National Science Foundation selects professor for fellowship

Megan Conrad, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Detroit MercyMegan Conrad, an assistant professor of Mechanical Engineering at Detroit Mercy, was recently selected as a National Science Foundation (NSF) ASCEND fellow.

The ASCEND project — Advancing STEM Careers by Empowering Network Development — supports the advancement of mid-career women faculty and administrators in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) disciplines.

Funded by a $1-million grant, ASCEND creates peer mentoring networks consisting of women in STEM fields from institutions across the Northwest, Midwest and Southeast.

Conrad aims to use resources from the ASCEND project to build on Detroit Mercy’s Assistive Technology program and Biomedical Engineering minor and is ready to help address barriers for women in STEM.

“I feel the program is particularly unique in its focus on mid-career support,” Conrad said. “Having recently completed the promotion and tenure process, this is an important time for me to re-evaluate my career goals; particularly how I can provide the most to my students, my peers and the University. I also hope I can contribute in a positive way to the ASCEND goal of establishing a more inclusive framework for STEM education.”

ASCEND focuses on two areas: providing faculty members with resources and tools to advance in their careers, while addressing institutional and systemic barriers that prevent mid-career level women from obtaining full professorships or positions in academic administration.

Over the next four years, ASCEND fellows will attend regular online meetings with their discipline-specific group and annual in-person meetings with their regional network. The NSF grant covers travel expenses with attending regional meetings.

“Dr. Conrad is a dynamic educator, mentor and researcher, who has already made a positive impact with female students and colleagues,” said Katherine Snyder ’89, ’93, dean of the College of Engineering & Science. “This award provides support to empower rising leaders like Dr. Conrad to continue the work needed to support of Detroit Mercy’s efforts in achieving inclusive excellence.”

Conrad’s professorship at Detroit Mercy is part of the Clare Boothe Luce Program, which is dedicated to increasing the participation of women in the sciences and engineering at every level of higher education.

Conrad was encouraged to apply for the ASCEND fellowship by Elizabeth Roberts-Kirchhoff, assistant dean in the College of Engineering & Science. Roberts-Kirchhoff has two roles with the ASCEND project: She is co-director of the project and a member on the Midwest steering committee.

“At Detroit Mercy, the high number of females in leadership roles in the College of Engineering & Science makes our college stand out,” Conrad said. “I am grateful for the encouragement from Dr. Roberts-Kirchhoff and our entire College of Engineering & Science leadership team who support so many opportunities for the entire faculty.”

Click here for more information about the ASCEND program.

Learn more about the National Science Foundation online.