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Diverse, Inspirational Speakers for Virtual Women in STEAM Conference

By Meaghan Goepferich Posted on July 21, 2020

August 1 digital event will be available at no cost to those who register in advance

Diverse, Inspirational Speakers for Virtual Women in STEAM Conference

Two intellectuals prominent in mathematics and science will be the featured speakers on Saturday, August 1, during the Virtual Women in STEAM conference organized by Saint Leo University, based in Pasco County. The conference is being presented at no cost to those who register in advance at https://www.saintleo.edu/women-in-steam-conference. STEAM denotes the fields of science, technology, engineering, arts, and mathematics, and expands the subjects accounted for in the acronym STEM—science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Talithia Williams, PhD, a statistician, college professor, author, and cohost of the 2018 NOVA Wonders documentary television series, is the keynote morning speaker. She loves to explain mathematical concepts to broad audiences in accessible ways, and to encourage more students to explore opportunities in STEM. She has delivered speeches nationally about how everyone can better understand their personal health through tracking data. Williams earned her doctorate in statistics from Rice University in Houston and is currently an associate dean at Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California, one of the nation’s leading undergraduate colleges for STEM fields. She was the first African-American woman to be granted tenure at the college. Williams will speak at 10 a.m., Eastern Time.

The afternoon’s featured speaker is a real-life rocket scientist, Aprille Ericsson, PhD, from the NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in Maryland. Ericsson made academic and technological history when she earned her doctorate in mechanical engineering from Howard University in Washington, DC. She was the first African-American female to earn the credential at Howard, and the first African-American female at the Goddard Space Flight center to attain a PhD in engineering. She has developed and employed programs and processes used in satellite missions and now works for the center’s Instrument Systems and Technology Division. She has also spoken about her own trajectory from growing up in Brooklyn to working as an aerospace engineer, and about the need for diversity in STEM fields. Ericsson will speak at 4 p.m., Eastern Time, helping to round out a day of inspiration.

During other sessions of the day, Saint Leo has scheduled speakers from among its alumni base and from female faculty who teach life sciences, social sciences, and who educate future math and science teachers for the K-12 public school system. The conference will open at 8:45 a.m. (ET) with a welcome from the university’s vice president of academic affairs, Mary T. Spoto, PhD.

The Virtual Women in STEAM Conference is sponsored by the university’s Center for Alternative Pathway Programs, which offers micro-credential courses that focus on specific skills or niche areas of study to help individuals advance in their careers and fields of interest. For more information on the conference or about the Center for Alternative Pathway Programs, contact [email protected].

About Saint Leo University

Saint Leo University is one of the largest Catholic universities in the nation, offering nearly 60 undergraduate and graduate-level degree programs to more than 19,500 students each year. Founded in 1889 by Benedictine monks, the private, nonprofit university is known for providing a values-based education to learners of all backgrounds and ages in the liberal arts tradition. Saint Leo is regionally accredited and offers a residential campus in the Tampa Bay region of Florida, 15 education centers in five states, and an online program for students anywhere. The university is home to more than 95,000 alumni. Learn more at saintleo.edu.

Media contact: Jo-Ann Johnston, Saint Leo University academic communications manager, at [email protected] or at (352) 467-0843 (cell & text).

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