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The Connecticut Technology Council Announces the Winners of the 15th Annual Women of Innovation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

EAST HARTFORD, CT (March 28, 2018) Fifty-one women from across Connecticut were honored for their innovation and leadership during the 15th annual Connecticut Technology Council Women of Innovation® Awards presentation on Wednesday, March 27, at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington. The Women of Innovation program recognizes women innovators, role models, and leaders in science and technology professions, as well as outstanding young women at the high school and collegiate level pursuing technology studies. Of these finalists, 11 were recognized as winners in their respective categories.

“We introduced two new awards this year, the Inspiring STEM Equitability Award for an organization and an individual promoting access and inclusion in STEM,” says Taylor Van Antwerp, Manager of Talent and Workforce Programs at CTC and organizer of WOI. “The winners of these categories, Medtronic and Stephany Santos, truly embody the spirit of the award. Mentorship and encouraging girls, young women, and other underrepresented populations to enter STEM fields was a pervasive theme of the evening with virtually all of the finalists engaged in bringing up others behind them to lead in the future.”

The evening’s awards ceremony was emceed by WTNH News 8 anchor and reporter Jocelyn Maminta, who interviewed accomplished business leader and Connecticut First Lady Annie Lamont on stage in lieu of a traditional keynote address. Ms. Lamont said that, while women are still generally underrepresented in tech business overall, she is experiencing some positive trends for women in the sector. “I’m seeing more women as CEOs that are coming and pitching business plans to us, but I am [also] seeing more women on the teams, which is great,” she observed. “I think many of those women will become the CEOs. Women have to visualize themselves as the CEOs. As that evolves, you’re going to have more women in the venture industry too.”

The awards dinner kicked off the 2019 Women of Innovation program for the Connecticut Technology Council, which will continue with networking, professional development and mentorship opportunities and events throughout the year. In fact, presenting at booths and seated with the finalists at the awards dinner were four Connecticut Invention Convention (CIC) students.

The presenting sponsor for the evening was Medtronic. Lead sponsors for the event were Datto, Day Pitney, and United Technologies. Additional support was provided by Axinn, iDevices, Oxford Performance Materials, Pfizer, Pullman & Comley, and UConn. Production sponsor was HB Communications, and media partner for the event was WTNH News 8, which broadcast the keynote interview via Facebook Live.

Along with Medtronic’s recognition, the following 11 women were chosen as category winners.

INSPIRING STEM EQUITABILITY (ORGANIZATION)

MEDTRONIC

With roots in Connecticut dating back 60 years, Medtronic is truly a leader in STEM Equitability. The company has a wide range of initiatives to achieve diversity — encouraging women who want to follow a STEM career path. Medtronic has the goal of having 40 percent female leadership by 2020 and is currently at 38 percent. This has prompted the growth of a host of innovative policies for new parents and a broad selection of professional development opportunities.

INSPIRING STEM EQUITABILITY (INDIVIDUAL)

STEPHANY SANTOS
Biomedical Engineering PhD Candidate, University of Connecticut

Stephany works to create a legacy of inclusion at UConn and beyond. In 2010, she co-founded Engineering Ambassadors which now has over 100 members who inspire K-12 students to enter STEM fields, reaching over 40,000 students to date. In addition, Stephany develops courses teaching communication and engineering empathy and mentors underrepresented students in her research lab. Stephany also co-founded the John Lof Leadership Institute, and researches confidence, identity, and microaggressions in underrepresented students. She serves on the American Society for Engineering Education Student Board, UConn’s Institutional Review Board and Senate Diversity Committee.

YOUTH INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

ANNIKA MORGAN
Student at Joel Barlow High School

Annika is passionate about expanding access to high-quality medical care across all socioeconomic lines. As a field trainer and tutor for EMTs, Annika supports individuals training to pass their state EMT exams. At school, she is a captain of the Science Bowl team, a member of varsity math team, and a founding member of the Youth Mental Health First Aid support team. Building on experiences in the Yale Virology and Neuroscience Departments, Annika will be studying biomedical engineering at Dartmouth College this fall.

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

COLLEGIAN INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

YAN LI
Recent Ph.D. graduate, University of Connecticut Electrical & Computer Engineering (ECE) Department

Yan has made meaningful contributions to Connecticut’s energy landscape by inventing new technologies that help integrate distributed energy resources for power grids and protect energy infrastructures from cyber-physical attacks. As a student advisor and supervisor for electrical and computer engineering senior design teams, Yan mentors graduate and undergraduate students working on a variety of innovative projects. She has contributed to academic and industrial publications and holds four patents for microgrid stability technology.

ACADEMIC INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP (SECONDARY)

KATHERINE NUZZO
Chemistry Teacher, Science Symposium Coordinator, Science Research Advisor, Joel Barlow High School

Katherine has taught for 32 years and currently instructs students in various levels of chemistry, while also serving Joel Barlow High School’s science symposium coordinator and research advisor. With a focus on the growth of young women participants in science competitions, Katherine has facilitated the leadership roles of young women in the Sikorsky STEM Challenge and the Northeast Regional H.S. Science Bowl. She holds a BS in Marine Biology and a PhD in Analytical Chemistry from Texas A&M.

ACADEMIC INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP (POSTSECONDARY)

LAURA GRABEL
Laura B. Dachs Chair of Science and Society, Wesleyan University

Laura is a highly accomplished scientist engaged in understanding how the fertilized egg can become a complex organism. In addition to publishing a dozens of academic articles and a book on ethical stem cell research, Laura creates and fosters STEM initiatives that focus on supporting women in science such as teaching a course on biology of women at York Correctional Institution and collaborating with professional choreographers to convey complex scientific concepts through movement and dance in and outside of the classroom.

COMMUNITY INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

PATRICE GANS
Founder, Executive Director, Random Hacks of Kindness Junior

Patrice’s organization aims to empower students to use technology to positively impact local nonprofits in their communities. In addition to advising two Girls Who Code clubs, Patrice is part of the Girl Scouts of CT STEM Advisory Group, has served on the board directors of the Computer Science Teachers Association as their national K-8 representative, was a member of Representative Elizabeth Esty’s STEM Advisory Board, and helped a high school girl launch a new program through the National Center for Women & Information Technology (NCWIT).

ENTREPRENEURIAL INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

ELENA CAHILL
President, Globelé Energy; Director of the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business, University of Bridgeport

Author of the book The Business of Energy and creator of the Executive Energy Summit, Elena Cahill is president of Globelé Energy. Her passion for energy and education has helped her educate the commercial and industrial sectors about sustainability, reducing their carbon output. Additionally, Elena is the director of the Ernest C. Trefz School of Business at the University of Bridgeport, where she is a senior lecturer and director of the Student Entrepreneur Center. In 2016 she was named “Entrepreneur of the Year” by the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce.

RESEARCH INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

JINBO BI
Department of Computer Science and Engineering, University of Connecticut

Jinbo is a world leader in research on designing innovative Artificial Intelligence (AI) approaches to diagnose disease, treat complex disorders, and understand the biological basis of pathologies. Jinbo has 11 awarded and 9 pending U.S. patents for the use of AI tools and methods for biological applications such as detecting patterns and objects from extremely complex data, including medical images. Her creative work in mining medical images was awarded a Data Mining Practice Award by the ACM, the world’s largest computing society.

SMALL BUSINESS INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

KAREN MURDOCH
Product Manager, Skyre

Karen takes great pride in improving existing technology to enhance performance or ease of use. An entrepreneur and innovator, Karen spent 18 years with United Technologies’ Space Systems group advancing life support systems for manned space exploration. In 2005, she started her own engineering consulting business providing technical support for the aerospace and alternative fuel industries. Karen has helped advance hydrogen recycling and fuel production in order to make green technology economically viable for industry.

MEDIUM BUSINESS INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

SHARON TRAFICANTE
Deputy Executive Director – Administration, Connecticut Airport Authority

Sharon worked with State officials and airline representatives to support Bradley International Airport’s new routes and services. Her innovative approach and commitment to customer service has helped drive continued growth at the airport. Sharon enhanced the CAA internship program and serves as a mentor for emerging leaders at the airport. As a member of the American Association of Airport Executives’ Northeast Chapter Board of Directors, Sharon also mentors aviation professionals throughout the region.

LARGE BUSINESS INNOVATION & LEADERSHIP

JAMIE PERRY
Vice President, Risk Management, Connecticut On-Line Computer Center (COCC)

Jamie brings over 10 years of experience in governance, risk management, compliance, and information security to her role as vice president of risk management at COCC. She works to elevate all of COCC’s information security efforts, as well as oversee corporate risk management and governance. In addition, Jamie is building an information technology network within COCC that helps women focus on the skills required to advance in the IT field.

About The Connecticut Technology Council

Celebrating its 25th year of operation in 2019, the Connecticut Technology Council is a statewide association of technology-oriented companies and institutions, providing leadership in areas of policy advocacy, community building, and support for growing companies. The mission of the Connecticut Technology Council is to spark innovation, cultivate tech talent, foster business growth, advocate for industry-beneficial law and policy, expand the scope of industry networking and professional development, and celebrate industry achievements in the state. The CTC seeks to serve Connecticut’s technology ecosystem by providing leadership, support, mentoring, and advocacy to companies across every industry and at every stage of growth.