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Oregon ARCS Scholars at OHSU Found Women in Science Portland

Posted on Saturday, April 11, 2020

Oregon ARCS scholars were instrumental in founding Women in Science Portland (WIS PDX) in the fall of 2012 when a group of graduate students and post-doctoral fellows at Oregon Health and Science University (OHSU) were motivated by a mutual cause – to build a community of supportive networks for the development, retention, and promotion of women in the sciences.

Lillian Klug, an ARCS scholar, was just elected as new President of WIS PDX. Lilli earned her PhD in Cancer Biology at OHSU. She is a Research Project Manager in the laboratory of Dr. Michael Heinrich at the Portland VA, which studies novel therapy targets for the treatment of gastrointestinal stromal tumors (GIST). Lilli has been an extremely valuable member of the Women In Science PDX board since 2017 and has led the way for all of our communication, website, and social media upgrades over the past three years. Please welcome Lilli and all of the other newly elected WIS PDX board members. 

Trish Pruis is involved on the organization's board as Fundraising Chair. Trish is the Manager of Strategic Planning at the Oregon Clinic and Translational Research Institute (OCTRI) at OHSU.

Three of the founding members of WIS PDX are Danielle Robinson, Allison Anacker and Molly Harding Marra who happen to be ARCS scholars.

Danielle Robinson (Communication Chair, founding member): In 2012 Dr. Judith Eisen, Biology Professor at the University of Oregon, visited Oregon Health & Science University (OHSU) and talked about the Women in Graduate Science organization at the University of Oregon. Encouraged and inspired by her story, we decided to start a similar group at OHSU, with the goal of organizing events and activities to address the concerns of early career women at OHSU. One of our first big achievements was playing a key role in the adjustment of parental leave for graduate students new parents.

A lot has changed since 2012! All of the founding members who were in PhD programs have graduated with PhDs and gone into the workforce, occupying a broad range of scientific and technical fields. As I move forward in my career, the value of a diverse network, peer mentorship, and putting effort towards my professional development has only become more clear. Today our goal is to support the local community of people in scientific and technical fields. This year, we moved to incorporate into a non-profit to better serve and expand our community. By moving to non-profit status, we can fundraise and develop more amazing (and of course, free!) programs to serve the community. We hope to link Portland’s many different campus communities together, network with the growing tech community, and create safe and welcoming spaces to learn skills and develop as professionals.

Allison Anacker (Steering committee alum, founding member): Being part of WIS PDX helped me realize that mentoring and helping people, especially those who are paving a new way forward, is an essential component of my career and personal satisfaction. I went on to support women in science through teaching, research and mentorship at Smith College, an elite women’s college, in a postdoctoral teaching fellowship. I initiated professional development workshops for women in STEM fields as they applied for jobs and graduate school. I am currently a Postdoctoral Research Fellow at Columbia University and looking forward to starting as a Lecturer for the Undergraduate Program in Neuroscience at the University of Vermont starting Fall 2017.

Molly Harding Marra (founding member): I was responsible for the design, delivery and overhaul of senior-level biology and Advanced Placement Biology curriculum at a College Preparatory school. Now that I’m not actively doing science research, WIS events are an opportunity to maintain a relationship with the scientific community, and, as often happens, find amazing mentors for my students.