Symposium Chair Invites you to WIC 20th Anniversary: Celebrating Women in Chemical Engineering

I recently caught up with Julianne Holloway, assistant professor in chemical engineering at Arizona State University, and chair of WIC 20th Anniversary: Celebrating Women in Chemical Engineering, at the 2018 AIChE Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh, PA. This full-day symposium highlights the significant contributions of women to chemical engineering and includes 20 invited female speakers from diverse research backgrounds and affiliations.

What is your role for the 2018 Annual Meeting in Pittsburgh?

I am currently serving as one of the directors for the Materials Engineering and Science Division, co-chair of the Biomaterials (8B) Area, and the chair of the “WIC 20th Anniversary: Celebrating Women in Chemical Engineering” all-day symposium. Additionally, I am co-chairing a couple of sessions and will be presenting my research in the Polymers (8A) Area Plenary on Monday Morning. Out of all of these activities, I am most excited for the WIC 20th Anniversary Symposium.

Tell us what to expect at WIC’s 20th Anniversary Symposium. What changes have you noticed for women in engineering?

The Women’s Initiative Committee (WIC) will be celebrating its 20th Anniversary as a committee this year. To celebrate this important milestone, we are planning an all-day celebration in the form of a symposium on Tuesday, October 30th in Spirit of Pittsburgh A. The symposium will feature twenty-plus women speakers, will highlight the scientific accomplishments of women in chemical engineering. The women were selected from a pool of over 200 highly qualified chemical engineers and represent a range of research interests from academia, a vairety of roles in industry, and represent different career levels. The list of speakers includes women from rising stars to pioneers in their field, as well as more than ten AIChE Fellows, four past WIC Chairs, and four past, present, or elected AIChE Presidents.

I hope attendees will learn not only about the progress of women in chemical engineering but also about the significant technical contributions women have made and are continuing to make in chemical engineering.

WIC has served as a cornerstone in my development as a chemical engineer. I graduated with my B.S. in chemical engineering in 2008, earned my Ph.D. in chemical engineering in 2012, and started as a chemical engineering faculty member at Arizona State University in 2016. During this time, WIC was instrumental in providing professional development workshops, as well as a community for networking and mentorship. Due to WIC’s impact on my career, I wanted to do something special for WIC’s 20th anniversary, and the idea of an all-day symposium highlighting some of the amazing women in chemical engineering seemed perfect. What I didn’t expect was the response. With the exception of a couple people with previous commitments, every person I emailed was incredibly enthusiastic about participating. Additionally, a lot of invitees shared their personal memories, some of them fifteen-plus years in the past, of how WIC positively impacted them and their careers.

Throughout this process, I’ve learned so much, not only about WIC’s impact, but also more broadly about the tremendous impact women have had in chemical engineering over the past several decades. I look forward to continuing to learn about WIC’s impact and our progress during the WIC 20th Anniversary Symposium, including Christine Seymour’s (current AIChE President, Pfizer) presentation on “AIChE’s First Female Member – An Unsung Trailblazer of Chemical Engineering,” which tells the story of Margaret Hutchinson Rousseau and her integral contributions to the commercial production of penicillin.

At the end of the symposium on Tuesday, we will be holding an evening reception from 7:30-9:30 pm in Spirit of Pittsburgh A with a celebratory champagne toast at 8 pm. WIC’s 20th Anniversary is an important milestone, and I look forward to celebrating our progress with you! 

What are you hoping attendees will learn from your event?

First, I want to encourage everyone, including all genders, to attend WIC’s 20th Anniversary Symposium, where the symposium will include technical and historical presentations. The technical presentations will feature pioneers in energy, materials science, computational modeling and design, bioengineering, and other fields. The full list of speakers and presentations can be found here. I hope attendees will learn not only about the progress of women in chemical engineering but also about the significant technical contributions women have made and are continuing to make in chemical engineering. Attendees will also learn about the history of women in chemical engineering, which I hope provides attendees with an enhanced perspective of how women have contributed to and shaped the field of chemical engineering. Most of all, I want attendees to enjoy the symposium and join us after the symposium for our celebratory reception mentioned above. I hope to see you there!

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Julianne L. Holloway

Julianne L. Holloway is currently an assistant professor in Chemical Engineering at Arizona State University, where she began in 2016. Julianne received her Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering at Drexel University in 2012. Read more.