The theme for the University of Miami’s participation in the global tech conference eMerge Americas included a display recognizing Women in Technology, including IDSC Director of Innovation and Head of International Relations, Dr. Yelena Yesha. Here are all ten of the inspiring women profiled:
Sylvia Daunert, PharmD, MS, PhD, is the Lucille P. Markey Chair of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, and the Director of the Dr. John T. MacDonald Foundation Biomedical Nanotechnology Institute at the University of Miami. Dr. Daunert develops enabling nanotechnologies, including biosensors, molecular diagnostics, nanodrugs, and drug delivery platforms. She has more than 400 publications and patents to her credit
Prior to joining the University of Miami, Dr. Daunert was the Gill Eminent Professor of Chemistry and Professor of Pharmaceutical Sciences at the University of Kentucky. Dr. Daunert was also a Distinguished Professor of the College of Arts & Sciences and a University of Kentucky Research Professor. She is a Fulbright Scholar and an ELAM Fellow. Awards she has received include the American Association for Clinical Chemistry Van Slyke Research Award, the National Science Foundation (NSF) CAREER Award, the Cottrell-Scholars Award, the Lilly Analytical Faculty Award, the American Chemical Society A. F. Findeis Award, the NSF Special Creativity Award, the Bill Barfield Award from the Kentucky Water Resources Research Institute, the Albert D. and Elizabeth H. Kirwan Memorial Prize, the University of Miami Provost’s Award for Scholarly Activity, and the 2015 University of Miami Women’s Cancer Association Cancer Researcher of the Year Award.
Dr. Daunert is an elected Member of the Real Academia Nacional de Farmacia (RANT) of Spain, and an Elected Academic D’Honor, Reial Acadèmia de Farmàcia de Catalunya. Dr. Daunert serves as the Executive Editor of Analytical Biochemistry Journal, and is a Member of the Editorial Committee of the Annual Reviews in Analytical Chemistry Journal, as well as of the Editorial Advisory Boards of several other journals. She serves on the Scientific Advisory Boards of professional, governmental, as well as private institutions. Her research interests lie in Bionanotechnology. Specifically, her research group (Bionium) designs new molecular diagnostic tools and biosensors (based on genetically engineered proteins and cells) that find applications in the biomedical, environmental, and pharmaceutical fields. Additionally, the group focuses on the development of targeted and responsive drug delivery systems. Dr. Daunert’s work has been featured in over 250 publications, patents, and has been highlighted by the scientific media and popular press.
Norma Sue Kenyon, Ph.D. is the Vice Provost for Innovation at the University of Miami and the Chief Innovation Officer of the Miller School of Medicine. Under her leadership, the U Innovation team (including the Office of Technology Transfer and the Wallace H. Coulter Center for Translational Research) has successfully increased the number of licensing agreements and startups emanating from faculty innovations across the University’s 11 schools and colleges.
Working with the University resource centers The Launch Pad + the Launch Pad Med that provide mentoring for emerging student, alumni, and faculty entrepreneurs throughout the university community, Kenyon established the ‘Cane Angel Network to provide investment opportunities to all startups connected to the U. Together with community partners, Kenyon is also working to grow the Converge Miami innovation district (previously known as the UM Life Science and Technology Park), and, as part of the University’s Roadmap initiative, she is heading up planning for a hemispheric innovation hub at the U.
The Martin Kleiman Professor of Surgery, Microbiology & Immunology and Biomedical Engineering at the Diabetes Research Institute, Dr. Kenyon and her research team have focused on ways to transplant insulin producing islet cells, in both clinically relevant transplant models and in clinical studies, without the need for life-long anti-rejection drugs. Key accomplishments include development and sharing of methods for islet and islet/bone marrow transplantation, demonstration of insulin independence and long-term islet survival and incorporation of stem cells to enhance islet engraftment and survival. Dr. Kenyon has received research funding from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NAD), the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive and Kidney Diseases (NIH NIDDK), the Juvenile Diabetes Research Foundation International (JDRF), the Diabetes Research Institute Foundation, and several industry collaborators. She has served as a member of both the NIH National Advisory Allergy and Infectious Disease Council and the NIH Council of Councils. Kenyon was a scientific advisor to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA), spending half her time at the FDA for a year and has participated in several panels involving islet transplantation and stem cells.
Dr. Kenyon earned her undergraduate degree from Duke University and her Ph.D. from Virginia Commonwealth University, followed by post-doctoral positions at UCLA and the University of Miami. Subsequent to post-doctoral training, Kenyon was a Senior Scientist and Lab Head at Coulter Corporation, holding positions in both research and product development.
She earned her Master’s in Public Health from Rollins School of Public Health at Emory University in 1999, and joined the University of Miami in September of 2004, after completing her Ph.D. at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill’s Gillings School of Public Health. Soon after, Dr. Kobetz established Patnè en Aksyon (Partners in Action), Sylvester’s first-ever campus community partnership in “Little Haiti” (Miami’s largest Haitian settlement), and she remains committed to integrating diverse stakeholders into the translational research continuum.
Dr. Kobetz currently works as the Principal Investigator of multiple grants from the National Cancer Institute (NCI) and National Institute of Minority Health and Health Disparity (NIHMD) to support collaborative science with numerous South Florida communities. Collectively, they have garnered over $25 million dollars in extramural funding, and they serve as the University’s model for stakeholder engagement. She has also partnered with South Florida Firefighters—similarly characterized by excess cancer risk—and leads the Firefighter Cancer Initiative (FCI), a University-wide interdisciplinary strategy to address disparity from “bench” to “bedside” to “community.” Such efforts have been locally and nationally recognized, and serve as an important approach to develop new community-based models for cancer prevention and to achieve sustainable health and social change in underserved communities.
Niani Mays is a junior from Atlanta studying Biomedical Engineering with a focus on biomaterials and tissue engineering. She aspires to work in the medical field and has assisted with research in the University of Miami’s Physiomimetic Microsystems Laboratory, led by Assistant Professor Ashutosh Agarwal. Pictured here at the 2021 State of the U Address | watch the video, Panel starts @40:30, Niani speaks on the advantages of the hybrid formats that came out of the adaptations that the pandemic created, and her participation in JANUS.
Niani is the President of the University chapter of the National Society of Black Engineers (NSBE). During the Society’s national conventions, she received an internship opportunity with Edwards Lifesciences, a medical device company that focuses on innovations for structural heart disease. As a sophomore Niani served as Events Chair for the Engineering Student Council (ESC). When she’s not studying, Niani says she enjoys taking time to catch up the newest TV series, going for jogs around campus, and learning new recipes. She is very interested in the research being done on organ and tissue development that could remove the need for organ donors and long wait lists.
Diana Cecilia Milton
A high school internship at the University of Miami’s John P. Hussman Institute for Human Genomics first sparked Diana Cecilia Milton’s interest in a career in a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Math) field . After earning an undergraduate degree in Software Engineering, she now thrives in the Business of Innovation, Law, and Technology track at the University of Miami School of Law (JD ’23). As an intern under the Law in Technology Diversity Collaborative, she is focusing on the areas of data privacy, cybersecurity, and intellectual property.
Diana’s prior internships include MATRIX Labs, exploring human-computer interactions and AI, and L’Oréal USA, working at the intersection of technology and business. As President of the School of Law’s Technology Law Club, Diana helps students engage in the tech ecosystem while continuing to champion diversity in STEM.
Doctoral candidate Nadia Peyravian is fluent in English, Farsi (Persian) and Spanish. Nadia received her Bachelor of Science in General Biology from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill in 2016, where she was the Thomas J Watson Memorial Academic Scholarship recipient and on the Dean’s List. At Chapel Hill, Nadia was an intern in the Karen M. Gil Internship Program in Psychology and Neuroscience, and interned with the Teacch Autism Program.
Nadia then came to the University of Miami as a PhD candidate in the Miller School of Medicine. Nadia has published papers on The Inflammatory Aspect of Male and Female Pattern Hair Loss, The Paradox of HIV Blood–Brain Barrier Penetrance and Antiretroviral Drug Delivery Deficiencies, Opioid antagonists as potential therapeutics for ischemic stroke, and Cannabidiol as a Novel Therapeutic for Immune Modulation. Her mentor in the Department of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology is Dr. Sylvia Daunert.
As the current chair of the University of Miami’s Board of Trustees, Mrs. Silvers is only the third woman to lead the entity that is responsible for governing one of the top private research institutions in the nation. She succeeds Hilarie Bass, founder and president of the Bass Institute for Diversity and Inclusion and the former co-president of the international law firm Greenberg Traurig. “Following a year unlike any in our history, this passing of the gavel—from woman to woman—is a first at the U,” said President Julio Frenk. “Laurie Silvers, whose success and service have been fueled by creativity, commitment, and compassion, will offer sound stewardship as the University emerges from the challenges of the past 16 months into a promising future.” Mrs. Silvers has served on the Board of Trustees since 2003.
In 2011, Mrs. Silvers and her husband, Mitchell Rubenstein, established an endowed distinguished professorship and created two scholarships at the University of Miami School of Law. The Laurie Silvers and Mitchell Rubenstein Endowed Distinguished Professorship is currently held by A. Michael Froomkin. For their continued generosity, in 2015 the School of Law named a building in honor of their distinct professional accomplishments and their philanthropy.
Dr. Snyder earned a Master’s degree and a Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering from MIT, along with a Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Miami. “I went to school for a very long time to be a Mechanical Engineer, which I thought was going to be my career.” She changed her mind and pivoted to McKinsey as a way to learn “something about business without continuing to go to school . . . and I loved it!” On a key to her success, Dr. Snyder promotes risk taking. She says “If I look at [my] career trajectory and the moments where I felt like I really advanced, it all comes back to taking a risk that at the time felt really really uncomfortable. It was usually a mentor, or a sponsor, or someone in my environment that said ‘You should try this. You would be good at this.’ and I was crazy enough to trust them, and probably did things that, at the time, I wasn’t prepared for or I wasn’t fully qualified for, but I had enough trust in the people who were suggesting it that I took those risks. And that, ultimately, if I look at where I am today, without those risks, I wouldn’t be here.”
“I try really hard to stretch all of the folks that work for me, but especially the women, into things that they might not think they’re not ready for. Women in particular—I don’t like to generalize, but—tend to want to feel like they have all of the skills to do something before they try it. And men tend to take a different approach, so really stretching the women on my team to say ‘You’ve got this. You can do this.’ The point of doing the assignment is to build the skills, not to do the assignment once you’re fully ready.”
Duyen Thùy Võ
Duyen Thùy Võ is a fourth-year medical student at the the University of Miami, Miller School of Medicine. She holds a Bachelor’s degree in Chemistry, Biochemistry, and Molecular and Cellular Biology. Before earning a Master’s degree in Medical Science, she was a Chemistry teacher and worked as a scribe and a phlebotomist. She describes herself as a former lab rat, forever student and educator, and an Ultrasound enthusiast.
Duyen is a Member of the Gold Humanism Honor Society (GHHS), which recognizes medical students, residents, and faculty members who are compassionate in delivering care and who serve as role models. This summer, she beings her residency training in emergency medicine at Emory University. (Miller School of Medicine Match Day 2022 Highlights)
Dr. Yesha was the Founding Director of the Center for Accelerated Real Time Analytics (CARTA), an NSF-funded Industry/University Cooperative Research Center (I/UCRC) that aims to develop long-term partnerships among industry, academia, and government. CARTA partners with Rutgers University New Brunswick, North Carolina State University, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC), Tel Aviv University, and the University of Miami.
Dr. Yesha received her B.Sc. degrees in Computer Science and in Applied Mathematics from York University, Toronto, Canada, and her M.Sc. degree and Ph.D. degree in Computer Science from The Ohio State University She has published 11 books as author or editor, and more than 200 papers in prestigious refereed journals and refereed conference proceedings, and she has been awarded external funding in a total amount exceeding 45 million dollars. She is currently working with leading industrial companies and government agencies on new innovative technology in the areas of blockchains, cybersecurity, and big data analytics with applications to electronic commerce, climate change, and digital healthcare. Dr. Yesha is a fellow of the IBM Centre for Advanced Studies.
Forbes magazine highlighted Dr. Yesha’s accomplishments in technology in a two-part profile: Part I: Dr. Yelena Yesha: Meet The Tenacious Pioneer Pushing Innovation To Address Real World Problems and Part II: Dr. Yelena Yesha: Pushing Technology Boundaries To Solve The World’s Biggest Problems.
Watch a recap of the U at eMerge 2022