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An MIT faculty member and an administrator are among 25 persons elected to the first group of Fellows of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS).
Dr. Vera Kistiakowsky, professor emeritus of physics, and Dr. Stephanie J. Bird, special assistant to the provost, were selected for having "demonstrated exemplary commitment to the achievement of equity for women in science and technology."
The new award of AWIS Fellow was created-on the 25th anniversary of the organization-to honor individuals involved in forwarding its goals through membership in AWIS, commitment to its mission, and support of women in science through scholarship, leadership, education, mentoring or service.
Both Dr. Kistiakowsky (1980-81) and Dr. Bird (1990-91) have served as president of AWIS, which has 5,000 members and more than 60 chapters across the country. t
Professor Kistiakowsky came to MIT as a staff member of the Laboratory for Nuclear Science in 1963, became a senior research scientist in the Department of Physics in 1969, and joined the faculty as a professor of physics in 1972. Her research has been in the fields of experimental nuclear physics, high-energy particle physics and currently, astrophysics.
Throughout her career she has been concerned with the situation of women in science and, more generally, in society as a whole. With two others she founded WISE (Women in Science and Engineering) in 1971, the same year she and 19 other eminent women physicists proposed that the American Physical Society establish a committee to investigate the status of women in physics.
She chaired this committee in the first year of its existence, during which it wrote a report presenting a statistical picture of the situation, analysis of the results and recommendations to the Society.
Her involvement has included interaction with various programs for women faculty and students at MIT and membership in a group which investigated the concerns of the secretarial and clerical staff at MIT. She also was a member of an ad hoc committee on women's athletics and another on women's admission.
Her other major non-scientific concern has been arms race issues, particularly the increase in the military budget and the accelerated growth in weapons systems.
Dr. Bird has served as principal investigator and project director of the AWIS Mentoring Project, funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, through which AWIS chapters developed and expanded a wide range of mentoring activities designed to encourage and support undergraduate and graduate students in careers in mathematics, science and technology. As a part of the Mentoring Project, AWIS recently published A Hand Up: Women Mentoring Women in Science and Mentoring Means Future Scientists.
At MIT, working in another area, Dr. Bird is developing educational programs that address ethical issues in science and the professional responsibilities of scientists. Her current research interests emphasize the ethical, legal and social policy implications of scientific research, especially in the area of neuroscience.
Dr. Bird is a laboratory-trained neuroscientist whose graduate work at Yale and postdoctoral fellowships at the Johns Hopkins University and Case Western Reserve University dealt with the effects of psychoactive substances on brain function.
In 1982, she was awarded a Mellon Fellowship by the Science, Technology, and Society Program at MIT to examine the ethical and social policy ramifications of the application of recombinant DNA technology to health care.