Jenna Davidson recently won an American Fellowship from the American Association of University Women (AAUW), a group aiming to empower women and girls through research, scholarship, and community projects.
A fifth-year doctoral student in the Department of Biological Sciences, Davidson’s work addresses vector epidemiology, striving to reduce mosquito-borne disease transmission by marshaling bionomics to inform intervention strategies.
Davidson says that the award from AAUW will allow her to finish her dissertation and mentor young female science professionals with greater flexibility. She noted that it will also enhance her professional development and amplify her ability to disseminate her research through presentations at international conferences.
Ultimately, she hopes the visibility from the fellowship will enable her to collaborate with national and international health programs addressing widespread vector-borne disease epidemics.
Davidson is no stranger to awards and accolades, having previously participated in Notre Dame's Ethical Leaders in STEM (EL-STEM) program, and won funding from the Fulbright U.S. Student Program, the United States Agency for International Development (USAID), and the Notre Dame Initiative for Global Development to pursue her research topic in Indonesia, where human suffering from vector-borne diseases is rampant but data remains scarce.
To win these awards that are so crucial to her mission, she has worked multiple times with the Office of Grants and Fellowships to hone her grant-writing skills and communicate the importance of her research to competitive funding organizations.
“We’re so proud of Jenna’s accomplishments, and grateful to have supported her efforts,” said Dr. Samantha Lee, program director of the Office of Grants and Fellowships. “Jenna’s projects will have a wide impact, so it’s very meaningful for our team to help launch her onto platforms that will amplify her communication and reach.”
Dr. Lee’s previous experience with AAUW includes her involvement with the Notre Dame Graduate School’s Women Leaders in STEM (WL-STEM) program, which is funded by AAUW. WL-STEM facilitates collaboration among Notre Dame’s female undergraduates, graduate students, postdoctoral scholars, and faculty in STEM with the goal of promoting mentorship, professional development, and outreach on campus.
AAUW’s support for WL-STEM aligns with previous AAUW initiatives, which include awarding more than $115 million to over 13,000 women from more than 145 counties since 1888. For the 2018-2019 academic year alone, AAUW has already given a total of $3.9 million to 250 scholars, research projects, and programs promoting female empowerment in education.
“I’m honored to be a part of an organization whose main goal is to empower, support, and improve the lives of women and their families,” Davidson said. “I’ve been given this amazing opportunity by an organization that is passionate about women in STEM and I’m going to run with that and bring as many women along with me as I can.”