AAAS Marion Milligan Mason Awards kick-start research for early-career women scientists

October 08, 2015

Four early-career women scientists received $50,000 grants to kick-start to their academic research careers 15 October in an awards ceremony at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS).

These grants are the first presentation of the Marion Milligan Mason Awards for Women in the Chemical Sciences, administered by AAAS with funding from the Marion Milligan Mason Fund.

"The recognition of these four accomplished scientists further enhances the prestige of this grant made possible through a generous $2.2 million bequest from Marion Milligan Mason, a long-time member of AAAS," said Rush Holt, AAAS chief executive officer and executive publisher of the Science family of journals.

Women scientists and researchers continue to face obstacles in advancing their careers, representing 30 percent of principal investigators on research grants, according to the National Institutes of Health. Too often, those that distinguish themselves don't advance at the same pace as men or receive the same recognition -- an effect AAAS president Geraldine Richmond calls, "the polycarbonate ceiling."

"I am delighted that such an award exists to celebrate women chemists at the early career stage. These women represent the extraordinary talent and creativity of our young women in chemistry in the U.S. and around the globe," Richmond said.

In a research environment that is increasingly cost-constrained, the grant funds will help these early-career researchers conduct initial experiments that will make them more competitive for federal and other grants. In addition to research funding, the awards program provides leadership development and mentoring opportunities.

"We received 190 proposals from 123 colleges and universities. This was four times as many proposals as we expected," said Yolanda George, AAAS deputy director and program director of education and human resources programs. "This large number of proposals points to the need for both funding and early national career recognition for women who are doing innovative research."

The 2015 Marion Milligan Mason Award for Women in the Chemical Sciences awardees are:

Alison Fout
Assistant Professor at University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Research Field: Inorganic Chemistry
Project Title: Nitrite Reduction in a Non-Heme System: Evidence for an Alternative Mechanism

Katherine Mackey
Assistant Professor at University of California Irvine
Research Field: Biogeochemistry
Project Title: Aerosol trace metal chemistry in a changing ocean

Kristin Parent
Assistant Professor at Michigan State University
Research Field: Cryo-electron microscopy
Project Title: Cryo-electron tomography of large and challenging specimens

Luisa Whittaker-Brooks
Assistant Professor at The University of Utah
Research Field: Inorganic/Materials Chemistry
Project Title: Environmentally-friendly and easily process able polymer-metal chalcogenides for thermoelectrics

Applications for the next Marion Milligan Mason awards will open on 16 November, 2015 with awards announced in January 2017. More information:

The awards ceremony takes place October 15 from 5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m. in the AAAS auditorium, 12th and H Streets, N.W., Washington, DC. Speakers include AAAS CEO Rush Holt, AAAS President Geraldine Richmond, University of Oregon and AAAS Board Member Laura Greene, National High Magnetic Field Laboratory.
The American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) is the world's largest general scientific society and publisher of the journal Science as well as Science Translational Medicine, Science Signaling, and a digital, open-access journal, Science Advances. AAAS was founded in 1848 and includes nearly 250 affiliated societies and academies of science, serving 10 million individuals. Science has the largest paid circulation of any peer-reviewed general science journal in the world. The non-profit AAAS is open to all and fulfills its mission to "advance science and serve society" through initiatives in science policy, international programs, science education, public engagement, and more. For the latest research news, log onto EurekAlert!,, the premier science-news Web site, a service of AAAS. See

American Association for the Advancement of Science

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