Recognizing Exceptional Women in Research & Innovation

The Office of Research, Innovation & Impact (RII) is proud to lead the annual Women of Impact campaign and recognition event.

Each year, we solicit nominations from across the University of Arizona, and ultimately select 30 remarkable faculty and staff who have each contributed significantly to our identity as a world-class research enterprise.

Named awardees are carefully selected based on their commitment to UArizona’s purpose, mission and values, unique skills in driving discovery and innovation, community impact, and willingness to empower others. Their contributions build the groundwork for a brighter future.

Comprised of 30 impressive and forward-thinking leaders whose impact resonates across our campus and far beyond, here are the 2023 Women of Impact:

Diane Austin

Professor, Anthropology
Director, Bureau of Applied Research in Anthropology
Research Anthropologist
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

Terry Badger

Professor and Eleanor Bauwens Endowed Chair, Nursing
Director of Research Initiatives, College of Nursing
Professor, Psychology, College of Science
Professor, Public Health, Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health
Member, Cancer Center

Susan Beck

Professor, Global Seismology and Tectonics
Department of Geosciences, College of Science

Gurtina Besla

Associate Professor, Astronomy
Associate Astronomer, Steward Observatory
College of Science

Stephanie Russo Carroll

Associate Professor, Community, Environment and Policy
Director, Collaboratory for Indigenous Data Governance
Associate Director, Native Nations Institute, Udall Center for Studies in Public Policy
Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health

Bonnie Colby

Joint Professor, Agricultural and Resource Economics and Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences
College of Science

Laura Condon

Associate Professor, Hydrology and Atmospheric Sciences
College of Science

Anne Cress

Vice Dean of Operations and Strategy, College of Medicine-Tucson
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine, Radiation Oncology, and Cancer Biology

Kacey Ernst

Professor and Department Head, Epidemiology and Biostatistics
Mel & Enid Zuckerman College of Public Health

Liesl Folks

Vice President, Semiconductor Strategy and Director, Center for Semiconductor Manufacturing
Executive Office of the President and Research, Innovation & Impact

Carmala "Carmie" Garzione

Dean, College of Science
Member, BIO5 Institute

Rakhi Gibbons

Director of Licensing and Intellectual Property
Tech Launch Arizona

Felicia Goodrum

Professor and Interim Associate Department Head, Immunobiology
College of Medicine-Tucson
Professor, Cellular and Molecular Medicine and Molecular and Cellular Biology
Member, BIO5 Institute
Member, Cancer Center

Melanie Hingle

Professor and Associate Director, School of Nutritional Sciences and Wellness
College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences
Member, BIO5 Institute
Member, Cancer Center

Tanya Hodges

Regional Academic Programs Manager, Yuma Campus
Executive Director of Business Initiatives and Grant Development
Lecturer, Department of Agriculture Education, Technology & Innovation
College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences

Corey Knox

Deputy Director, Arizona Astrobiology Center
Research, Innovation & Impact
Arizona Space Institute

Sharon Megdal

Director, Water Resources Research Center
Professor and Specialist, Department of Environmental Science
C.W. and Modene Neely Endowed Professor and Distinguished Outreach Professor
Division of Agriculture, Life and Veterinary Sciences, and Cooperative Extension
College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences

Kathleen Melde

Associate Dean, Faculty Affairs and Inclusion, College of Engineering
Professor, Electrical and Computer Engineering

Juanita Merchant

Regents Professor, Medicine
Chief, Division of Gastroenterology and Hepatology
College of Medicine-Tucson
Member, BIO5 Institute
Member, Cancer Center

Maggie O'Haire

Associate Dean for Research and Professor, College of Veterinary Medicine
Professor, Psychology, College of Science

Mary Peterson

Professor and Director, Cognitive Science Program
Department of Psychology, College of Science
Professor, Evelyn F. McKnight Brain Institute

Margaret Pitts

Senior Associate Dean, Graduate College
Associate Professor, Communication
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

Sudha Ram

Anheuser-Busch Endowed Chair and Professor of Management Information Systems, Entrepreneurship & Innovation
Eller College of Management
Professor, Computer Science, College of Science
Member, BIO5 Institute

Andrea Romero

Vice Provost for Faculty Affairs
Office of the Provost

Lisa Romero

Associate Vice President, Marketing and Communications
Research, Innovation & Impact
RII Senior Leadership Team

Edella Schlager

Professor and Director, School of Government and Public Policy
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

Valerie Shirley

Associate Professor of Indigenous Education
Director, Indigenous Teacher Education Program
Dean's Fellow for Indigenous Education
College of Education

Shufang Su

Professor and Department Head, Physics
College of Science

Gayatri Vedantam

Professor and Associate Director of Research, School of Animal and Comparative Biomedical Sciences
College of Agriculture, Life & Environmental Sciences
Member, BIO5 Institute

Ofelia Zepeda

Regents Professor, Tohono O'odham Language and Linguistics
Director, American Indian Language Development Institute
Affiliate Faculty, Department of American Indian Studies
College of Social & Behavioral Sciences

Young Women of Impact program

This year, we are thrilled to also honor high school students for their commitment to and demonstration of six core values at UArizona: integrity, compassion, inspiration, adaptability, inclusivity and determination. These outstanding young women were nominated by their principals, from 18 public schools across seven Pima County districts.

Read the full story

“We recognize the importance of acknowledging young women making a difference in their schools and communities, connecting them with university role models, and cultivating a pipeline of future Women of Impact.”

—Lisa Romero, associate vice president of marketing and communications for RII

“Through programs like Young Women of Impact, UArizona has made sure that students at Sunnyside know that college is for everyone and that they belong, and can thrive, at this university.”

—Stephanie Ponce, Principal of Sunnyside High School (SHS)

Our Commitment to Inclusion

At the University of Arizona, inclusion makes us stronger.

We embrace the transformative power of diversity and equity, infusing it into every Wildcat's experience, be it in the classroom, research labs, innovation hubs, campus collaboratives, or community outreach. Through purposeful action and an impact-driven approach, we champion inclusive excellence, forging a path towards a brighter, more equitable future. Join us in our celebration of all women—cisgender, transgender, and all who identify.

Learn more about the University of Arizona's purpose, mission, and core values.

Awards Celebration

2023 finalists were celebrated at a private event on Friday, October 20. This year’s guest list also included Young Women of Impact honorees, representing public high schools in Pima County as nominated by the school principal based on characteristics similar to the judging rubric for the UArizona Women of Impact finalists.

The awards celebration opened with remarks from Arizona Governor Katie Hobbs and University of Arizona President Robert C. Robbins. "Tonight's awardees represent the best characteristics of Arizona," said Hobbs. President Robbins addressed the Women of Impact honorees saying “You are leading the way while empowering those around you and preparing the next generation.” And to the Young Women of Impact honorees, he said "You are our future.” Hear their full messages below.

Read more about the contributions of the 2022 cohort.

Conversations with 2022 Women of Impact

Women of Impact award winners provide perspectives on the future of their fields, share what inspires them, and discuss what they've been up to over the last year.

Theresa Crimmins

Theresa Crimmins, UArizona research professor and director of the USA National Phenology Network, discusses the science of exploring nature's rhythms and the importance of growing where you're planted.

Read the full interview

Marla Franco

Marla Franco, UArizona vice president of Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Initiatives, brings the HSI mission to life with a passion for advocacy, an equity-centered approach, and plenty of shared wisdom from friends and colleagues.

Read the full interview

Erika Hamden

Erika Hamden, associate professor of astronomy, explores the faraway stars, planets, and galaxies with advanced ultraviolet telescopes. Hamden, who is especially averse to boredom, also teaches peers how to write winning grant proposals and recently took over as director of the Arizona Space Institute.

Read the full interview

Lalitha Madhavan

Lalitha Madhavan, associate professor of neurology, discusses the potential of stem cell technologies to revolutionize our understanding of age-related neurodegenerative conditions such as Parkinson’s disease, and her passion for helping to shape the next generation of problem-solvers.

Read the full interview

Carol Stewart

Carol Stewart, vice president of Tech Parks Arizona, highlights the ability of universities to spur impactful, real-world innovations and drive regional economic development.

Read the full interview

Judith Su

Judith Su, associate professor of biomedical engineering and optical sciences, discusses the revolutionary potential of optical sensors for rapid, precise medical diagnostics and the importance of advocating for working parents.

Read the full interview

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