Meet the Speakers
32nd Annual Susan M. Arseven '75 Conference for Women in Science and Engineering
DR. TATIANA ERUKHIMOVA
Texas A&M University, Department of Physics & Astronomy
It’s not business, it’s personal
Dr. Tatiana Erukhimova is Texas A&M Presidential Professor for Teaching Excellence and inaugural holder of Marsha L. ’69 and Ralph F. Schilling ’68 Endowed Chair in the Department of Physics & Astronomy. She received her PhD from the Russian Academy of Sciences in 1999 and joined Texas A&M University in 2001. She is a recipient of numerous awards for teaching and public outreach. Tatiana organizes annual Physics & Engineering Festivals attended by thousands of visitors. She develops innovative education programs by incorporating outreach activities as an integral element of the student learning experience, both inside and outside the classroom. Tatiana’s recent videos featuring physics demonstrations attracted over 500 million views on departmental social media. She appeared on CBS Mornings, ABC news, and Jennifer Hudson Show. Tatiana is a lead PI in the NSF-funded nationwide study of the impact of outreach physics programs on the students facilitating them.
DR. LAURA HILL
Brewmaster & Co-owner, KinderHill Brew Lab, '13
Brewing Entrepreneurship: My Path from Graduate School to Starting a Small Business
Laura received her Bachelor’s degree in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University, her Master’s degree in Food Science focused in Flavor Chemistry of fermented beverages from Washington State University, and her Doctorate in Bioengineering, focused in Food Engineering from Texas A&M University. Laura worked for Spoetzl Brewery (Shiner) for 4 years as the Quality Assurance Manager where she developed new beer recipes, managed yeast growth, and analyzed every aspect of the beers to ensure they were up to the highest standards of quality. While working at Spoetzl, Laura earned her Brewing Diploma from the Institute of Brewing & Distilling.
DR. ELSA ALINA MURANO
Professor & Director, Texas A&M Borlaug Institute
Perseverance: The Key to Making a Difference
After earning a Bachelor’s degree in Biology from Florida International University, Dr. Murano received a Ph.D. in Food Science & Technology from Virginia Tech. She began her career as a food microbiologist at Iowa State University in 1990, and later joined the faculty at Texas A&M University as professor of food safety. As a scientist, Dr. Murano received an average of ~$750K/year in extramural funding, published over 60 scientific papers, and 7 book chapters in the field of food safety. From 2001 to 2004, Professor Murano served as Undersecretary for Food Safety at the United States Department of Agriculture, the highest-ranking food safety official in the U.S. government. In 2005, she was appointed Dean and Vice Chancellor of Agriculture and Life Sciences at Texas A&M, and in 2008 Dr. Murano became the first woman and first Hispanic president of the University. From 2012 to the present, she has been serving as Director of the Norman E. Borlaug Institute for International Agriculture at Texas A&M, having secured more than $130M in funding to conduct applied research and extension projects to lift small farmers out of poverty and hunger in Asia, Latin America, Sub Saharan Africa, and the Middle East.
DR. DEBRA FOLWER
Executive Director, Center for Teaching Excellence, Texas A&M University, '03
Finding Your Passion Requires Strength, Resilience, and Change
Dr. Debra Fowler serves as Executive Director of the Center for Teaching Excellence. After an extensive industry career, she earned her Ph.D. in interdisciplinary engineering from Texas A&M University, with a research focus on first-year engineering students’ deep versus surface learning. In 2005, Dr. Fowler joined Texas A&M’s Center for Teaching Excellence (CTE). Throughout her 20 years of service to Texas A&M, Debra has served as an educational development leader through both the CTE and her graduate faculty appointment in the Department of Educational Psychology, has championed countless colleagues, and has developed two nationally and internationally recognized innovative educational models, the Program Re-Design (PRD) and Transformative Doctoral Education (TDEM) models. The PRD model, a faculty-led, data-driven process aimed at assisting programs to develop more learner-centered curriculum has directly impacted more than 36 new and existing degree programs. Showcasing her work to address long-standing issues plaguing doctoral education, the TDEM framework supports intentional graduate education through individual development plans and mentoring, transferable skills development, and interdisciplinary collaboration recommendations. Debra seeks to change the world through collaboration, teaching, and learning. Her approach to work exemplifies the Aggie core values and expands what others can accomplish, thus earning her many accolades including the Texas A&M President’s Meritorious Service Award.
DR. ALLISON MCGRAW
Laboratory Manager, Texas A&M Physics & Astronomy
The World is Your Asteroid: STEAM Rises through Rocks
Dr. Allison McGraw is the Laboratory Manager at Texas A&M University's Physics Lab Center. With a Ph.D. in Planetary Science from the prestigious Lunar & Planetary Laboratory received in May 2023, she swiftly transitioned from Tucson to College Station, bringing her passion for space exploration. She completed her Bachelor of Science in Geosciences in 2017 followed by an internship at the Space Studies Board for the National Academies of Science before starting graduate school. At the Physics Lab Center, Allison leads 13 enthusiastic undergraduates, conducting over 300 physics and astronomy teaching demos. Guided by the mantra "if you can dream it, you can build it," she encourages her students to actively engage with exciting physics demonstrations. Allison dives into the fascinating world of space materials. Her research, using infrared spectroscopy, connects Earth-bound meteorites to their asteroid origins. Engaging her students in building a spectrometer, she thrives on collaborative scientific exploration as an early career scientist. What sets Allison apart is her unique blend of science, art, and of course, physics. Inspired by space, she crafts captivating Data Art to demystify complex concepts for all ages. Throughout her STEAM journey, rocks, whether from Earth or beyond, have been her constant muse.
Center Manager, Texas A&M Superfund Research Center
Refining a career path as a non-engineer in an engineering world
Arlean Rohde has her Masters degree in Public Health, Environmental & Occupational Health from School of Public Health, Rutgers Medical School, Piscataway, NJ. She retired from a 24-year career in the oil and gas industry, where she started off as a toxicologist, and over the course of her career, experienced domestic and international assignments, and developed a unique set of knowledge, past experiences and skills. As a post-retirement job, she is employed as the center manager at the Texas A&M Superfund Research Center, College Station, TX where she coordinates the Research Center’s team of inter-disciplinary researchers and graduate students from biomedical, architectural science, data science, and engineering sectors.
DR. MEG PATTERSON
Assistant Professor, Texas A&M Health Behavior '16
The Power of Connection
Dr. Meg Patterson is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Health Behavior within the School of Public Health at Texas A&M University. As a social and behavioral scientist, Meg is interested in how social connections, positions, and networks impact the health and wellbeing of individuals and communities, particularly relative to addiction recovery. Most of her research applies social network analysis (SNA), a methodology and theoretical framework that analytically focuses on the relationships that exist within networks, and how those relationships yield small and large-scale change. In addition to her research, Meg developed and teaches multiple graduate-level courses on Social Network Analysis at Texas A&M and mentors students from A&M and from other universities who are interested in applying SNA in their own work. Prior to joining the faculty at Texas A&M in 2018, Meg served as the Director of Wellness at Baylor University from 2013-2018. Outside of work Meg is a morning person, loves fitness and nutrition, and most importantly is wife to Clint and mom to Beck (7).