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Biology Professor McElhinney Selected for Million-Dollar Women in STEM Project

April 20, 2020

ALLIANCE, Ohio — Dr. Amy McElhinney, associate professor and chair of the Department of Biology at the University of Mount Union, was selected to participate in the National Science Foundation’s Advancing STEM Careers by Empowering Network Development (ASCEND) project from an esteemed national pool of candidates. 

The ASCEND project is a four-year endeavor beginning in fall 2020 where more than 80 female faculty members and administrators will create peer mentoring networks at institutions across the northwest, midwest and southeast United States. McElhinney and her constituents will attend monthly virtual meetings with a discipline-specific group with the goal of annual in-person meetings with members of the region. 

“When I heard about the ASCEND program application I was intrigued and excited by the prospect of being part of a network of faculty that could build one another up and work together to further our careers,” said McElhinney. 

Participants will be engaged in conversations and training opportunities to give them the tools they need to advance their careers. They will work together to address the institutional and systemic barriers that prevent women at the mid-career level from being promoted to full professor or obtaining positions in academic administration.   

“We are extremely fortunate to have Dr. McElhinney, as an emerging leader within the College of Natural and Health Sciences, be chosen for this opportunity,” said Dr. Sandra Madar, dean of the College of Natural and Health Sciences at Mount Union. “The insights and experiences Amy gains from ASCEND will undoubtedly be amplified as they are shared with our many female STEM+M colleagues here at Mount Union.” 

This project is funded through a $1 million grant and hopes to foster the advancement and retention of a diverse STEM faculty population. McElhinney’s participation in the ASCEND project will earn her the title of NSF ASCEND Faculty Fellow. 

“There are so many wonderful aspects of working at a small liberal arts institution, but I often feel somewhat like an island based on my research interests and the classes I teach,” said McElhinney. “An opportunity like the one afforded by ASCEND helps to diminish this ‘island mentality’ and create networks of faculty working in cooperation for career advancement. I look forward to getting started on this endeavor and hope that I am able to share what I learn with my colleagues at UMU.”  

Learn more about the ASCEND project by visiting the project website.