Hayfaa Almudhaf (Committee Co-chair) played a key role in the initiation of the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) Arab American Frontiers Program, and in hosting the first conference in Kuwait in 2011. Before retiring, Ms. Almudhaf was a senior advisor at the Kuwait Institute for Scientific Research (KISR) since 2008. She has been actively involved in scientific research for 18 years in disciplines related to building and energy efficiency, resulting in more than 50 technical reports and scientific papers. She has also held the position of manager of the Building and Civil Engineering Department at KISR. Ms. Almudhaf was a member of the Founding Board of Directors for the Environment Public Authority (EPA) in Kuwait. She was the chairperson of the Higher Organizing Committee of the International Conferences on Women Leaders in Science, Technology and Engineering in 2007.
Sapna Cheryan (Committee Co-chair) is a professor of social psychology at the University of Washington. Her research investigates the role of cultural stereotypes in causing and perpetuating racial and gender disparities in U.S. society. In 2009, Dr. Cheryan received the National Science Foundation CAREER Award. In 2012–2013, she was a visiting scholar at the Russell Sage Foundation in New York City, and in 2016–2017, she was a Lenore Annenberg and Wallis Annenberg Fellow in Communication at Center for Advanced Study in the Behavioral Sciences (CASBS) at Stanford University. Dr. Cheryan currently serves on the Social Science Advisory
Board of the National Center of Women in Information Technology and on Mattel’s Global Advisory Council. She earned her Ph.D. in psychology from Stanford University in 2007.
Hala AlEssa is an assistant professor with the Department of Public Health Practice at Kuwait University. She is also a visiting scientist at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health in the Department of Nutrition. Dr. AlEssa is a member of the American Heart Association, Kuwait Heart Association, and the American Dietetic Association. She received her B.S. in dietetics and nutrition from Purdue University. She has a master’s degree in epidemiology from Harvard University, and a doctorate in public health nutrition from Harvard University.
Maria Charles is a professor of sociology, director of the Broom Center for Demography, and faculty affiliate in the Feminist Studies Department at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB). Her research explores gender inequalities around the world and the cultural and structural forces that sustain them in families, educational systems, and labor markets. She has published extensively on the phenomenon of gender segregation, most recently on the ideological and organizational factors that contribute to women’s underrepresentation in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields around the world. Dr. Charles is an elected member of the Sociological Research Association and the recipient of numerous research awards and grants for comparative work on gender segregation and gender belief systems. Before arriving at UCSB, she served on the sociology faculty at UC San Diego, and was a postdoctoral researcher at the Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in Zurich. She received a Ph.D. in sociology from Stanford University, and bachelor’s degrees from UCSB in environmental studies and political science.
Ameenah Farhan is currently the head of the Physics Department at Kuwait University. She serves as a senior advisor to the director general at the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Sciences (KFAS) and on the Board of Trustees of the Jaber Al-Ahmed Center for Molecular Imaging and Nuclear Medicine. She was also the vice dean for research and laboratories affairs in the Faculty of Sciences at Kuwait University. Her research interests include nuclear structure and astrophysics, nuclear data evaluation, and environmental radioactivity, where her contributions have led to several publications in these fields. She is also a member of the American Physical
Society and the American Association for the Advancement of Science. Since 2015, she has served as a jury member with L’Oreal-UNESCO for Women in Science–Middle East. Professor Farhan is passionate about, and is an advocate for, physics education, especially in its promotion and enhancement at the undergraduate and graduate levels.
Sonya Smith is a professor of mechanical engineering at Howard University, being the first tenured female faculty member and the first woman promoted to the highest academic rank of professor (full) in the Department of Mechanical Engineering at Howard University. Since joining the faculty in 1995, Dr. Smith has established an interdisciplinary theoretical and computational fluid dynamics research program. She has received research grants from NASA, the U.S. Department of Defense, and industry to conduct research on topics in atmospheric turbulence, aeroacoustics, vortex-wake aircraft encounters, simulation of wake vortex dynamics, and rotorcraft icing severity and detection. Dr. Smith also conducts research in computational neuroscience. For more than 4 years she has collaborated with the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD). She is an active member of the Association for Research in Otolaryngology (ARO) and has presented at each of its meetings since becoming a member. She is also a member of the Diversity in Acoustics Committee of the Acoustical Society of America (ASA). Dr. Smith received her Ph.D. in mechanical and aerospace engineering from the University of Virginia.
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