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2016 Leading Light Award Nominees 

Congratulations to the 2016 Leading Light Award and Scholarship Nominees.  We have a record number of nominees this year from a variety of prestigious and influential companies and universities.

Outstanding Achievement in Science, Technology, Engineering, or Math

The nominee must have positively promoted or provided significant value or innovation in a STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) field. The winner will have made noteworthy contributions in areas that may include but are not limited to research & development, design, engineering, operations management, logistics, legal, human resource management, marketing, information technology, or supply chain management.




Maria J. Blanco


Eli Lilly and Company

Ann Bolcavage

Associate Fellow for Coatings

Rolls-Royce Corporation

Megan E. Bunch

Project Engineer, Off-Highway Products

Allison Transmission, Inc.

Yvonne Lai

Vice President of Preclinical Biology and Co-Founder

Anagin, Inc and Indiana University - Bloomington

Valerie Osinski

Senior Vice President and Chief Technology Officer

Project Lead The Way, Inc.

Jennifer Sivak

Senior Director of Business Transformation and Information Technology


Sherry Voytik-Harbin

Associate Professor of Biomedical Engineering, Pudue University; Founder, GeniPhys

Purdue University; GeniPhys

You Inspire Us!

The nominee will have demonstrated success in inspiring women and others in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) to look beyond their own horizons and set professional and personal goals that exceed those originally conceived. The nominee need have no connection to those she inspires. Rather, based on her advocacy, leadership, presence, and/or visibility in the community for having advanced the areas of STEM in Indiana, she inspires us all to push the limits.

Nominee  Title Organization
Jennifer Aikins Director of Learning Eleven Fifty Academy
Erin AlbertEntrepreneur, Writer, Health Outcomes Pharmacist, Attorney, Coach and PodcasterMyers and Stauffer, LLC.; Pharm, LLC; Yupsie LLC
Laura Dodds Executive DirectorTechPoint Foundation For Youth 
Ronda HammPatent LiaisonDow AgroSciences, LLC
Carla Johnson Associate Dean for Research, Engagement, and Global Partnerships Purdue University
Aimee Kandrac Co-Founder WhatFriendsDo.com
Sally Reasoner Director of Talent Initiative TechPoint



This award will recognize an individual who has increased Indiana women's impact, representation, and effectiveness in the STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) community through outstanding technological leadership and social contributions in her organization and/or the broader community.

Nominee Title  Organization
Sarah Burns Editorial and Social Media Strategy Manager Indiana University Health
Laura DoddsExecutive DirectorTechPoint Foundation For Youth 
Kathryn Elliott Chief of Performance and Noise Engineering -Rolls-Royce Corporation Rolls-Royce Corporation; RR Women North America
Louise Hughes Vice President, Client Solutions & Delivery Allegient
Karen Jung President Nextech
Karen Mangia Vice President, Customer & Market Insights Salesforce
Shankali Pradhan
Purdue University
Karen Ramsey-Idem Director, Global Technical Resource Planning and Management Cummins
Michelle Smith Trait Development Leader Dow AgroSciences, LLC
Michelle Jones Thompson Lead Change and Problem Management MISO Energy
Ashley Vukovits Chief Financial Officer Interactive Intelligence


Mentor Me!  

The individual or organization must be employed by or have an Indiana-based headquarters, subsidiary, or division, and have concentrated their mentoring efforts in Indiana. The winner will have committed to the encouragement and advancement of women in the science or technology fields and will have demonstrated success in career, leadership, and education opportunities for women. This commitment might be demonstrated in the field of education, or with a non-profit or for-profit corporation. 

Nominee  Title  Organization
Dawn Andrus Chief of Capability & Innovations - Controls Systems Rolls-Royce Corporation
Alexandra Baucco Turbine Component Engineer Rolls-Royce Corporation
Molly Conn FPM - Project Management Rolls-Royce Corporation
Akilah Darden Project Executive TriVersity Construction
Robin Fleming Senior Vice President of Technology Angie's List
Bharati Nepal Operations Applications Analyst II MISO
Linda Rorick-Kehn Principle Research Scientist Lilly Research Labs, a division of Eli Lilly and Company
Rebecca Ruselink Vice President, Information TechnologyInteractive Intelligence
Kimberly Steward Associate Scientist Dow AgroSciences, LLC

Outstanding Educator in Science, Technology, Engineering or Math

The nominee must be a current educator at a K-12 school or an institution of higher learning in the State of Indiana and must have a primary academic focus in STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math). Public, private, and parochial school nominees will be considered.  

The winner will have demonstrated excellence in teaching innovative programs that promote student interest, success, and leadership in STEM. Special consideration will be given to those who have implemented programs to teach these disciplines in a hands-on environment and to those who have demonstrated a commitment to young women in these areas.

Nominee Title Organization
Christine Floyd PLTW Teacher Brownsburg High School
Sujuan Gao Professor of Biostatistics Indiana University
Susan McDowell Professor Ball State University
Marcy Towns Professor of Chemistry Department of Chemistry, Purdue University


Risk Taker

The nominee must have demonstrated courage in promoting purposeful change for which success was not guaranteed.

The winner will have successfully pursued innovation, whether in pursuit of programs, projects, initiatives, technology adoption/innovation in the public, private, or non-profit sectors.

Nominee  Title Organization
Sola Adelowo Founder & Certified Image Consultant StylistModi & ImageCube LLC
Kristen Cooper Founder The Startup Ladies
Brianna Dill Associate Producer & Post Production Coordinator Gaither Studio/Gaither Music Company
Jocelyn Dunn Chief Scientist & Founder of Earthonauts Purdue University & NASA
Karen L Ewing Senior Manager, Supplier Quality Development Engineering Allison Transmission, Inc.
Sally Reasoner Director of Talent Initiatives TechPoint
Lakshmi Sastry-Dent Global Intellectual Property Process Leader Dow AgroSciences, LLC
Shelly Towns Senior Vice President of Product Angie's List


Rising Star 

The nominee will have demonstrated exceptional and substantive achievements in leadership early in their STEM (science, technology, engineering, or math) related career.

Nominee TitleOrganization
Takia Easley Technical Program Manager Rolls-Royce Corporation
Jennifer Flachs Manufacturing Engineer, Purchasing Turbine Castings Rolls-Royce North America
Negar Garizi Senior Research Scientist Dow AgroSciences, LLC
Brittney Helt Client Advocate Russell Martin & Associates
Sarah Johnson Director, IT Project Lead The Way, Inc.
Susan Kiplinger Operations Manager/IT Spring House, Inc./Gaither Music Group
Ran Liao Phd Candidate Indiana University
Liyun Huang Lucas Engineer I, Torsional Analysis Allison Transmission, Inc.
Kelsey Mitchell Control Systems Engineer Rolls-Royce Corporation
Djenan Soumahoro Manufacturing Engineer Greenlee Textron
Laura Wayne Associate Research Scientist Dow AgroSciences, LLC


Scholarship Nominees 

With thanks to our outstanding sponsors, Women & Hi Tech is honored to provide two $5,000 scholarships this year.  (Additional scholarships may also be awarded by our sponsors).  The scholarships will be awarded to women living in Indiana with the intent to remain in the state after graduating to put their education to work in our community. The Women & Hi Tech Scholarships are open to women pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering or math.

Nominee School Degree Program
Nouran Amin Indiana University-Purdue University of Indianapolis BS -  Biology
Emily Barge Grace College BS -  Life Science Education
Charlanski Bates Ivy Tech Community College ASS -  Health Care Specialist Associates of Applied Science
Caitlin Behme University of Indianapolis BS -  Chemistry/Biology Double
Sydney Boyce Purdue University BS -  Engineering
Claire Etchason Purdue University BS -  Mechanical Engineering
Carla Fincher Saint Francis University BS -  Nursing
Anna Garst IUPUI BA -  Computer and Information Technology
Addison Gepfert University of Cincinnati BS -  Biomedical Engineering
Audra Gierscher Purdue University BS -  Virtual Product Integration
Abigail Grover University of Indianapolis BS -  Biology
Wendi Hasty Ivy Tech Community College BS -  Criminal Justice
Blakely Heaton Butler University BS -  Biomedical Engineering and Biology, Dual Degree
Anne Krietenstein Butler University BS -  Biology
Ran Liao IUPUI PhD -  Biostatistics
Cathleen Lofland IUPUI BS -  Mechanical Engineering
Julia Miller Purdue University BS -  Mechanical Engineering
Riley Mineart Indiana University, Bloomington MS -  Human-Computer Interaction/Design
Denaya Mras University of Saint Francis MSN -  Family Nurse Practitioner
Miranda Neville DePauw University BA -  Computer Science
Zei Ni University of Indianapolis BS -  Biology, Pre-Med
Riley Peppler Indiana University - Bloomington BS -  Chemistry
Shankali Pradhan Purdue University/College of Engineering PhD -  Chemical Engineering
Erika Rasnick University of Indianapolis BS -  Biology
Teresa Rose University of Indianapolis BS-  Chemistry/Exercise Science
Mary Rushton Purdue University PhD -  Entomology
Emily Starr Butler University MS -  Pharmacy
Michelle Tanaka Purdue University BS -  Mechanical Engineering
Ashley Tanner University of Saint Francis-Fort Wayne Indiana MBA - Business Admin
Laura Tonner Butler University BS-  Science, Technology, and Society
Hollee Trent Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology BS and MS -  Mathematics


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