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Finalists Named for 2021 Women of Innovation® Awards

Leaders in STEM Recognized for Outstanding Achievements; Awards Event is Oct. 14

The Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT) today announced the finalists for the 17th annual Women of Innovation® awards, which recognize and celebrate women throughout Connecticut for their achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (STEM).

The prestigious awards are earned by women innovators, role models and leaders in STEM. This year’s finalists are the scientists, researchers, academics, manufacturers, student leaders, entrepreneurs, and technicians who are catalysts for scientific advancement throughout Connecticut.

Finalists in the 17th annual awards program add to the growing network of over 800 Women of Innovation® award honorees through the years, advancing in STEM disciplines across Connecticut. Women of Innovation® finalists are nominated by their peers, coworkers, and mentors and are selected based on their professional experience, history of innovation, ability to think creatively and solve problems and demonstration of leadership.

Exceptional women in STEM pursuing technology studies at the high school, undergraduate and graduate level are also among the finalists and were selected based on inventiveness and accomplishments in science and technology, independent research, as well as academic achievement and community service.

“We are incredibly fortunate in Connecticut to have extraordinarily talented women throughout the STEM disciplines. These brilliant women are an indispensable catalyst in Connecticut’s economic comeback,” says Giovanni Tomasi, President/Chief Technology Officer of RSL Fiber Systems and Board Chair of CTC.

“The WOI program is incredibly inspiring because it really shines a light on women in academia, research, and small companies,” says Jacquelynn Garofano, Ph.D., Chief Technology Officer of CCAT. “Many of these women do not receive enough recognition. There is so much innovation happening across our state and these awards provide a place for everyone to celebrate together.”

The 36 finalists for the 17th annual Women of Innovation® Awards were selected from scores of nominations across 10 categories. A complete list of the Finalists for Women of Innovation® Awards can be seen below.

Nominations for the 17th annual Women of Innovation® Awards were accepted in the following categories of Innovation and Leadership: Youth, Collegian, Secondary Academic, Postsecondary Academic, Research, Community, Entrepreneurial, Small Business, Medium Business and Large Business. An award will also be given for Inspiring STEM Equitability, presented to an individual for promoting equality and diversity in STEM.

Award Winners to be Selected from Finalists at Oct. 14 Virtual Event

Winners in each of the 10 categories - remarkable women leading Connecticut’s future in STEM across a wide range of professions and pursuits - will be announced this fall at a virtual awards ceremony, to be held on October 14 at 5:00 pm. The virtual event will be emceed by News 8 Anchor/Reporter Sarah Cody. Learn more at

“As these finalists demonstrate, women in STEM in Connecticut are leading innovation, achieving breakthroughs, and encouraging girls to do that and more,” Tomasi added. “Connecticut’s economy is expanding and becoming more robust in great part by achieving and sustaining leadership in STEM. These are the people whose contributions are critical in our state’s renaissance.”

All accepted nominees had to meet the following minimum requirements: Must be currently working or studying in the state of Connecticut, demonstrate strong leadership abilities, and serving or previously served as a mentor, either short or long term, peer mentor, career mentor or life mentor. Nominees must also meet the specific requirements of the award for which they were nominated.

The highly anticipated awards event is presented by the Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) and Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology (CCAT). Sponsors for the event include Medtronic, Pfizer, and Sonalysts. Media sponsors include WTNH News 8, Hearst CT Media, Hartford Business Journal and New Haven BIZ. Additional sponsorships are available; sponsorship information is available by contacting Maureen Lord at For more information, go to

The Connecticut Technology Council is a statewide, member-based trade association focused on uniting and growing Connecticut's technology community by connecting leaders, driving public policy, and providing needed resources to growing tech companies. The CTC works together with members and the community at large to advance Connecticut's reputation as a technology state.

The Connecticut Center for Advanced Technology Inc., a 501(c)3 nonprofit, validates, demonstrates, and encourages the adoption of leading-edge technologies into global industrial companies and the advanced manufacturing supply chain, while also providing the training and education necessary to utilize the capability of these advancements and drive efficiency.

The 2021 Women of Innovation® by category, with their affiliated organizations:

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Gunjan Bhardwaj, COO | Vista IT Solutions, LLC

  • Carol Yvette Thorney, Founder, President and CEO | Thorney Advisors

Research Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Martha Gilmore, George I. Seney Professor of Geology | Wesleyan University

  • Amy Gorin, Director l Institute for Collaboration on Health, Intervention and Policy, UConn

  • Xiuling Lu, Associate Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences | UConn School of Pharmacy

  • Nilanjana Maulik, Professor l UConn School of Medicine, UConn Health

  • Codruta Zoican-Loebick, Senior Research Engineer l Precision Combustion, Inc.

Small/Medium Business Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Erika Araujo, Research Investigator l Arvinas, Inc.

  • Chun Li , VP, Informatics l Diameter Health

  • Billie Jo Mitchell, VP, Manufacturing l RSL Fiber Systems, LLC

  • Melissa Tait, Senior Vice President, Technology l Primacy

  • Marie Zuckerman, Patent Agent l Precision Combustion, Inc.

Large Business Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Eileen Bartley, Chief Engineer | Collins Aerospace

  • Laurie Chipperfield, Senior Director, Chemical Research & Development | Pfizer

  • Jenny Gaffney, Sr. Project Manager | The Walt Disney Company

  • Laura Macca, Director, Business Transformation | EisnerAmper LLC

  • Megan Rosengarten, President, Surgical Robotics | Medtronic

  • Carolyn Schreiber, Cybersecurity Consulting Principal | Ernst & Young LLP (EY)

  • Christine Wetzel, Manufacturing Technology Manager | 3M

Community Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Erica DePalma, Senior Vice President, Digital Marketing | Media Horizons, LLC

  • Lila Lu, F135 Earned Value Analyst | Pratt & Whitney

  • Lisa Roy, Director of Government & Community Relations | The Jackson Laboratory

  • Adrienna Yan, Design Engineer l Pratt & Whitney

Inspiring STEM Equitability Award FINALISTS

  • Anna Marie LaChance, Ph.D. Candidate l UConn School of Engineering

  • Michelle Williams, Associate VP for Research | University of Connecticut

Youth Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Sivani Arvapalli, South Windsor High School

  • Emily Larkin, Joel Barlow High School, Redding

  • Sarah Mensah, Connecticut IB Academy, East Hartford

  • Alexandra Popescu, Joel Barlow High School, Redding

  • Wendy Zhang, Amity Regional High School, Woodbridge

Collegian Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Alexis Ernst, Ph.D. Candidate, Materials Science & Engineering | University of Connecticut

  • Yikun Huang, Ph.D. Candidate | University of Connecticut

Secondary Academic Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Nicole Ciccarelli, 6th Grade Science Teacher | Windsor Locks Middle School

  • Amy Cornell, Science Teacher, Robotics Coach, Health & Wellness Curriculum Coordinator | The Country School, Madison

Post-Secondary Academic Innovation and Leadership FINALISTS

  • Jacqueline Duncan, Clinical Professor & Associate Dean for Clinical Affairs | UConn School of Dental Medicine

  • Andrea Kwaczala, Assistant Professor of Biomedical Engineering | Western New England University

Media Contact: Bernard Kavaler


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