ASPIRED Project Milestones

Growing gender equality

Since the launch of this project, we took a moment to reflect on the role ASPIRED has played on campus with its implemented programs. We are thrilled to celebrate the milestones with you. Through ASPIRED project’s UM-Intersect, UM-Connect, and UM-Integrate programs, the University of Memphis has adapted gender equity initiatives in recruitment, hiring, retention, and advancement for STEM women faculty. The principal investigator of this project is Dr. Esra Ozdenerol, professor of Earth Sciences and directors of the GIS Certificate Program as well as SAGE (Spatial Analysis and Geographic Education) Laboratory.

ASPIRED UM Intersect
STRIDE- Join us for the Inaugural Workshop for STRIDE (Strategies and Tactics for Recruiting to Improve Diversity and Excellence) on Wednesday, April 6, 2022. STRIDE is an hour long, peer-to-peer interactive workshop intended for search committees to learn about best practices to ensure a fair and equitable search process. Our committee consists of six members (Dr. Kristoffer Berlin, Dr. Joel Bumgardner, Dr. Amy Curry, Dr. Chrysanthe Preza, Dr. Firouzeh Sabri, and Dr. Laura Taylor). To learn more about STRIDE workshops and available times, visit our STRIDE Workshop webpage.
ASPIRED UM Intersect
WELCOME packet- The welcome packet provides new employees with resources such as getting started on campus, development opportunities, childcare, navigating Memphis, and more.
ASPIRED UM Intersect- Department Climate Improvement Grants
In Spring 2021, the ASPIRED team conducted department climate surveys and introduced the Department Climate Improvement Grant to all STEM departments to implement climate improvement projects. Examples of activities proposed by the departments include, but are not limited to, symposia or series, search committee training, bias awareness and reduction training, capacity building, policy review and reform, and recruitment and pipeline efforts. These interventions will focus on helping to create climates that are inclusive and responsive to the needs of women and URM faculty—potentially reducing feelings of isolation and reducing hostility and discrimination based on gender and/or minority status.

ASPIRED’s Tiger-Lilly Collective (TLC) theatre group will join the CAS Chair/Director meeting in May to perform interactive sketches on implicit bias. TLC performances will educate audiences by catching them off-guard and illustrating in real time and using common scenarios how gender and implicit biases play out in their own lives. TLC actors are UofM students with Dr. Holly Derr, head of Directing Program, directing the interactive sketches.


Mentoring- The mentoring program welcomed Drs. Ozdenerol, Parrill-Baker, and Haut Donahue as mentors and Drs. Antipova, Jennings, Labarre-Powell, and Pleshkan as mentees. The members are participating in a 4-week, 4-module self-paced training where mentors and mentees will develop competencies to engage in an effective, culturally responsive mentoring relationship while improving STEM self-efficacy and identity. These training modules are available through Canvas to mentors and mentees who are accepted into the program and consist of collaborative discussions and problem-based scenarios to socialize both the mentors and mentees to the peer mentoring process. 


STEM Luncheons-

STEM Luncheons

Our STEM luncheons were a great success. Our first STEM luncheon, which served as the kickoff for the UM-Connect Mentoring program, was on November 5, 2021, and invited Dr. Melissa McDaniels to speak about STEM mentoring. Since then, we have hosted Dr. Lisa Wolf-Wendel who spoke on Work-Life-Family Balance, Dr. Robin Selinger who spoke on Strategies for Success in Academic STEM careers, and Dr. Terri Reed who spoke on Diversity, Equity, and Implicit Bias. The STEM luncheons provided mentors and mentees participating in the UM-Connect Mentoring program the opportunity to connect with one another and develop professionally. Our speakers are broadcast through zoom to a live and virtual audience. We would like the UofM STEM community to attend our upcoming luncheon on March 22, at 12 PM with Dr. Jill Sible who will speak on promoting excellence and inclusion in the STEM classroom.


Integrate Grants-UM Integrate has awarded integrate grants that support faculty in research, professional development, and/or work-family integration. The grants were awarded to Drs. Kensha Clark from the Chemistry Department, Misty Freeman from Mathematical Science, Chrysanthe Preza from Electrical and Computer Engineering, Maryam Salehi from Civil Engineering, and Kan Yang from Computer Science.

Dual Career Taskforce-The Dual career task force was formed and is developing a dual career policy for the University of Memphis. The task force is a collective group of members from faculty, leadership, administration, HR, and the Provost’s office.

Learn more about what is happening by visiting the ASPIRED website, or follow us on LinkedIn. For further questions regarding this initiative, contact Ozdenerol, at eozdenrl@memphis.edu, or the program coordinator, Mekensie Ivy, at mmivy@memphis.edu.