Fairfield University's Women's Studies Program to co-host several fall events



Fairfield University's Women's Studies Program is co-hosting several engrossing speakers this fall and honoring a professor who is a role model for young women entering science fields.

Fairfield will welcome author/activist Ana-Maurine Lara, international filmmaker Montré Aza and Maria Pacheco, who has worked on business creation in Guatemala. In addition, the University will name Shelley Phelan, Ph.D., the Women's Studies Woman of the Year. Dr. Phelan, the Elizabeth DeCamp McInerny Professor of Health Sciences and a professor of biology, will be honored at a reception at 7 p.m., Tuesday, Oct. 11, at Alumni House on campus.

All events are free and open to the public.

"The Program in Women's Studies has always recognized the outstanding work of students, staff, faculty and friends of Fairfield University for advancing the understanding of women's issues on campus and off," said David Gudelunas, Ph.D., director of Women's Studies and associate professor of Communication. "Dr. Phelan is a wonderful example of how Fairfield faculty make a difference by doing so much more than their jobs call for. She has made a difference in countless young women's lives by showing them that being a great scientist has nothing to do with gender."

Image: Shelly PhelanDr. Phelan received her B.A. in biology from Wellesley College and her Ph.D. in cell and developmental biology from Harvard University. Since her arrival to Fairfield in 1999, she has established an active research laboratory in the area of cell biology, with a focus on the role of antioxidant proteins in cell biology and disease pathology. The National Institute for Health and Research Corporation have both given significant grant funding for her cutting-edge research.

Dr. Phelan has mentored nearly 50 undergraduates in her laboratory, and has published numerous articles, including several co-authored with Fairfield students. She has played a lead role in several initiatives for science students and helped create enriching experiences for young women. She is one of the co-founders of the WiSTEM (Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) residence floor, was actively engaged in the application for the new Clare Boothe Luce female professorship in Mechanical Engineering, for whom she now serves as mentor, and founded the BASE (Broadening Access for Science Education) summer science camp for high school girls from Bridgeport.

"I have found mentoring students, in my research lab, in my classes, and through programs like BASE camp and WiSTEM, to be one of the most rewarding and significant aspects of my faculty life at Fairfield," Phelan said.

In addition to the Woman of the Year reception, Fairfield will offer several events co-sponsored by Women's Studies, including three lectures.

On Thursday, Oct. 20, author/organizer Ana-Maurine Lara will discuss her debut novel, Erzulie's Skirt, at 7 p.m. in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room. Born in the Dominican Republic, Lara was raised in East Africa and Mount Vernon, N.Y. and received her B.A. from Harvard University. Her short stories and poetry have appeared in literary magazines, such as Tongues Magazine and Blithe House Quarterly. She has received awards from the Puffin Foundation, the Brooklyn Arts Council and PEN Northwest.

Lara is also co-author of bustingbinaries.com, a website designed to help build a community of resistance by addressing the binaries in our social justice movements.

On Thursday, Nov. 3, Fairfield welcomes Maria Pacheco, general manager and co-owner of Kiej de los Bosques, an organization dedicated to linking rural communities in Guatemala to markets as a way to generate prosperity in remote villages. Her talk, "One Woman's Vision Illuminates a Whole Nation," will begin at 4:30 p.m. in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room.

Kiej, in alliance with the Embassy of Norway, ICCO and Hivos, has worked with 50 rural groups - 1,300 people, mostly women - in the creation of their businesses and market access. Pacheco is also the co-designer of a national program for economic development, which was an IDB/World Bank loan of $60 million for Guatemala. She is one of the winners of the Women Leaders Around the World Award from Vital Voices Global Partnership, which is co-sponsoring her Fairfield appearance. Pacheco will showcase crafts made by Guatemalan artisans for sale after her lecture.

The semester's activities conclude on Tuesday, Nov. 15, with an appearance by filmmaker and scholar Montré Aza Missouri. "Reel Women Presents" will take place at 4 p.m. in the DiMenna-Nyselius Library Multimedia Room. Missouri will discuss her work as a fiction film director and a scholar of film. She will also present her research on African religious influences and themes in the films of Julie Dash, Kasi Lemmons and Darnell Martin. She will also discuss filming her own works in diverse locations including Nigeria, England, Ireland and the United States.

Several University departments and programs co-sponsored some of these events. They include American Studies, Black Studies, Core Writing Program, English Department, Environmental Studies, History Department, Latin American & Caribbean Studies, Living & Learning, MFA in Creative Writing Program, and Peace & Justice Studies.

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Posted on October 4, 2011

Vol. 44, No. 59