• UT Senate to give first woman of excellence award

    The Senate of College Councils named pharmacology professor Andrea Gore as the first recipient of the Edith Clarke Woman of Excellence Award on Monday.

    Gore was selected for her experience, research, mentorship program among her lab assistants and her involvement with the Faculty Council and Gender Equity Council according to  Zachary Long, human relations sophomore and Senate Faculty Affairs Committee co-chair. Gore also runs a mentorship program in her research lab.

    “While I don't discriminate against anyone who asks for mentorship, I think the fact that I am a woman makes me more approachable by female students and faculty,” Gore said. “I have also gone out of my way to mentor women in the sciences, because we need to work harder to overcome biases that women are not good at science and math. I hope that by showing them that women can be successful in the world of scientific research, they can gain the confidence to do this themselves.”

    The legislation creating the Edith Clarke award passed unanimously at the Feb. 11 General Assembly meeting.

    “The Senate of College Councils decided to create this award because we noticed a lack of recognition of extraordinary female faculty members,” said Elizabeth Roach, history junior and Senate Faculty Affairs Committee co-chair. “So many of our female faculty dedicate their time to the betterment of women not only in their specific field, but throughout the University and world.”

    The award is named for Edith Clarke, the first female electrical engineering professor in the country, who taught at UT.

    “We're looking for a female faculty member who has served as a trailblazer for women and who has played the role as a mentor to all people, specifically women, on this campus,” Long said. “[Clarke] was an inventor and she shattered a lot of expectations and is an amazing role model for women.”

    Bringing recognition to female professors also emphasizes the fact that men on staff outnumber women especially in science, technology, engineering and math Osterloh said.

    “By increasing the visibility of female faculty, female students (especially in STEM) will feel empowered,” Rachel Osterloh, Senate of College Councils president and philosophy and government senior said in an email. “We hope the establishment of this award sparks conversations about increasing the amount of female professors with tenure and the wage gap.”

  • American astronaut returns to earth after one-year mission in space

    After setting the record for the most consecutive days spent in space by an American, NASA astronaut Scott Kelly is home.

    Kelly landed in Kazakhstan from the International Space Station on Tuesday and made it to Ellington Field in Houston, Texas shortly after midnight on Wednesday morning. Kelly returned to Earth along with his crewmates, Russian cosmonauts Mikhail Kornienko and Sergey Volkov.

    The One-Year mission is a collaborative project between Russia and the United States. Now that the three astronauts have returned to earth, data analysis will continue and will be shared between the two countries. The mission is meant to embody the cost and risk-reduction benefits that international collaboration can have on space exploration and research, according to the NASA website.

    The One-Year mission was designed to test seven categories of research that tested the medical, physical and physiological changes to the human body in space over long periods of time. Serving as a stepping stone for missions NASA hopes to embark on in the future, data collection from the mission will help NASA plan a trip to Mars and will be shared between Russia and the United States as data analysis continues on Earth.

    Scott Kelly’s identical twin brother, Mark Kelly, who is a retired U.S. astronaut, remained on earth for the duration of the mission as part of the study. Scientists will use Mark and Scott to analyze the physical effects, such as radiation and visual impairment, and the mental effects, such as the impact of isolation, that long-term space travel has on the human body. The “One-Year mission” served as a preparation for a trip to Mars, which NASA hopes will occur by the 2030s.

    Crew members on the One-Year mission spent a full year in the International Space Station, twice as long as a typical U.S. mission. During their time in space, Scott Kelly celebrated two birthdays.

    “When I left here in February I was 50 and now I’m 52,” Scott Kelly, a veteran of three previous missions, told the crowd that greeted him at Ellington Field in Houston. “It’s great to be back in Texas, on U.S. soil. It’s an unbelievable feeling to be back here on Planet Earth, back in our great country and back with all my family and my friends.”

    More about Scott and Mark Kelly and the One-Year mission, including videos and tweets from Scott’s year in space, can be found here.