Judith Iriarte-Gross received the 2018 MTSU Career Achievement Award. The chemistry professor joins 14 faculty members who were honored by the MTSU Foundation.
In accepting the honor, Chemistry Professor Iriarte-Gross reflected on the critical stepping stones along her academic and professional journey.
She noted the importance that federal assistance programs such as TRiO and Upward Bound played in helping a young, first-generation college student from a single-parent home enter higher education and pursue the sciences with the encouragement of teachers and mentors.
"I tell my students today, listen to your teachers because they see something in you that you might not see," Iriarte-Gross told hundreds of her colleagues gathered at Thursday's Fall Faculty Meeting inside Tucker Theatre.
The annual presentation of the MTSU Foundation Awards, which recognize, celebrate and reward university faculty members for their accomplishments inside and outside the classroom, is a welcome tradition to help kickoff the fall semester.
The Career Achievement Award, considered the pinnacle of recognition for stellar MTSU professors, was presented along with awards for 14 other faculty members.
Iriarte-Gross, a professor of chemistry at MTSU since 1996, is nationally known for her advocacy for girls and women in the sciences. She's the director of the Women In STEM (WISTEM) Center at MTSU and the founder and director of Tennessee's first Expanding Your Horizons girls' STEM education workshop.
While also serving as faculty adviser for MTSU's Women In Science and Engineering student organization, Iriarte-Gross has been a principal or co-principal investigator on six National Science Foundation awards and received an NSF grant in 2007 to provide information for Tennessee girls, parents, teachers and guidance counselors about STEM education and careers and to support the growth of EYH conferences across Tennessee. More than 7,200 girls from Tennessee, as well as portions of Kentucky, Alabama and Georgia, have so far attended EYH events at MTSU, and EYH conferences.