KALAMAZOO, Mich.—Dr. Terri Goss Kinzy and Dr. Carla Koretsky, both scientists and administrators at Western Michigan University, have been recognized as 2019 Notable Women in STEM by Crain's Detroit Business. The publication cites their leadership in the workplace and community and lauds their accomplishments in research, teaching and administration.
Kinzy, vice president for research and a professor of biological sciences at WMU, is internationally known for her work in the areas of gene expression and protein synthesis. She says her love of science started early, and she's a strong advocate of increasing diversity in the field.
"I consider myself fortunate that my parents, while not scientists or even college graduates, encouraged my natural interest with science kits, microscopes and other opportunities to explore," says Kinzy, who came to WMU in early 2018 from Rutgers University, where she did extensive work in molecular biology and biochemistry as well as pediatrics. "I think kids from all backgrounds have a natural interest in science, we just need to encourage them to explore that."
A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, Kinzy also has served in multiple roles with the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and serves on that organization's political affairs advisory committee. In addition, she is a member of the Council on Research Executive Committee for the Association for Public and Land-grant Universities. She's also secured more than $9 million in funding on various projects from the National Institutes of Health, National Science Foundation and other agencies.
Koretsky is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, WMU’s largest and most diverse college. She has served as a faculty member in the Department of Geological and Environmental Sciences and the Institute of the Environment and Sustainability since arriving at WMU in 2000.
An active researcher, Koretsky focuses on aqueous geochemistry and biogeochemistry, seeking to integrate field, laboratory and modeling studies of mineral-water-biological interactions near the Earth's surface.
"I decided to pursue science because of my desire to help solve global environmental problems, especially those related to issues like clean water and air," Koretsky says.
She has been awarded more than $1.1 million in external grants from such agencies as the National Science Foundation, U.S. Department of Energy and the American Chemical Society. Those grants included a prestigious NSF CAREER Award. And in 2014, she was selected as the winner of an international award for distinguished service to her profession by the Geochemical Society.
In fall 2019, Koretsky will implement a cohort model to support STEM students in the College of Arts and Sciences. This evidenced-based support structure is designed to decrease the achievement gaps in retention and four-year graduation rates between majority students and underrepresented students, including minorities and women.
"Globally, we face critical environmental and technical challenges that will only be solved by fully employing the creativity and talent of the next generation of potential scientists," says Koretsky, adding that there is a persistent perception among U.S. school kids that scientists fit a very narrow stereotype.
"It isn't true, and we cannot afford to let our kids think that it is. Having women leaders in STEM is one way to show the next generation that anyone can be a scientist if they want to be one. We know that we make progress faster with more diverse teams, and we simply cannot afford to exclude a single person who might help us to successfully tackle the world's most pressing problems."
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