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UBC Reports | Vol. 50 | No. 10 | Nov. 4, 2004

The Next Generation of Women Scientists

UBC professor to head new NSERC / General Motors program to boost women’s participation in science and engineering

Computer science professor Anne Condon has been named Chair of a new program designed to increase the participation of women in science and engineering in the B.C. and Yukon regions.

The $700,000 Chair for Women in Science and Engineering, funded by the Natural Sciences and Engineering Research Council of Canada (NSERC) and General Motors of Canada, was announced Oct. 18 by industry minister David Emerson and GM Canada president Michael Grimaldi.

Condon, a specialist in bioinformatics, biomolecular computation and complexity theory, has led several successful outreach programs designed to attract female students to science and engineering programs and careers.

This includes the launch of a first-year UBC course in 2003 called Connecting with Computer Science, which she also teaches. One of the first courses of its kind, it introduces computer science through applications in fine arts, linguistics, music, philosophy, psychology and biology.

Condon, 42, says she’s delighted to get the chance to help involve more Canadian women in science and engineering, especially in computational sciences.

“There is so much potential for technology to make a positive difference in society -- in helping to cure diseases or providing better educational tools for children -- and we need women, as well as men, committed to working towards these goals,” Condon says.

Her pioneering work has included heading a mentoring initiative in the United States where approximately 70 female undergraduate students spent a summer doing research under the supervision of a female mentor. Many of these students later entered graduate school in a related area. After coming to UBC in 1999, she created the Focus on Women in Computer Science committee which organizes activities to support female computer science students and recruits more women, both faculty and students, to the department.

Condon has informally labeled her work to break down barriers the Jade Project because jade is B.C.’s official gemstone, renowned for its toughness and beauty.

As the new Chair for Women in Science and Engineering for B.C. and the Yukon, Condon will create and disseminate educational materials at the high school level, as well as provide funding to the Canadian Distributed Mentor Project to enable outstanding undergraduate computer science students to travel to a Canadian research institution for a summer of research and mentoring.

Last year, NSERC invited proposals to fill chairs for women in science and engineering in the Atlantic, Ontario, Prairie and British Columbia regions. The University of Guelph’s Dr. Valerie Davidson is the Chair for the Ontario region, Dr. Cecilia Moloney of the Memorial University of Newfoundland is the Chair for the Atlantic Region, and Dr. Claire Deschênes of Université Laval occupies the Chair in Quebec. The Prairie Chair remains to be filled.

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Last reviewed 22-Sep-2006

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