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The Connecticut Technology Council Announces Winners of the 13th Annual Women of Innovation Awards

HARTFORD, CT (March 29, 2017) – Fifty women from across Connecticut were honored for their innovation and leadership during the thirteenth annual Connecticut Technology Council Women of Innovation® Awards Ceremony on March 29th at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. The awards program recognized 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, nine were recognized as winners in their respective categories.

“The awards dinner officially kicks-off the reinvigorated Women of Innovation® Program for 2017,” said Bruce Carlson, President and CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council. “We have a growing network of over 600 women that we have honored over the past thirteen years that the CTC is committed to cultivating to promote a diverse and inclusive tech talent pipeline for Connecticut.”

The evening awards ceremony was emceed once again by Connecticut media maven Diane Smith. Catherine Smith, Commissioner of the Connecticut Department of Economic and Community Development spoke to the importance of women and girls in STEM, underscoring the essential nature of this long-standing event. The keynote address was given by Adda Birnir, the Founder and CEO of Skillcrush, the country’s largest online education company focused on training women in technical topics, boasting an audience of over 250,000 women actively learning life-changing digital skills, empowering them with the skills they need to enter high-earning and flexible careers.

Presenting Sponsors of this year’s program are the law firm of Day Pitney LLP, medical device manufacturer Medtronic and United Technologies Corporation. The Lead Sponsor for the program is Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Company. Supporting Sponsors include Datto, ESPN, Frontier Communications, and Pfizer. The program is further supported by Contributing Sponsors Boehringer Ingelheim Pharmaceuticals, CNC Software, Marcum, LLP., Pitney Bowes, and Premier Limousine.

The following nine women were chosen as category winners; two winners were chosen in the Academic category:

Academic Innovation and Leadership (two Winners):

Michelle Bellinger, CREC Academy of Aerospace & Engineering Michelle motivates students to excel, challenges them to think outside the box, and inspires them to pursue their passion. She teaches physics and engineering and has received numerous awards including a Lockheed Martin NSTA Fellow and an Envisionary Educator Award. She works with students in and out of the classroom, advising independent research projects, organizing Women in Science and Engineering STEMinars, and mentoring female students in the Worldwide Technovation Challenge.

Janice Naegele, Wesleyan University Janice earned her PhD at MIT, completed postdoctoral research at Rockefeller and Yale Universities, and joined Wesleyan University in 1991. She directed the Center for Faculty Career Development and was Chair of Biology. She received the Louise Hansen Marshall Award from the Society for Neuroscience for mentoring women in science. Her lab investigates stem cell repair of the brain.

Collegian Innovation and Leadership: Erin Duffy, Yale University, Yale Center for Molecular Discovery Erin completed a combined BS/MS degree at UConn in 2012. Her PhD thesis in Dr. Matthew Simon’s lab at Yale University involves developing chemical tools to probe how cells regulate gene expression. In her spare time, Erin participates in programs to mentor and encourage women in STEM from kindergarten to graduate school. She is also an Irish step dancer and will compete at the World Championships in Dublin this year.

Community Innovation and Leadership: Claudine Phaire, Sikorsky Aircraft, a Lockheed Martin Company Claudine was inspired by astronauts like Sally Ride, Ronald McNair and Fredrick Gregory. She graduated Brooklyn Tech HS Aerospace Engineering program and earned Bachelor of Science degrees in Aerospace and Mechanical Engineering from the SUNY at Buffalo, an Airframe and Powerplant certificate in Airframe and Powerplant from ERAU and a MBA from RPI. Claudine is passionate about encouraging young people to enter careers in Engineering and Aviation.

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership:

Wendy Davis, GestVision, Inc. Wendy’s company is focused on commercializing a novel diagnostic for preeclampsia. She has 20+ years’ experience in biotechnology cultivating early stage inventions through to commercialization. Wendy brings science & technology, intellectual property, business development and leadership skills to solving a 2000-year-old problem in women’s health. Wendy holds an MBA: Leadership in Healthcare from Yale and a BA from Swarthmore College.

Large Business Innovation and Leadership:

Jacquline Jones, Medtronic Jackie is an R&D Manager at Medtronic leading a team focused on clinical engineering and user experience of a next generation surgical robot. Since joining in 2007, she’s had increasing roles on numerous advanced technology products. Jackie’s earned a Ph.D. in Biomedical Engineering from Case Western Reserve University with research focused on the foreign body response. She is a passionate leader for inclusion and development in the Medtronic and STEM communities.

Small Business Innovation and Leadership:

Anna Felicitas Thurmayr, Quality Health Ideas, Inc. Feli graduated medical school in 1991 and had her doctoral thesis accepted in 1992. After residency training she became a primary care physician. In 1997, she co-founded and is Chairman and Chief Medical Officer of QHI, which provides data, clinical and consulting services to health plans, hospitals, and care providers, and QHI’s health management tools are now used by 10,000 physicians in 11 states, including in Connecticut.

Research Innovation and Leadership:

Nancy Petry, UConn Health Center Nancy received a PhD in Psychology from Harvard University. She is a Professor of Medicine at UConn Health and conducts NIH funded research related to treating addictive disorders and improving health outcomes.

Youth Innovation and Leadership: Nickolina Doran, Senior, CREC Greater Hartford Academy of Math & Science This past summer, Nickolina studied in a biomedical lab as part of the Yale Discovery to Cure Internship Program. She has competed in the worldwide Technovation Challenge and researched a microbiology project in school. Nickolina excels as a leader in the classroom, on the lacrosse field, and in the community. Nickolina aspires to continue her love for research in college, and she hopes to combine her interests in biology and computer science.

About the Connecticut Technology Council

The Connecticut Technology Council ( is Connecticut’s industry association for the technology sector. The mission of the Connecticut Technology Council is to spark innovation, cultivate tech talent, advocate for industry-beneficial law and policy, expand the scope of industry networking and professional development, and celebrate industry achievements in the state

Our vision is to support and promote Connecticut’s tech ecosystem to lead as a national model.


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