Caitlyn Cardetti and Samantha Weber-Fishkin, two PhD candidates from Stony Brook University, have won American Fellowships from the American Association of University Women (AAUW).
AAUW American Fellowships support women scholars who are pursuing full-time study to complete dissertations, conducting postdoctoral research full time, or preparing research for publication for eight consecutive weeks. Candidates are evaluated on the basis of scholarly excellence; quality and originality of project design; and active commitment to helping women and girls through service in their communities, professions or fields of research.
AAUW has awarded more than $115 million in fellowships and grants to over 13,000 scholars and organizations in 50 states, Washington, D.C., Puerto Rico and Gaum and 150 countries, one of the largest scholarship programs for women in the world. American Fellowships range from $6,000 to $30,000.
Cardetti is working toward a PhD in molecular and cellular pharmacology. Her research project, “Characterizing the Role of Neugrin in Mitochondrial RNA Processing,” is focused on mammalian mitochondrial RNA processing. She is particularly interested in exploring the role of liquid-liquid phase separation in this processing. She is dedicated to promoting science literacy, fostering trust between the public and science, and challenging the scientific field and academia to be more inclusive.
“I am very honored I was selected to receive this award,” Cardetti said. “It felt really nice to be recognized and validated for my hard work in not only my research but also for my work with the Graduate Women in Science and Engineering (GWISE) community at SBU. Also it was a huge relief as my funding source for my final year was in limbo and now, fortunately, is not.”
Samantha Weber-Fishkin is working toward a PhD in biomedical engineering. Her research project, “RBC Morphology and Aggregation: The Role of the Actin Cytoskeleton,” focuses on red blood cell aggregation, a reversible phenomenon that, if left untreated, can lead to clots that preclude stroke, myocardial infarction, thermal burn injury and now Covid-19.
Her work addresses a potential actin-mediated mechanism by which hyperthermia and/or hypoxemia induces actin rearrangement, thereby producing red cell shape changes and aggregation. Her goal is to become a physician-scientist, as she plans to pursue a medical education upon completion of her degree.
“Being selected for the AAUW fellowship is such an honor for the final steps of my PhD journey,” Weber-Fishkin said. “My journey began after several male (graduate school and industry) recruiters brushed aside my knowledge and abilities despite presenting my work at a conference. That experience left such an impression that throughout my PhD training; I have embraced my mentorship role for all students that entered our lab, with particular attention to females that want to pursue a STEM career. Receiving this fellowship not only validated my efforts to develop relationships with female colleagues, but also my dedication to the process as a whole for the last five years. This fellowship provides me with funding to dedicate the time necessary to complete the final stage of writing my dissertation.”
The American Fellowship program began in 1888, a time when women were discouraged from pursuing an education. It is AAUW’s largest fellowship program and the oldest non-institutional source of graduate funding for women in the United States.
AAUW has led the fight for fair pay and economic opportunity for women, noting that women still get just 82 cents for every dollar paid to a man, and men continue to dominate the top roles and highest-paying professions. Its mission is to narrow the gender pay gap and champion equal opportunities in education.