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AWIS-PHL Honors Three College of Medicine Women

December 10, 2020

By Lisa Ryan

The College of Medicine is proud to recognize three members of our community whose work was recognized this semester by the Philadelphia chapter of the Association of Women in Science (AWIS), an organization working to advance opportunities for women in STEM.

Nancy Spector, MD, has been named AWIS’s 2020 Elizabeth W. Bingham Award winner. The College of Medicine professor of pediatrics, associate dean for faculty development, and executive director of the Executive Leadership in Academic Medicine program (ELAM) was recognized this fall by AWIS as a result of her significant impact as a mentor for and champion of women in science.

Nancy Spector, MD

Nancy Spector, MD

Spector’s own early-career experiences helped shape her desire to make it easier for women to grow professionally and thrive in STEM fields.

“When I was junior and in medical training, there weren’t a lot of women around to be role models or mentors for me, so I always recognized that as a gap,” she said. “As I traveled through my journey as a medical educator, I discovered my passion for faculty and professional development and leadership development.”

Spector joined ELAM almost a decade ago and hasn’t looked back. She’s passionate about hosting and building programs, and providing her perspective in institutional presentations and in the media. She also strives to serve as a role model for other women in STEM and to ensure that women have proper mentoring, sponsorship and support at every level of their careers.

“Women should have the support to achieve scholarship, to provide the best patient care they can or do the best science they can,” Spector said. “I also want to ensure that they are nominated for awards, get high visibility, and are supported in their careers overall, because it’s challenging. We’re not at equity in this country at all, when it comes to leadership and academic matters.”

She was excited to see this year’s local AWIS awards supporting the work of two Graduate School of Biomedical and Professional Studies students, as well.

“AWIS is another opportunity to connect people who are more senior with students – graduate students, residents and fellows,” she said. “It’s really special to be encouraged at that stage to do what you love, and to have that opportunity to be funded even when money is so tight right now.”

Dana Lengel is a fifth-year neurobiology and anatomy student studying pediatric traumatic brain injuries with Ramesh Raghupathi, PhD. Lengel is the winner of AWIS’s 2020 Adelaide M. Delluva Student Travel Award.

“It was a validating thing to apply for and win the award,” Lengel said. “It’s rewarding to see that all of the hard work I’ve put in has been recognized.”

She had planned to present research findings at a June 2021 conference that was later cancelled due to the COVID-19 pandemic; AWIS will fund her travel to a later 2021 conference to allow for safe, healthy travel.

Fellow fifth-year neurobiology and anatomy student Genevieve Curtis is in the same situation, and said she looks forward to taking her research on binge-eating behavior from Dr. Jessica R. Barson’s laboratory to a conference hall next year thanks to AWIS’s Chapter Recognition Student Travel Award. She plans to present at a conference held by the Society for the Study of Ingestive Behavior, and is excited to share her work with others who have the same focus.

“Going to a smaller meeting that has people with your specific research interest is really important; it helps with finding postdoc opportunities and making professional connections,” she said. “I'm really excited to present my work at this conference on ingestive behavior, whenever it happens. It means a lot to get to this stage.”