Magazine Names RMU Dean to "100 Inspiring Women in STEM"

Thursday, July 16, 2015

130920 RMU Trustees Kalevitch 0166

Pittsburgh, July 16, 2015 –  Maria Kalevitch, the dean of RMU's School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science, has been named to INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine's 100 Inspiring Women of STEM. The national honor recognizes Kalevitch's efforts both to attract women and girls to careers in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics and to build the ranks of RMU faculty in those fields.

In a magazine interview with Kalevitch and two other female STEM deans, one from California Polytechnic and one from New York Institute of Technology, Kalevitch discusses RMU's new Women's Leadership and Mentorship Program. "I think having mentorship and guidance along the way is really something that helps to sort of inoculate your self- confidence," Kalevitch says in the interview. "I think a network of mentors and people you can go to who can guide you is essential to building self-confidence."

Kalevitch, who earned her Ph.D. in Biology from the Lithuanian Academy of Sciences, has been a strong supporter of gender and racial diversity efforts at RMU since she arrived in 2002 as the only female science professor on the faculty. She was named dean in 2010, and is one of only 28 female deans among the 466 four-year schools of engineering in the United States approved by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET), according to statistics from the Beverly Willis Architecture Foundation. 

"The glass is always half full, and we always have a can-do attitude in SEMS to change things for the better," Kalevitch said of the school she heads. She said she is grateful for the national honor and recognition of her leadership, and attributes school successes to the dedication and hard work of SEMS faculty and staff.

She notes that while only 6 percent of the nation's top engineering schools have female deans, one-third of her faculty and staff are women, including several professors she has hired recently. Those include engineering professor Rika Carlsen, an expert in using microdevices to understand traumatic brain injury; mathematics professor Heather Hunt, who studies functional equations and group theory; and science professor Melissa Hillwig, whose focus is on genetics. Tamiko Youngblood, who founded RMU's first student chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers, was another inspiring female professor and has been deeply missed since her death in March from cancer at the age of 46, Kalevitch said.

Kalevitch points to Khulood Al Ali, a female biomedical engineering student who at graduation this spring won the Presidential Transformational Award, RMU's top honor, as an example of the school's successes with female students in STEM. Al Ali was one of four RMU students accepted in a new linkage program between RMU and Carnegie Mellon University, where she will be earning a master's degree in biomedical engineering.

Under Kalevitch's leadership, the RMU School of Engineering, Mathematics and Science has expanded outreach programs to local schools, including a focus on attracting more girls to STEM fields, with strong mentorship and advising components. Kalevitch also recently collaborated with RMU's Uzuri Think Thank to co-chair "Strength In Numbers," a three-day Downtown symposium that focused on increasing the number of African Americans in STEM careers.

Kalevitch's grandmother and father were both research professors at the Russian Academy of Sciences, and she credits growing up in a family where science and academics were regular topics of conversation around the dinner table for starting her on her career path. "When you are engaged in those conversations, you feel bold and empowered that you can do it too some day," she said.

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