top of page

Announcing the Winners of the 14th Annual Women of Innovation Awards!

EAST HARTFORD, CT (March 28, 2018) – Fifty women from across Connecticut were honored for their innovation and leadership during the fourteenth annual Connecticut Technology Council Women of Innovation® Awards presentation on Wednesday, March 28, at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. The Women of Innovation program recognizes women innovators, role models, and leaders in science and technology professions, including outstanding young women at the high school and collegiate level pursuing technology studies. Of these 50 women, 13 were recognized as winners in their respective categories.

“The awards dinner officially kicks off our Women of Innovation program for 2018,” said Bruce Carlson, President and CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council. “We have a growing network of nearly 700 women whom we’ve honored over the past fourteen years. CTC is committed to cultivating a diverse and inclusive tech talent pipeline in our state, and we’re encouraging these women to attend upcoming Women of Innovation networking events to provide career support and enrichment for one another.”

The evening’s awards ceremony was emceed by longtime Women of Innovation supporter Diane Smith, a Connecticut media veteran and Distinguished Lecturer in the Department of Communication, Film and Media Studies at the University of New Haven. The event also featured a panel discussion entitled “Women in STEM: Leading Connecticut Through Innovation.” The panel was moderated by Susan Huntington, a Connecticut partner at Day Pitney LLP, and it included past Women of Innovation honorees Wendy Davis (Founder of GestVision), Radenka Maric, PhD (Vice President for Research at the University of Connecticut), and Elizabeth Waller Peterson (Electrical Engineering Specialist at General Dynamics/Electric Boat).

Presenting Sponsors of this year’s awards were the law firm of Day Pitney LLP, medical device manufacturer Medtronic, and United Technologies Corporation. The Lead Sponsor for the program was ESPN, and Supporting Sponsors were Axinn, Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, CNC Software, Datto, and Pfizer.

The following 13 women were chosen as category winners.


Rishika Maitra, Senior at Academy of Aerospace and Engineering

Rishika lives in Middletown, Connecticut. At the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering, she is a senior member of the math team and an editor of the school newspaper. When she is not competing in programming contests and hackathons, she spends time on bioinformatics and computational biology research. In her free time, she enjoys playing the piano, baking, and reading.

As the winner of this category, Rishika will receive the Medtronic Youth and Innovation Scholarship.


Qin Lu, Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the School of Engineering, University of Connecticut

Qin is a PhD candidate in electrical engineering. She is a highly self-motivated researcher, contributing to eight journal papers and 10 conference papers in her research field in the past three years. Her contributions include both theoretical derivations and algorithm implementations.


Susan Meabh Kelly, Science Teacher at Henry Abbott Technical High School, Connecticut State Department of Education

Susan organizes opportunities for secondary students to engage in science research by designing local, national, and international out-of-school programs. In the hope of seeing more teachers and scientists provide similar opportunities, Susan is leading a national effort to facilitate partnerships between K-12 teachers and scientists. She is pursuing this in conjunction with her PhD studies at the University of Connecticut.


Karen Wosczyna-Birch, Executive Director at Connecticut State Colleges & Universities, College of Technology

Karen is a champion of engineering and tech education and has been instrumental in creating nationally recognized pathway programs between high schools, community colleges, and universities. She serves as Executive Director of the Connecticut State Colleges and Universities’ College of Technology and the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing (a National Science Foundation Center of Excellence). She is also a Professor at Tunxis Community College.


Nicole Gagnon, Mechanical Design Engineer at Pratt & Whitney

Nicole’s passion for aviation motivated her to pursue an active role in the aerospace community. She is a member of the Society of Women Engineers, Women in Aviation International, and Civil Air Patrol. She has earned an M.A. in Aerospace Engineering, and her aspirations and drive have guided her successful career with Pratt & Whitney and made her a valued contributor to the aerospace industry.


Candace Freedenberg, Founder and President of Untapped Potential Inc.

Candace is a technologist and business leader with experience at Laboratory for Laser Energetics, IBM, and Kodak. Her work has yielded more than a dozen patents. Now, as the Founder of Untapped Potential Inc., she is engineering social change for women impacting gender equity, diversity, and work-life balance. She was a finalist for the Small Business Administration’s InnovateHER award, a finalist for the CT Entrepreneur Award, and she received the reSET Incubator Award.

Ashley Kalinauskas, Founder and CEO of Torigen Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

Ashley leads Torigen Pharmaceuticals, a startup that resulted from her graduate thesis project at the University of Notre Dame. Ashley graduated from the University of Connecticut in 2012 with an undergraduate degree in Pathobiology and then chose to continue her education at Notre Dame. Torigen and its first product, VetiVax, are based upon the research of former University of Notre Dame professor Dr. Mark Suckow.


Christine Finck, M.D., Associate Professor of Surgery & Pediatrics at UConn Health Center and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center

Christine is the Surgeon-in-Chief at CCMC. She completed her pediatric surgery fellowship at Arkansas Children’s Hospital and her medical degree and residency at Syracuse. She is focused on developing novel ways to treat neonatal lung and esophageal defects. Her innovations were recognized by The Group on Women in Medicine and Science, who awarded her the Outstanding Clinical Scientist Woman Faculty Award.

Susan J. Baserga, M.D., PhD, Professor of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Genetics, and Therapeutic Radiology at Yale University

Susan was the first woman graduate of Yale College to receive tenure in the biological sciences in the Faculty of Arts and Sciences at Yale. Her laboratory has pioneered the molecular basis of how ribosomes are made in our cells, and they are now pursuing the mechanistic basis of human diseases called ribosomopathies. Susan has a PhD in Human Genetics from Yale.


Marcia LaFemina, President of The Pennsylvania Globe Gaslight Company

As a natural problem solver, Marcia’s outside-the-box approach is driving the Penn Globe team to develop and launch new products that economically integrate Smart IoT capabilities into the American streetscape. With a strong commitment to statewide workforce creation and hiring the unemployed and underemployed, Marcia is creating a dynamic manufacturing model for both product and people development.


Sarah E. Kelly, PhD, Vice President of Pharmaceutical Sciences at Pfizer Inc.

Sarah is head of Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule in the Pfizer Research and Development division based in Groton. Sarah’s team works from early discovery through to technology transfer and manufacturing on every small molecule drug that Pfizer develops. She joined Pfizer in 1986 after receiving her PhD in Synthetic Organic Chemistry from Yale University. Sarah lives in Mystic.

Honey Reddi, PhD, Clinical Laboratory Director at The Jackson Laboratory for Genomic Medicine

Honey is a clinical molecular geneticist with a PhD in Biotechnology and more than two decades of experience in translational research with diverse organizations including the Mayo Clinic. As the Clinical Lab Director at Jackson Labs, she is passionate about impacting patient care through her innovative work and is known for inspiring women in biomedical sciences through her leadership ethic.

Margaret Steinbugler, Manager of Materials Analysis and Mechanics at Pratt & Whitney

Margaret has led innovative teams to deliver new technologies and solutions at four UTC divisions. At UTC Power, she headed the development of a record-setting zero-emission fuel cell for buses. At Pratt & Whitney, she led the materials engineering team that made the company’s first ever CMC turbine blades. In her current role, she has been recognized on four Leadership Award finalist teams, including one winning team.

13 views0 comments


bottom of page