PITTSBURGH (March 22, 2019) — Ipsita Banerjee, associate
professor of chemical and petroleum engineering at the University of Pittsburgh
Swanson School of Engineering, is the recipient of the School’s 2019 Faculty
“It would be an understatement to say that Ipsita earnestly
strives each year to improve the academic environment fostering the success of
under-represented minority students at the graduate, undergraduate and high
school levels,” says Steven Little, department chair of Chemical and Petroleum
Engineering at the Swanson School.
The Faculty Diversity Award Committee cited Dr. Banerjee’s
Beyond her work with organizations on campus, Dr. Banerjee
devotes time and effort into programs like the Carnegie Science Center’s
CanTEEN Career Exploration Program, sharing her experience with middle school
girls and encouraging them to pursue an education in STEM. She has also been involved with the Women
Student Networking conference, AlChE Women’s Initiatives Committee, and in
panels for Women in Science and Medicine organized by UPMC.
In addition to the award, Dr. Banerjee will receive a $2,000
grant and induction into the Office of Diversity’s Champions for Diversity
Dr. Banerjee’s mentees endorsed her nomination for this
award because of her thoughtful support, encouragement and motivation. Her own
professional success, they noted, makes her a valuable role model for other
women and under-represented minorities in STEM.
“Being a Hispanic woman in the field of science and
technology, it is sometimes hard to find examples of other women and/or
minorities who have gone through the process of pursuing a career in academia
with as much success as Dr. Banerjee has,” says Dr. Maria Jaramillo, a senior
scientist at IVIVA Medical and the first graduate student to work with Dr.
Banerjee at Pitt. She adds that Dr. Banerjee’s help and encouragement to
network, collaborate with other scientists at Pitt and beyond, and present her
research are among the things that have been most influential to her career.
“These opportunities were instrumental for the continuance of my career in
academia, and even today, several years after finishing my PhD under her
supervision, Dr. Banerjee still provides great support.”
“Dr. Banerjee embodies the phrase ‘women empowering women,’”
says Brittany Givens Rassoolkhani, a former PITT EXCEL Summer Research Intern
who is now a PhD candidate at the University of Iowa. “Throughout my time
working with her, it was apparent that she was both brilliant and dedicated.
Most importantly, I was encouraged to also be dedicated and brilliant in my own
work via the way she mentored myself and other students in the laboratory.”
Not only did Dr. Banerjee’s mentorship inspire her students
to conduct their own research and find their professional paths, but it also
inspired them to be better mentors themselves. Brittany Givens Rassolkhani notes
that now she is also a mentor and never forgot the lessons Dr. Banerjee taught.
“Throughout this process, Dr. Banerjee has been instrumental
in reminding me how important it is as a woman, particularly a woman of color,
in the sciences and engineering to be cultivated in an environment that
encourages women to be equal, if not better than, their male counterparts,” she
says. “Dr. Banerjee never let my goals be big and scary, as I so often saw
them; instead, in her eyes our goals as researchers were always achievable. I
hope that when I become a professor and start my own laboratory, I am able to
provide even half as much support to and faith in my students as I witnessed
from Dr. Banerjee.”
Contact: Maggie Pavlick