Selecting the Next Generation of Innovators

April 15, 2013

Today, AAUW announced our fellowships and grants recipients for the 2013–14 academic year. Joining the ranks of more than 11,000 past awardees, this class will be the 125th in AAUW’s history. The 125th class may very well deliver award-winning authors, inventors, or Nobel Prize winners, and we look forward to supporting their careers.

We can’t celebrate the new class of fellows without acknowledging the support of the selection panelists who volunteer their time to review thousands of eligible applications. These remarkable women and men are devoted to supporting women in graduate education, and many panel members have connections with AAUW. This year, 36 percent of the selection panelists were AAUW fellowships and grants alumnae! Previous AAUW fellows like Anamarija Frankić, the first AAUW International Fellow from Croatia, and Abbie Griffin, an award-winning marketing professor, bring unique perspective to the selection process. Many past recipients serve as panelists to give back to AAUW, including some of this year’s first-time panelists: Margaret Conover, Shireen Lewis, Luana Maroja, Vanessa Perez, and Anita Superson.

We asked AAUW alumna and chair of the American Fellowships Natural Sciences Sub-Panel Casandra Rauser to offer some insight on what her fellowship meant to her and how she continues to give back to AAUW.

Q: How did you feel when you found out you received the 2004–05 fellowship?

A: I was ecstatic! I knew that it meant that I would have the time necessary to dedicate to finishing up my last experiments and writing the rest of my dissertation in the upcoming year. Prior to receiving the fellowship, I had worked as a teaching assistant to support myself nearly every other quarter of graduate school.

Q: What motivated you to serve as a panelist?

A: To give back, as cliché as that might sound. The fellowship was really important to me and I enjoy being a part of giving that feeling to other up-and-coming women in academia.

Q: How did your experience as a fellow inform you as a selection panelist?

A: It might seem funny, but I hold the applicants to the same level of excellence that I hold myself. My experience as a fellow, which included interactions with other AAUW fellows and local chapters, helped me understand the importance of actively mentoring other women and dedicating time to promoting the advancement of women. Being a woman in academia is not enough — one must be a woman AND actively be involved in activities that mentor women and promote women in academia. That is, simply being a woman does not necessarily make you a good role model.

Q: What have you learned from being a selection panelist?

A: That some women out there are doing interesting, creative, and unique activities to mentor and promote women. We need more women like them!

Q: Do you have any advice for our new class of fellows?

A: Continue to do what you are doing and take advantage of all that AAUW and other women’s organizations have to offer you regarding personal and professional development. Learn to negotiate your first salary and take advice on achieving work-life balance.

Q: 2013 marks the 125th anniversary of the AAUW Fellowships and Grants department. How do you feel, being a part of this history?

A: Incredible. This is really a remarkable organization to be affiliated with. Monetarily supporting women in academics is only one of many impressive items on the AAUW agenda.

Many thanks (and our congratulations!) to Casandra Rauser for taking the time to speak with us as she awaited the arrival of her new baby, who was born soon after we conducted this interview!

Find the full list of 2013–14 AAUW Fellowships and Grants. »