The College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering Celebrates Women in Science


Saranshu Singla presents her poster “Adhesion Under Humid Conditions: Lessons from Spider Silk”

It’s always a good day to celebrate women in Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering, but the second Tuesday of October is the perfect day. Why? It’s Ada Lovelace Day, a holiday founded by Suw Charman-Anderson in 2009 to honor women in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM).

Ada Lovelace was actually born Ada Gordon, but was known as the Countess of Lovelace. She was a writer, a mathematician, and a mother of three. Best known for her work on an invention called “The Analytical Engine,” she is widely considered to be the world’s first computer programmer. Although she died at age 37 in 1852, Ada is remembered for her passion and talent in mathematics and technology during a time when women were not encouraged to pursue those fields, and she remains an inspirational symbol for women in STEM fields to this day.

This year’s Ada Lovelace Day (ALD) landed on October 10th, and The University of Akron took that opportunity to celebrate our intelligent female students. A poster session was held in the Science & Technology Library in Auburn Science and Engineering Center that morning, during which 18 women presented posters on their graduate STEM research. Several presenters came from the College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering to show off their innovative research and encourage other young women to consider studying STEM.

Sixteen female students from the National Inventor’s Hall of Fame STEM High School were invited to see the presentations. It was a great opportunity for them to be exposed to what academic research is really like. They witnessed several interesting presentations, including “How Do We Determine the Color of Dinosaurs?” and “Benefits of Polymer Blends in Producing Thermal Conductive Products.”

The College of Polymer Science and Polymer Engineering was represented well there by several students from Dr. Ali Dhinojwala’s research group. Diane Smith, who presented on bacterial adhesion, said, “I love the idea of women being [incredible] in science.”

Also working with Dr. Dhinojwala was Saranshu Singla, who presented “Adhesion Under Humid Conditions: Lessons from Spider Silk” for her group.

Other presenters, like Jennifer Turner, attended the event to support representation of women in STEM. She said, “I like the idea of being a role model… it’s a positive feeling.”

The scores were close, but in the end Jennifer Peteya, Saranshu Singla, and Savannah Snyder won the day with their presentations. Women like Diane, Jennifer, Saranshu, Savannah, and Ada Lovelace are inspirational role models for young women who may one day want to work in STEM. Ada Lovelace Day was a huge success in promoting female representation, but until next ALD, let’s keep up the great work ladies!