BY JUDY CARMACK BROSS
The more than 400 guests who attended The Women’s Board of the Field Museum’s Women in Science Luncheon heard Dr. Amal Alachkar, a Syrian neuroscientist and pharmacologist, speak on her research leading to innovative treatments for Parkinson’s disease, depression, schizophrenia, and autism. Dr. Alachkar established the first neuroscience lab in Syria and received a Hubert H. Humphrey Fellowship at Pennsylvania State University in 2011 after her life was endangered by her support of the democratic movement in her home country. Funding from the Institute of International Education Scholar Rescue Fund enabled Dr. Alachkar to secure a two-year position at University of California-Irvine in 2012 where she is now a tenured professor.
Amy Scalera Findlay and Mihra Seta co-chaired the luncheon and Angelique Power, President of the Field Foundation, moderated a conversation with Dr. Alachkar about her work. But the event began with Dr. Alachkar speaking with young women from the Chicago Public Schools about careers for women in scientific fields. Proceeds from the day support museum opportunities for young women aspiring to pursue STEM careers.
Current Women’s Board President Donna Greenberg talked about the impact of the luncheon: “In 2000, the Women’s Board created this luncheon, which what was then an ambitious goal to sponsor just one fellowship for a deserving scientist pursuing her PhD. This year, 19 years later, we raised more than $330,000 for a variety of programs, all aimed to improve opportunities for women in the sciences here at the Field Museum, including the original fellowship, plus 10 summer internships and a post-doctoral position.”
The Women’s Board is the primary funder and the Field’s lead partner in these efforts boosting young women interested in the sciences. Dr. Lesley de Souza, co-chair for the Women in Science Steering Committee and Field Museum conservation biologist and ichthyologist told guests, “Our young scholars are immersed in an environment to do scientific research alongside some of the world’s leading scientists, with many having their first experience learning from a female scientist.”
She continued, “Being financially supported allows these young women to be fully engaged in their research opportunity and will catapult them into the next generation of women scientists who are making a difference in our world.”
For further information about Women in Science and other Field programming, visit fieldmuseum.org.
Photo credit: Kyle Flubacker Photography