A celebration of women

On Wednesday, the University of Iowa held its annual Celebration of Excellence and Achievement Among Women. In addition to scholarships to deserving undergraduate and graduate women, for nearly thirty years they have also given achievement awards to a woman faculty and a woman staff member. In recent years, Dr. Peggy Nopoulous, Chair of the Department of Psychiatry, and Tricia Kroll, LMSW, Ryan White Program Manager in our HIV/AIDS Clinic, have been recognized at this event for their work. This year, we are proud to celebrate Dr. Loreen Herwaldt and her exceptional service to the institution and the many, many women who have been fortunate to work with and learn from her. Multiple letters of nomination voiced her worthiness. Her Division Director, Dr. Judy Streit, wrote of her clinical acumen and of her service to UI Health Care as hospital epidemiologist. Two of her mentees, Dr. Hsiu-Yen Chiang and Brianna Wright, wrote about her skills as an educator. Dr. Marin Schweizer covered her contributions to research, but also spoke of how Dr. Herwaldt went out of her way to include Dr. Schweizer in studies and in publications and how much it meant to her. It is not difficult to imagine that some years from now someone will write similarly on behalf of Dr. Schweizer, who is already paying that gift forward to her own mentees. We are links in a chain, and it is good to see each one recognized for her individual impact as well as for her contribution to our broader mission.

Our mission is large and extends beyond the borders of our campus, past Iowa’s and the United States’ borders. Few women in our department know this better than another woman professor in Infectious Diseases, Dr. Mary Wilson, recently reappointed to the Carver College of Medicine’s Professor of Global Health, and a winner herself of the College’s Distinguished Mentor Award just a couple years ago. Dr. Wilson is an accomplished researcher with multiple VA Merit Awards and several significant discoveries increasing our understanding in the diagnosis, prevention, and treatment of leishmaniasis, a disease with a significant global burden. Her example, whether directly or indirectly, lights a path forward for many other women researchers just assembling their first manuscripts and grant applications. Young researchers like Dr. Qian Shi in Endocrinology, who recently learned that she received a Career Development Award from the American Heart Association, an important initial step on the road to building her own independent lab. Dr. Kristine Yumul-Non just received a confirmation that her application for the AAMC Early Career Development Seminar was accepted, as were the applications of Drs. Adeyinka Taiwo and Amie Ogunsakin for the AAMC Minority Faculty Development Seminar. Congratulations!

About a year and a half ago, under the leadership of our Associate Chair for Diversity, Dr. Nicole Nisly, and our Vice Chair for Clinical Affairs, Dr. Kim Staffey, we revived the Women in Medicine group and have been meeting regularly. Presentations and conversations on topics like time management have been helpful, in terms of sharing experiences and learning from each other. I have been and continue to be grateful for these meetings, affording us a moment to recognize that, despite plenty of progress, health care in particular and academia in general remain challenging spaces for women.

And a final note of congratulations also to our rising Chief Residents for the 2023-24 academic year. I have enjoyed getting to know our current Chiefs and look forward to working closely with the quartet set to take office later this summer. The role serves as an important bridge between our residents and Education Leadership. They bring fresh ideas, recent experience as residents themselves, and creativity and enthusiasm, all of which keeps our training program one of the best in the country. I’m certain that this new foursome—Drs. Becker, Garza, Johnson, and Zhang—will keep that tradition alive when they assume the duties in July 2023.

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