Hooray for Women in STEM! Meet Lydia Villa-Komaroff, 2013 Woman of Distinction
Whether or not you are a woman in science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM), you will be wowed by Lydia Villa-Komaroff! Although I am not a “STEMer,” I am amazed at the major accomplishments Villa-Komaroff has made as a scientist despite the adversities she faced. “Traditionally, Hispanic women are not socialized to believe they can earn a living, much less be a scientist,” she says. She has clearly gone against such traditions by becoming the chief scientific officer and board member at Cytonome/ST LLC, a company that develops and builds cell processing systems.
Interested in science from a young age, Villa-Komaroff went on to receive her bachelor’s degree from Goucher College and her doctorate in cell biology from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology — an amazing feat at the time since by 1976 only 19.5 percent of doctorates in biological and agricultural sciences were earned by women. She pursued her love for science as a postdoctoral fellow in Nobel Prize-winning chemist Walker Gilbert’s lab, and it was there that Villa-Komaroff co-authored the first synthesis of mammalian insulin in bacterial cells.
Villa-Komaroff is an inspiration for women everywhere. As a frequently published researcher and the third Mexican-American woman to earn a doctorate in the United States, Villa-Komaroff exemplifies the dream that with hard work and passion, anything is possible. Furthermore, she has excelled in a field where women — and particularly women of color — are underrepresented. As a woman of color I am always encouraged to see other successful women of color who challenge the typical stereotypes placed upon us. Villa-Komaroff’s accomplishments definitely earn a huge hooray for women in STEM!
Villa-Komaroff will be honored at this year’s National Conference for College Women Student Leaders as one of our 2013 Women of Distinction. It is our pleasure to acknowledge her and honor her achievements, which have benefited so many others over the years. What do you want to ask Lydia Villa-Komaroff about her path to leadership? Share with us in the comments.
This post was written by AAUW Leadership Programs Intern Nzinga Shury.