NYU aims to increase women leaders in STEM academic departments, through new project funded by the National Science Foundation

5 professors' headshots featured in the article

Principal Investigators for the InterScience ADVANCE project, clockwise from top left: Elisa Riedo, Jelena Kovačević, Antonio Merlo, Jin Montclare, and Daniela Bucella

An NYU project funded by the National Science Foundation (NSF) promises to bolster the number of women faculty leaders in the university’s science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) academic departments, via a slate of new resources and processes.  

With a $1.25 million NSF grant, NYU will launch the InterScience ADVANCE project, a systemic approach to enhance the representation, career longevity, success and satisfaction of women STEM faculty at NYU. The project also seeks to amplify racial and sexual-orientation diversity among those faculty. 

ADVANCE’s efforts will involve STEM departments in both NYU Tandon School of Engineering and NYU Arts & Science and will be managed through the new InterScience Center.

“We’ve done important work at NYU Tandon already to develop a STEM faculty culture that embraces diversity, and ADVANCE continues building on that foundation,” said Elisa Riedo, ADVANCE’s Principal Investigator (PI) responsible for the project’s work. Riedo is the NYU Tandon Herman F. Mark professor of Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and serves as the School’s Director of Faculty Development. “We share NSF’s resolve to foster gender equity through a focus on the identification and elimination of organizational barriers that impede the full participation and advancement of diverse faculty in academic institutions.”

“Inclusivity and diversity are fundamental principles of NYU Tandon. I’m deeply committed to continually building and sustaining an environment in which the full potential of all faculty – particularly women and those from other traditionally underrepresented groups – is recognized and realized,” said Jelena Kovačević, Dean of NYU Tandon and William R. Berkley Professor, and a co-PI leading the project. “I am particularly pleased to collaborate with my counterparts in Arts & Science on the ADVANCE project’s critical work.  Creating and championing a STEM leadership pipeline that prioritizes gender, racial and sexual-orientation diversity creates better scholarship and richer educational opportunities for everyone.”

“The InterScience ADVANCE project will be a critical complement to the work that Arts & Science has put into inclusive excellence: from recruitment, to leadership development, to community building,” said Antonio Merlo, Anne and Joel Ehrenkranz Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Science and a co-PI on the project. “World-class scholarship and inspirational teaching and mentoring depend upon diverse and representative faculty and leaders, and ADVANCE will provide intentional focus, structure and training for building the inclusivity that benefits us all.”

Building upon NYU Tandon’s faculty mentoring program, 2Leap, ADVANCE will roll out a new faculty mentor program, called MentorCurrent, to STEM departments in both NYU Tandon and in NYU Arts & Science. MentorCurrent will feature a new custom-built mobile app to match NYU STEM faculty mentors and mentees, with the intent to eventually include faculty mentors from other universities.

Last year, NYU Tandon School of Engineering launched Project Elevate, a collaboration with Carnegie Mellon University and Johns Hopkins University to increase diversity among STEM faculty. Elevate is funded by the National Science Foundation Alliances for Graduate Education and the Professoriate (AGEP) program and runs its own mentorship and faculty development programs, with Riedo and Professor Yao Wang, jointly appointed in the electrical and computer engineering department and biomedical engineering department, as PIs. ADVANCE and Elevate will merge efforts in areas where goals overlap. 

The InterScience Center will be managed by Riedo, Nathalie Felciai, the newly appointed Associate Director of Faculty Development at NYU Tandon, and the project’s co-PIs Jin Montclare, professor of chemical and biomolecular engineering and Daniela Bucella, NYU Arts & Science associate chair and professor of chemistry. The center will rely on InterScience Faculty Fellows, one named in each STEM department, for ensuring communication and participation of all faculty.