Sixty-five women from across Connecticut were honored for their innovation and leadership during the 12th annual Women of Innovation Awards Gala, which was held April 6 at the Aqua Turf Club in Southington, CT. 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 65 women, 10 were recognized as category winners.
Presenting sponsors of this year’s event were the law firm of Day Pitney LLP, the accounting firm Ernst & Young, medical device manufacturer Medtronic, and United Technologies Corporation.
“The Council is honored to recognize Connecticut’s most extraordinary and talented women representing a cross section of the state’s most important technology companies and educational institutions,” said Bruce Carlson, President and CEO of the Connecticut Technology Council.
Congresswoman Elizabeth Esty of the state’s 5th Congressional district was the evening keynoter. Esty’s STEM Education Act is helping states promote a higher level of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) preparedness. For this reason, the Connecticut Technology Council recognized her with a Public Sector Innovation and Leadership award during the event.
The following 10 women were chosen as category winners. Two winners were chosen in the Academic and Small Business categories:
ACADEMIC INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP (two winners)
Chinma Uche, Math & Computer Science Teacher, CREC Academy of Aerospace and Engineering
Chinma Uche, a math and computer science teacher, is a proponent of computer science education at all grade levels, believing it fuels innovation in all fields. She serves as president of the Connecticut Computer Science Teachers Association and was selected as the 2015 CREC Teacher of the Year.
Jani Pallis, Associate Professor, Mechanical Engineering, University of Bridgeport
Jani Pallis has devoted 30 years to reaching students on all levels, engineering colleagues and educators with her innovative and creative curriculum. She is an engineering faculty member with an emphasis on aerospace outreach and sports engineering.
COLLEGIAN INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Jacquelyn Kubicko, Cadet, United States Coast Guard Academy
Jacquelyn Kubicko is a senior at the United States Coast Guard Academy. She is ranked number one in her class and has received orders to Naval Flight Training, where she aspires to be a Coast Guard Search & Rescue helicopter pilot. Jacquelyn has recently received a Fulbright U.S. Student Award.
COMMUNITY INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Carolyn Begnoche, Senior Design/Drafter at Pratt & Whitney Aircraft
Carolyn Begnoche is Outreach Chair for the Society of Women Engineers, an active member of Women in Aviation International, and a judge for the FIRST Robotics Competition and the Connecticut Invention Convention. Carolyn is also the Society of Women Engineers collegiate counselor at Central Connecticut State University.
ENTREPRENEURIAL INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Nicole Bucala, President and CEO, MIFCOR
Nicole Bucala‘s biotech company is dedicated to commercializing novel therapeutics that extend the lives of stroke, heart attack, and kidney injury victims.
LARGE BUSINESS INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Terri Wells, Vice President, Global Marketing for Access & Instruments, Medtronic
Terri Wells is a 20+ year veteran of the medical device industry. She has launched and managed numerous device products as well as directed portfolio and brand strategy.
RESEARCH INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Annabelle Rodriguez-Oquendo, Linda and David Roth Chair of Cardiovascular Research, University of Connecticut Health Center
Annabelle Rodriguez-Oquendo is an internationally recognized expert in cholesterol metabolism and the genetics of the HDL receptor SCARB1. She is also the founder of Lipid Genomics, a Farmington, CT-based drug development company targeting cholesterol disorders.
SMALL BUSINESS INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP (two winners)
Dina Dubey, Executive Vice President, Corporate Development, Z-Medica
Dina Dubey is responsible for business development, research and development, quality assurance, clinical affairs, and U.S. & International Regulatory affairs at Z-Medica, a medical device company based in Wallingford, CT.
Merrie London, Manager, Small Business Innovation Research and Federal Leveraging Programs, Connecticut Innovations
Merrie London has developed and manages a $1 million+ state fund for small business innovation and research.
YOUTH INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Helen Liu, Senior, Amity Regional High School
Helen Liu is an exceptional student who has explored a diversity of research topics over the last four years, and was one of the rare high school students accepted into the 2015 Jackson Genomics Laboratory summer student program. She has received many STEM awards including: 2014 and 2015 finalist of the NCWIT Aspirations in Computing Award and finalist in the 2015 Young Naturalist Award (American Museum of Natural History). Helen is co-author of a paper currently under review for publication with her mentors from New York University. She tied for first place in the Connecticut STEM Fair and placed second overall in the Connecticut Science and Engineering Fair in the Biotech category and third place in the Life Sciences category. Most recently, Helen was selected as one of the top 40 finalists in the Intel Science Talent Search in Washington, DC.
Visit the Connecticut Technology Council website for a complete list of the 2016 Women of Innovation Honorees.
About the Connecticut Technology Council
The Connecticut Technology Council (CTC) is the state’s industry association for the technology sector. The CTC’s mission is to “connect people, ideas, and opportunities to the global technology and innovation community.” The CTC provides members with business assistance and specialized programs, in addition to promoting and supporting public policies that position Connecticut to have a globally recognized “culture of innovation” that helps attract great ideas and entrepreneurs to in turn develop new jobs and wealth for the state.