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School’s Assistant Dean, Biology Professor Recognized for Inspiring Women in STEM

Dr. Kelli Palmer

Dr. Kelli Palmer

Two UT Dallas educators have been chosen by INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine to receive the publication’s Inspiring Women in STEM Award.

Dr. Bernine Khan, assistant dean in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, and Dr. Kelli Palmer, assistant professor of biological sciences, are two of 100 award winners nationwide recognized in the September issue of the publication.

“Our sincerest congratulations to Drs. Khan and Palmer and The University of Texas at Dallas on receiving this prestigious national honor,” said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity.

“Both are truly an inspiration to all of us who are working so diligently to make a difference in the lives of all women and other underrepresented individuals.”

The award is presented to women whose work and achievements not only encourage others in their individual STEM fields, but also inspire a new generation of young women to consider careers in science, technology, engineering and math.

Dr. Bernine Khan

Dr. Bernine Khan

Dr. Juan González, professor of biological sciences and associate dean for graduate studies in the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics, nominated Palmer, who joined UT Dallas in 2012.

“Dr. Palmer is rapidly becoming a star in the field of bacterial drug resistance, a field that could dramatically impact humankind,” he said. “Moreover, she has been at the forefront of our institution’s efforts to recruit and train women and underrepresented minorities in the sciences. She is very active in recruiting new female faculty members to UT Dallas, and understands that we need these role models to continue expanding the representation of women in the STEM fields.”

Khan, an environmental engineer, has worked with partners at Girls Inc. of Metropolitan Dallas and local colleges, high schools and businesses to organize the SMART and EUREKA! summer camps, where middle school girls gain exposure to STEM careers through interaction with female scientists and engineers.

Both are truly an inspiration to all of us who are working so diligently to make a difference in the lives of all women and other underrepresented individuals.

Lenore Pearlstein,
publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity

Khan also organized events at the Dallas Arboretum that involved more than 70 UT Dallas faculty and students presenting dozens of hands-on science activities to children and parents. In 2012, she received the President’s Volunteer Service Award for outstanding community service.

“Dr. Khan is a longtime advocate for STEM education and science literacy among underserved populations,” said Dr. Bruce Novak, Distinguished Chair and dean of the School of Natural Sciences and Mathematics. “She has been instrumental in organizing outreach events that introduce young women to science and engineering, as well as to college life and potential careers in STEM fields.

“Our faculty and staff members have tremendous energy and enthusiasm for reaching out to and supporting UT Dallas students and young people in the community,” Novak said. “As role models, mentors and successful STEM professionals, Dr. Khan and Dr. Palmer lead by example, and I am extremely proud of their efforts to inspire others.”

Valerie Price

Science Mentors GenerateNext Generation of Mentors

Graduate student Valerie Price and her mentor, Dr. Kelli Palmer, exemplify how excellence fosters excellence on the UT Dallas campus.

Price BS’11, MS’14, a doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences, recently received the Jess Hay Chancellor’s Graduate Student Research Fellowship, established by and named for the former University of Texas System regent. The $10,000 award is given each year to two students from two UT System institutions.

Price’s research focuses on understanding how bacteria acquire antibiotic resistance genes from one another, with the long-term goal of developing novel strategies to remove antibiotic-resistant bacteria from hospital settings. She has published multiple articles in peer-reviewed journals and has presented her research at national and international scientific conferences.

Price, who has been conducting research at UT Dallas since she was an undergraduate, credits her success as a scientist in part to Palmer, an assistant professor of biological sciences.

“Once I heard Kelli talk about her research, I was hooked, and I knew I wanted to work for her,” Price said. “She is fantastic. She encourages, teaches and guides you and makes you feel like you are doing the work for yourself. I also enjoy that teaching aspect with the students that I mentor in the lab.”

Palmer said Price stands out as a leader in the lab, not only for her talent as a scientist, but also for how she mentors and encourages fellow graduate students and undergraduates.

One of Price’s former undergraduate mentees is Ardalan Sharifi, who was an American Society for Microbiology Undergraduate Research Fellow and is now a medical student at the University of Texas Medical Branch at Galveston.

“Valerie drives the ship on her research project and is constantly thinking of ways to refine and add depth to her ideas and experimental designs,” Palmer said. “Her research is highly relevant to public health, and she is likely to make significant discoveries that result in improved clinical care. Plus, she is an excellent mentor to her trainees.”

Media Contact: The Office of Media Relations, UT Dallas, (972) 883-2155, [email protected].

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