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Speakers (2010)

We had speakers representing many fields:

Chemical Engineering
Biological Engineering
Mechanical Engineering
CIvil Engineering 
Electrical Engineering
Computer Science
Physical Science

Chemical Engineering

Ying Liu (
: Assistant Professor of Chemical Engineering
Work: University of Illinois at Chicago
Education: B.E. Tsinghua University, China, Ph.D. Princeton University

Dr. Ying Liu is an assistant professor in the Department of Chemical Engineering and Department of Biopharmaceutical Sciences at University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC). Dr. Liu got her PhD degree at Princeton University. Prior to UIC, she was a postdoctoral researcher at University of Chicago for one year. She is a GEM-SET (Girls’ Electronic Mentoring in Science Engineering and Technology) mentor and a member of WISEST (Women in Science and Engineering System Transformation).
  The research interest of Dr. Liu’s group is in the interface among microfluidics, nanotechnologies, cell biology, and drug delivery.

Barbara Moriarty (
: Research Associate
Work: Nalco Company, Naperville, IL 
Education: B.S. Chemistry UNC Chapel Hill, Ph.D. Chemistry University of Minnesota

Dr. Moriarty has worked on the research and development of new technologies for water treatment, especially in cooling water systems for Nalco for more than 20 years. This work has involved working with many people in developing novel chemistries, putting a system together and evaluating this new technology in both lab simulation units and customer locations. This work has been published in numerous patents and other publications. She is an active member of the American Chemical Society, both locally and nationally.  She was part of the team that won a Presidential Green Chemistry award in 2008.  

Biological Engineering

Maureen Bricker (
: Research and Design Fellow 
Work: UOP
Education: BS Chemistry University of Alabama Birmingham, MS Chemistry Ohio State University, PhD Chemistry Ohio State University

Maureen Bricker says  that her work is different every day and year.  “Projects change, and the problems that need to be solved change.   We work on teams that means I may have 5 to 6 people working on various aspects of a project.  Some days my work is more of a team lead, which is co-ordination and finding out what new information people have” she said.  Ms. Bricker runs and designs her own experiments and does a lot of experimental planning as well as data analysis, data interpretation which feeds into the next round of experiments.  Some days, she puts all of this information into presentations which are shown to upper management.   She has also given talks at international conferences and to customers who buy UOP’s processes and catalysts.  Maureen Bricker is also on the industrial board of the University of Kansas/Center for Beneficial Catalysis

Pushpa Samuel: (
: Research and Development Engineer 
Work: ev3, Plymouth, MN 
Education: Biomedical Engineering, Washington University in St. Louis 

Ms. Samuel works in the peripheral vascular medical device industry. The environment is very fast-paced, and her team is scheduled to launch their fifth product into the market within the last four years. The product portfolio has been comprised primarily of balloon angioplasty catheters and stents. This year, the focus is on treatment of atherosclerosis below the knee via plaque excision. Her primary role is prototyping concepts, developing a viable design, and verifying that the device meets the intended user needs. She has also mentored high school students involved in the FIRST (For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology) Robotics program. The team won second place at the national competition in Minneapolis and received the Creative Design Award. The students nominated her as the most influential mentor and have continued their mentorship through college. In her free time, she is part of the ev3 co-ed volleyball team. 

Mechanical Engineering
Suzanne Smyth ( 
: Staff Consultant 
Work: Packer Engineering, Naperville, IL
Education: Mechanical Engineering, B.S. Michigan State University, M.S. and Ph.D. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Dr. Smyth has worked as a consultant in the Fire Science & Explosions Analysis group of Packer Engineering for 2 years. 
 Prior to working there she performed research in the Combustion Physics Laboratory at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign for 5 years while studying towards her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Mechanical Engineering.  At Packer Engineering she investigates the cause of fires, explosions, and other thermal incidents for insurance companies, law firms, and directly for industry.  In some cases she may act as an expert witness in court.  Her role includes working in the office, doing experiments in the lab, running simulations on the computer, researching in the library, and going out on on-scene investigations all over the country (and occasionally out of it).  Dr. Smyth uses plenty of math, physics, and chemistry to discover the cause of incidents and to prevent them from happening again.  At the University of Illinois she was involved in the Biodiesel Initiative section of the Engineers Without Borders group and is now beginning her involvement with the Chicago Chapter.  In her free time, she co-leaders a Cadette Girl Scout troop and plays recreational soccer.

Harsharan Bains (
Profession: Lead Design Safety & Environmental Engineer 
Work: Chicago Bridge & Iron, Plainfield, IL 
Education: Civil & Chemical Engineering, Imperial College

Ms. Bains has worked in the nuclear, railways, offshore and LNG industries for the past 11 years. She has lived in three continents, is fluent in three languages, and has worked with people from countless cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities. She has been working for CB&I (Chicago Bridge & Iron) for over 5 years, both in London and in Plainfield, IL. Currently, she is the Lead Design Safety and Environmental Engineer, which involves working closely with all engineering disciplines, from design to construction. Her role involves reviewing engineering drawings, conducting safety studies, reviewing location of facility and equipment to ensure that the plant is designed as safe as reasonable practicable. She is also a member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), and started the local SWE network in Area 630 four years ago, as well as the recent Babies & Toddlers group. She is past Treasurer and Newsletter editor for Chicago Regionals Section of SWE. At CB&I, she helped to start the basketball club as well as the soccer club, was a Talent Team member and gets involved with enthusiasm in many CB&I initiative

Electrical Engineering

Christina Magerkurth (

ProfessionClimate Change, Sustainability, and Enviornmental Engineering Consultant
WorkMagerkurth Associates, Inc.
EducationB.S. Engineering & Applied Science (Environmental Engineering) California Institute of Technology,M. Eng. Environmental Management, Cornell University

Ms. Magerkurth has been involved in the environmental engineering field for over 11 years. In 2009, she founded Magerkurth Associates, Inc., a consulting company focused on climate change and sustainability services such as entity and project greenhouse gas emissions inventory development, strategy development, and public reporting. Ms. Magerkurth also has significant experience in the validation and verification of entity inventories and carbon offset projects. In addition, she has extensive experience in developing, implementing and auditing ISO 14001 EMS systems, and providing regulatory support, site investigation and remediation, and expert testimony. Her work has allowed her to become knowledgeable about a variety of industries, including landfills, power generation corporations, refineries, chemical manufacturers, airports, foundries and paper manufacturers. 
Eileen Gelblat (
: Telecommunications 
Work: Alcatel-Lucent Lisle, IL 
Education: B.S. Physics Cornell University, Masters Electrical Engineering Purdue University

Eileen Gelblat has been working in the field of telecommunications for the past 30 years.  After completing a physics degree at Cornell University in NY, she was recruited by Bell Laboratories in Naperville. She went on to get a Masters in Electrical Engineering from Purdue, and started doing hardware design work on telephone switching systems.  As Bell Laboratories changed to AT&T, Lucent, and then Alcatel-Lucent, Eileen has worked on the different parts of the network that has allowed the number and types of cell phone calls to grow and to support all those high bandwidth applications that you have come to know and love. Her job assignments have ranged from design of the hardware, to writing software for testing, to leading technical teams, to project management. She has also played a large role in recruiting and retaining women in the workplace, and has been an active member of the women networking groups that first started when the company was Bell Laboratories. She currently lives in Naperville with her husband and son (who will be attending Naperville North this fall)

Susan Gaugush (
: Product Service Engineer 
Work: Caterpillar Inc., Aurora, IL 
Education: Electrical Engineering, Valparaiso University, Indiana 

Ms. Gaugush has worked at Caterpillar for over 14 years. She has held various positions including machine software development, machine control and information systems, and product support. Her current role is worldwide support of customers and dealers for Caterpillar's largest front-end loaders, with load capacities up to 38 tons. Her job responsibilities include answering dealer questions about machine service and helping to develop solutions for product problems, and she has traveled to mines and quarries on 6 continents over the past 3 years. She has just accepted a promotion/transfer to the Toronto, Canada area to support mining customers and dealers in product problem management and dealer service development. In her free time, Susan enjoys playing ice hockey and softball, and she recently earned her black belt in Tae Kwon Do

Computer Science

Udita Singh (
: IT Program Management 
Work: Blue CrossBlue Shield Assocaition, IL 
Education: Masters in Computer Science, Illinois Institute of Technology, IL, Masters in Political Science and History, Kanpur University, India 

Mrs. Singh has worked in the telecom and healthcare industries for the past 15 years while living on 2 continents, and working with people from countless cultures, backgrounds and ethnicities. I have been working for Blue Cross Blue Shield Association. Currently, she is responsible for multi-million dollar IT product development projects where she work closely with a large team of engineers from many disciplines of software design including architecture, design, development and quality assurance. Prior to BCBS, she worked with Lucent as a C-programmer for telecommunication related products. Mrs. Singh is a member of the Project Management Institute (PMI) and has been involved in diversity councils both at Lucent and BCBSA raising awareness for diverse cultures.  Away from work, Mrs. Singh loves hanging out with her friends, listening to music, gardening, reading books spending time with her family which consists of her husband and two children, a 17-yr old boy and 14-yr old girl.

Mandy Rominsky (
: Postdoctoral research assistant 
Work: Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory 
Education: Ph.D. University of Oklahoma 

Dr. Rominsky received her Ph.D from the University of Oklahoma in High Energy Physics in 2009. Since then, she has been working at Fermilab as a postdoctoral researcher, studying physics beyond the standard model and working on R&D for tracking detectors. Her work involves writing programs to study high energy physics data, working with collaborators around the world on physics analysis and working on testing hardware designs for upcoming experiments. She enjoys giving tours of the lab and talking with the public about her field.

Physical Sciences

Susan Kidwell (
: Professor & basic researcher, sedimentary geology & applied ecology
Work: Geophysical Sciences, University of Chicago, Chicago IL, since 1985 
Education: Geology & Geophysics, Yale University 

Prof. Kidwell’s research is at the interface of the physical and biological sciences, focusing on the hydrodynamic, geochemical, and biological factors that control the fossilization of animals and the implications for the interpretation of earth history. Her early work was supported in part by oil companies because of the insights provided into the nature of hydrocarbon reservoirs, ancient environmental conditions, and rock ages. She has recently shifted her focus to very young sediments (from the last few centuries to millennia) and begun collaborations with biologists and environmental managers in order to develop new methods to detect human impacts in coastal ecosystems, especially the effects of nutrient runoff (from urban areas & agriculture) and bottom-trawling for fin- and shellfish. Her research takes her around the world, commonly far off-road or out to sea. She teaches geological field methods to undergraduates, and has advised many PhD students – about half of them women – who have gone on to professional jobs in universities, museums, agencies such as the EPA and NOAA, and oil companies. At the U of C, she chairs the Committee for Women in the Physical Sciences, an outgrowth of working groups on mentoring young professionals and the quality of student experience.

Kirsten Florence Laurin-Kovitz (

Profession: Mechanical Engineer/Group Leader International Engagement
Work: Argonne National Laboratory, US Department of Energy
Education: B.S. General Engineering, University of Illinois, and M.S. and Ph.D. Mechanical Engineering, Northwestern University.

Dr. Laurin-Kovitz is a Mechanical Engineer in the National Security and Nonproliferation Department of the Nuclear Engineering Division at Argonne National Laboratory, a US Department of Energy Office of Science Laboratory. She is Group Leader for the International Engagement Group which provides training on nonproliferation and export control of WMD-related technologies through cooperative programs. Her work includes project management and coordination of international programs and technical review of proposed exports of equipment for proliferation concerns. Previously she conducted software design and development including design and application of numerical methods for nuclear applications. Her primary areas of responsibility include Ukraine, the Caucasus (Armenia, Azerbaijan, and Georgia), and S. America (Argentina and Brazil). Recently, Dr. Laurin-Kovitz has used her experience and expertise to train US export control enforcement personnel on strategic WMD-related commodities. Dr. Laurin-Kovitz has more than fifteen years experience in nuclear nonproliferation and nuclear reactor analysis. In addition, Dr. Laurin-Kovitz has served as Argonne’s Women in Science and Technology (WIST) Program Initiator, leading activities related to student outreach including several conferences for middle school and high school girls and staff professional development, and promoting equity within Argonne.

Kristen Pappacena (
: Post Doctoral Researcher 
Work: Argonne National Laboratory, Argonne, IL 
Education: Materials Science and Engineering, Northwestern University 

Ms Pappacena has worked in the Energy Systems Division at Argonne National Laboratory for almost a year. Her main projects include optimizing materials for an oxygen sensor package and investigating efficacy of various coatings to adhere to and protect machine parts from contact and wear. Before that, she finished her PhD in Materials Science and Engineering in 2008 at Northwestern University where she studied thermal properties of porous ceramics derived from wood precursors. Throughout her time at Northwestern she served as the president of Material Advantage, the student materials society, and organized a variety of educational activities for the graduate students, including a series of career path panel discussions with speakers utilizing their science PhDs in a variety of occupations.