Susan Bryant, Calit2 Governing Board Member, Honored by the Association for Women in Science

By Anna Lynn Spitzer

02.22.2004 - Susan Bryant, a leading international researcher in limb regeneration, and a member of the Calit2 Governing Board, has been elected a 2005 Association for Women in Science fellow, the highest recognition AWIS bestows on individuals. Bryant has advocated equity and opportunity for women in science for more than 30 years and, as dean of the UC Irvine School of Biological Sciences, continues to work steadfastly for their full participation in the scientific enterprise.

Susan Bryant
Susan Bryant

Bryant was recognized as an AWIS fellow during a reception held Feb. 20 in Washington , D.C. , during the 2005 annual meeting of the American Association for the Advancement of Science. AWIS Fellows are selected on the basis of their significant contributions to promote women in science through scholarship, leadership, education, advocacy or service.    

AWIS fellows from previous years include several other University of California leaders: UC Provost and Senior Vice President M.R.C. Greenwood, UC San Diego Chancellor Marye Anne Fox, UC Riverside Chancellor France Córdova and UC Santa Cruz Chancellor Denice Denton.       

"I am honored to be elected an AWIS fellow," said Bryant, who also is a professor of developmental and cell biology. "While the number of women in the sciences at all levels of endeavor has increased over the years, we still have more work to do toward achieving gender equity and diversity, both of which, I believe, are essential for an institution to achieve excellence in the sciences."     

AWIS, a non-profit association established in 1971, works to promote women's activities in all fields of science, mathematics and engineering, giving its more than 5,000 members a resource, network and voice. Recognizing the particular needs and issues of women in science, the association provides information about science policy, funding, careers and mentoring, and how these issues affect women in science. Membership to AWIS is open to anyone interested in promoting diversity in science.       

Bryant became dean of the School of Biological Sciences in January 2000 -- a year when less than 15 percent of the tenure-track faculty in the School of Biological Sciences were women. The percentage of women recruited in the previous several years also was low. This prompted her to gather a team to apply successfully for a five-year, $3.45 million National Science Foundation ADVANCE grant to bring about institutional transformation in gender equity, making UCI one of only 19 institutions nationwide, and the only one in California, to receive this award. Three years after establishing the program, 44 percent of the tenure-track faculty recruited across campus were women, up from 22 percent before ADVANCE. In the School of Biological Sciences , the percentage of women faculty recruited has risen from 11 percent before ADVANCE to 59 percent last year, raising the total women faculty to 25 percent in the school.  Bryant attributes the success of the program to its director, Priscilla Kehoe; the support the program received from the Office of the Executive Vice Chancellor; and equity advisors based in the School of Biological Sciences who work with individuals, search committees and department chairs to develop best practices for recruitment and to establish mentoring programs for advancement.     

Bryant received her doctorate in developmental biology from the University of London in 1967. In her research career, she has pioneered the development of molecular techniques for studying regeneration and conducted a series of now classic experiments designed to reveal the underlying logic of limb regeneration. She has served as program director of the National Science Foundation Developmental Biology Review Panel. A fellow of the American Association for the Advancement of Science, she serves on the editorial boards of several journals in her field. Following the state elections last November, she was appointed to California 's Independent Citizens Oversight Committee -- a committee set up to govern the California Institute for Regenerative Medicine approved by the state's voters when they passed Proposition 71. In 1988, she also was recognized for her contributions to women on campus by being the first recipient of the Pacesetter Award -- an award given annually by the Academic and Professional Women of UC Irvine to recognize efforts to improve the status of women on campus.

About the University of California , Irvine : The University of California, Irvine is a top-ranked public university dedicated to research, scholarship and community service. Founded in 1965, UCI is among the fastest-growing University of California campuses, with more than 24,000 undergraduate and graduate students and about 1,400 faculty members. The second-largest employer in dynamic Orange County , UCI contributes an annual economic impact of $3 billion.