This piece by Contact Reporter Rebecca Lurye originally appeared in the Harford Courant March 30, 2018
A Pratt & Whitney engineer who helped develop the company’s first CMC turbine blades, a Middletown teenager who juggles hackathons with computational biology research, and a teacher working to partner scientists with educators like herself were among 13 Connecticut women honored Wednesday for their innovation and leadership.
On Wednesday, March 28, the Connecticut Technology Council selected the winners of its 14th annual Women of Innovation awards from among a group of 50 finalists. Nearly 700 women have been honored by the council since 2004.
The winners range from students and mentors to scientists and chief executives.
They include Margaret Steinbugler, manager of materials analysis and mechanics at Pratt & Whitney and one of three women to win the council’s Large Business Innovation and Leadership award.
Steinbugler, of East Hartford, has held leadership positions at four divisions of United Technologies Corp. She helped develop a zero-emission fuel cell for buses that set records for its durability and headed the materials engineering team that made the company’s first turbine blades from ceramic matrix composites.
Rishika Maitra, a senior at the Academy of Aerospace and Engineering in Windsor, won the council’s Youth Innovation and Leadership Award.
Maitra was a national runner-up for the 2018 Center for Women and Information Technology award. She works in a computational biology lab studying the relationship between immune infiltration and cancer patient survival.
In secondary education, Bridgewater's Susan Meabh Kelly won the Academic Innovation and Leadership Award. The science teacher at Henry Abbott Technical School in Danbury is pursuing a doctorate in curriculum while she leads a national effort to foster partnerships between teachers and scientists at universities and agencies, such as NASA and NOAA.
Other winners include:
LARGE BUSINESS INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Kelly, of Groton, manages a $170 million budget at Pfizer, a company of more than 750 scientists, engineers and manufacturers.
Reddi, of Cheshire, is a clinical molecular geneticist with more than two decades of experience in translational research.
SMALL BUSINESS INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Marcia LaFemina, president of the Pennsylvania Globe Gaslight Company.
LaFemina, of North Branford, is leading work to create a manufacturing model that will improve not only product development but workforce development with the hiring of the underemployed and unemployed.
ENTREPRENEURIAL INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Freedenberg, of Canton, has generated more than a dozen patents with her work and founded Untapped Potential, an organization that supports women’s re-entry into the workforce.
Kalinauskas, of Vernon, provides veterinary cancer care solutions for more than 2 million pets each year through her startup.
RESEARCH INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Christine Finck, M.D., associate professor of Surgery & Pediatrics at the University of Connecticut Health Center and Connecticut Children’s Medical Center, and Susan J. Baserga, M.D., Ph.D, and professor of Molecular Biophysics & Biochemistry, Genetics and Therapeutic Radiology at Yale University.
Finck, of Hartford, is the surgeon-in-chief of Connecticut Children’s Medical Center and focuses on developing new techniques for treating neonatal lung and esophageal defects.
Baserga, of New Haven, is a pioneer in molecular biology researching the formation of ribosomes and their relationship with certain diseases and cancers.
ACADEMIC INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP (POSTSECONDARY)
Karen Wosczyna-Birch, executive director at Connecticut State Colleges & Universities’ College of Technology.
Wosczyna-Birch, of Farmington, is also executive director of the Regional Center for Next Generation Manufacturing. She has spearheaded work to create seamless technology pathway programs between high schools, community colleges, and universities.
COLLEGIAN INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Qin Lu, of the Department of Electrical & Computer Engineering at the University of Connecticut’s School of Engineering.
Lu, of Storrs, is a research assistant and doctoral candidate who has contributed to 18 papers in the past three years.
COMMUNITY INNOVATION AND LEADERSHIP
Nicole Gagnon, Mechanical Design Engineer at Pratt & Whitney.
Gagnon, of East Hartford, is an active member of the aerospace community through her involvement in the Society of Women Engineers, Women in Aviation International and Civil Air Patrol.
Interested in reading more about entrepreneurial innovation and leadership?
- Read the Innovation Destination Hartford interview with Untapped Potential Founder and President Candace Freedenberg: Startup Provides Mentoring, Contributes to Job Placement in Connecticut
- Read the Innovation Destination Hartford interview with Torigen Founder and CEO Ashley Kalinauskas: Connecticut Biotech Startup Creates Veterinary Cancer Treatment