. Bose and Edna Acosta-Belen IFW Feminist Research Award, $500. Garcia, a doctoral student in Psychology, will use the award to help compensate study participants. Her research addresses eating disorders across diverse populations with a focus on Latinas.

Tingting Peng, the Buhrmaster Family Endowment, $500. Peng, a doctoral student in Economics, studies the effect of air-travel connectivity on cross-border shopping, and will use the award to attend a workshop on trade and trade policy.

Razan Elsir, the Gloria R. DeSole Fund for Initiatives for Women, $448. Elsir, a Political Science major, will use the funds for travel and housing when she presents two academic papers at the annual Midwest Political Science Association Annual Conference. One of Razan’s papers addresses contemporary immigration, the other focuses on female genital mutilation.

Lisa Giovannangelo, the Judy L. Genshaft Fund, $1,000. Giovannangelo, a senior staff assistant in the College of Emergency Preparedness, Homeland Security and Cybersecurity, will use the award to support this fall’s State of Grace event, including a live stream of keynote discussions from the national Grace Hopper Conference; resume critiques and mock interviews with women who are experts in the field; panels focusing on graduate school and career options; as well as mentoring with STEAM professionals.

Chioma Ofodile, the Haynes-Davis Memorial Scholarship, $500. Ofodile, who graduated in May as a Psychology major and creative writing minor, will use the funds to help with living expenses during her first year of graduate school in clinical psychology.

Bridget Nandawula, the Honoring Our Mothers Award, $1,000. A Master of Public Health student, Nandawula will use her IFW award for travel costs for her research on the diversity of malaria species at Engeye Health Clinic, Ddegeye Village, Uganda, to determine whether new drug treatment protocols are needed to improve the health of children in rural villages.

Sakthi Muthukrishnan, the Susan Van Horn-Shipherd '64 Women in Science Scholarship, $500. Muthukrishnan, an undergraduate Honors College student pursing a dual bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, also is a dancer in the Indian classical form of Bharatanatyam. She will use her award to host a cultural dance on campus.

Taylor Pierce, the Women in Technology Award, $750. An Informatics major with a concentration in software development, Pierce will use her award to help fund her Spring 2023 study abroad semester. In addition to the academic component, she will learn about diversity and other cultures.

Kimberly Martinez, the Edelgard Wulfert, Ph.D. Endowed IFW Award, $750. Martinez, a Clinical Psychology PhD student, will use the funds to compensate participants in her study on factors that impact the relationship between weight changes and eating disorder pathology.

The Ford Foundation Initiatives Women in Science Fellowship

  • Lamyaa Almehmadi, $1,000. Chemistry doctoral candidate Almehmadi will use her award to travel to a conference and present her research on the development of a novel drug discovery platform using Surface-enhanced Raman Spectroscopy.
  • Sonivette Colón-Rodríguez, $1,500. A PhD candidate in Chemistry, Colón-Rodríguez will use her IFW award for travel costs and registration at a conference where she will have a chance to disseminate the results of her dissertation research and grow as a professional in the forensic and analytical sciences.
  • Daliza Rivera-Matos, $1,000. Rivera-Matos, a master’s student in the Department of Atmospheric and Environmental Sciences, will use the funds for attendance at the American Geophysical Union Fall Meeting, where she will present her Red Sea coral paleoclimate research.

The Karen R. Hitchcock New Frontiers Fund

  • Mary Avery, $1,200. A doctoral student in Psychology, Avery will use her award to conduct research on individual differences in working memory capacity as they relate to survival/adaptive memory processing. This work advances our understanding of how cognition and memory contribute to theories in evolutionary psychology.
  • Margeaux Cannon, $1,840. A Counseling Psychology PhD student, Cannon will use the award to fund dissertation research on whether illness beliefs about chronic pain and medication beliefs about opioid pain medication are related to the risk of opioid misuse.
  • Rachel Lange, $1,271. The award will help Lange, a PhD candidate in Biomedical Sciences, with expenses when she presents her dissertation research at the American Society for Tropical Medicine and Health Annual Conference.
  • Rocio Leguisamon Tolentino, $1,000. Leguisamon Tolentino, a PhD student in Languages, Literatures and Cultures, will use the funds for expenses as she pursues her dissertation, analyzing the presence and type of various lexical phenomena, such as loanwords, semantic extensions, and calques from English into Spanish, as well as the presence of coding switching between English and Spanish in the speech of Dominicans in New Jersey.
  • Yueqi Li, $1,500. A doctoral student in Informatics, Li will be co-presenting research at the American Accounting Association’s Conference on Teaching and Learning in Accounting. Her project applies protection motivation theory along with factors that predict individuals’ safety measures when using digital financial products and services.
  • Zi Ling Fiona Low, $1,120. Low, a Clinical Psychology doctoral student, will use her award to fund a research study that investigates the use of protective behavioral strategies in psychedelic use and its association with challenging experiences and negative consequences.
  • McKenzie Miller, $1,000. A PhD student in Psychology, Miller will use the funds for equipment needed for her research in the assessment and treatment of eating disorders and comorbid addictive behaviors.
  • Quan Qi, $1,000. An Economics doctoral student working on a paper evaluating the effect of Medicare Part D on retirement and the relationship between retirement and mental health, will use the funds to attend the American Economic Association Annual Conference.
  • Christina Sanzari, $1,000. A Psychology doctoral student, Sanzari will use the award to support her dissertation research into eating disorder risks and evidence-based interventions targeted specifically to college athletes.
  • Megan Willows, $1,000. PhD student Willows will use the award to compensate survey participants in her dissertation research into gendered challenges, needs and risks for harm among will survey recent Central American migrants to upstate New York.

The Initiatives for Women Endowment Award

If you’d like to apply for an IFW award, applications open annually in March and can be found on the Initiatives for Women web site. To donate to, or create a new award, visit UAlbany Gives and select Initiatives for Women.