4 areas where UMSL women lead the charge

As Women’s History Month starts, and the University of Missouri–St. Louis begins commemorating the accomplishments and contributions of women through programming curated by the Office of Student Involvement, we at UMSL Daily wish to recognize the strong UMSL women within our pages.

The areas where women shine are much too numerous to list comprehensively. However, looking back through the archives of the last 12 months, we’ve noticed synergy among certain subject areas. Read on to learn about four areas of convergence where UMSL women have been making strides, taking charge and changing lives.


1. COVID-19

Accelerated BSN student Samantha Cardwell is one of 15 College of Nursing students who are helping screen Amazon delivery workers for signs of COVID-19 through a new partnership. (Photos courtesy of Shawne Manies)

Accelerated BSN student Samantha Cardwell is one of 15 College of Nursing students who are helping screen Amazon delivery workers for signs of COVID-19 through a new partnership. (Photo courtesy of Shawne Manies)

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has inarguably been the defining thread of the past year, and female UMSL faculty, students and alumni have been active leaders in the fight against it.

They’ve been in the field, like Kelci Wallace volunteering to work in the testing tents, Samantha Cardwell testing Amazon workers, Sally Breen caring for patients on the edge of the Navajo Nation and Miya Stepanovic interning with the St. Louis COVID-19 Regional Response Team.

Sharlee Climer

Sharlee Climer and colleagues at Washington University and St. Louis and Oak Ridge National Laboratory received a $650,000 grant from the National Institute on Aging to investigate pathways of COVID-19 to better understand why different patients experience different symptoms. (Photo by August Jennewein)

They’ve contributed significant research, such as Professor of Nursing Anne Fish and PhD student Fan Li documenting the experiences of volunteer providers at the epicenter of the outbreak, Assistant Professor Rachel Wamser-Nanney studying the negative effects of the pandemic on young children and their parents, Assistant Professor Sharlee Climer examining why different patients experience different symptoms and Jody Spiess studying nursing student pandemic education.

Finally, faculty have shared their expertise: College of Nursing Director of Clinical Operations Shawne Manies discussed the COVID-19 vaccination process, Professor Michele Meckfessel talked the pandemic and taxes and Associate Professor Lara Zwarun discussed strategies to slow the spread of disinformation during the coronavirus pandemic.


2. Diversity, inclusion and racial justice

Marisa Omori

Assistant Professor Marisa Omori had a background in economics when she first got into criminology, and she was interested in examining drug markets and drug crimes. It was hard to ignore the racial disparities present in drug laws and policies. (Photo by August Jennewein)

As the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor at the hands of law enforcement sparked a wave of protests, those within and without UMSL sought to create meaningful change.

Jennifer Cobbina researched race, gender and crime as well as public responses to police use of force, Assistant Professor Marisa Omori examined racial inequality in criminal justice system and Professor Lee Slocum sought areas for potential police reform. COVID-19 and racial justice converged as Assistant Professor Sheila Grigsby discussed the disproportionate effects of COVID-19 on African American communities in St. Louis and in Lacey Corbett’s research for the Ferguson Commission.

Brittany Wright .

Assistant Clinical Professor Brittany Wright was named the first-ever coordinator of diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Optometry (Photo by August Jennewein)

Women leaders also sought to make change in academia as Assistant Clinical Professor Brittany Wright was named the first-ever coordinator of diversity, equity and inclusion for the College of Optometry and through Assistant Professor Roxanne Reid’s “Cultural Diversity in Health Care” class.


3. Leadership

Chancellor Kristin Sobolik

University of Missouri System President Mun Choi and the Board of Curators named Kristin Sobolik the new chancellor of the University of Missouri–St. Louis (Photo by August Jennewein).

The last twelve months have brought fresh UMSL leaders, and a large portion of those spots are filled by women.

In April, Kristin Sobolik was named UMSL’s 8th chancellor. Then Marie Mora became the new provost and executive vice chancellor for academic affairs; Tanisha Stevens was appointed UMSL’s first-ever vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, Tanika Busch was named vice chancellor for finance and administration and chief financial officer; Kim Baldus became the Pierre Laclede Honors College associate dean; and Joan Phillips was appointed dean of UMSL’s College of Business Administration.

Ella Jones

Ella Jones entered politics in 2015 after a successful career as a chemist and Mary Kay consultant and sales director. Jones became Ferguson’s first Black city councilor and then mayor in 2020. Her background in chemistry, especially her experience collecting data, has been useful to her campaigns for office. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Off campus, Ella Jones made history as the first woman and Black resident elected mayor of Ferguson, and Curators’ Distinguished Professor of Criminology and Criminal Justice Janet Lauritsen was elected president of the American Society of Criminology.


4. The fine arts and arts education

Jennifer Fisher in her classroom

Jennifer Fisher teaches undergraduate and graduate art education courses at UMSL and directs a program that combines a BFA with a Missouri teaching certificate in art. While she works to make sure her students have a firm grasp of basic pedagogy, she also tries to instill the importance of empathy in the classroom. (Photo by August Jennewein)

There’s more than one way to make an impact, and the arts have been enriching lives since the Sulawesi cave paintings, and possibly earlier, through to this year, when Assistant Teaching Professor Jennifer Fisher was named Missouri Art Education Association Art Educator of the Year, and Professor Joanna Mendoza, a member of the Arianna String Quartet, was named the 2021 recipient of the Artist Teacher Award from the Missouri chapter of the American String Teachers Association.


Maribel Ramirez-Bohenkemp came to UMSL to take advantage of its unique Teach in 12 program. Now certified, she is searching for a teaching position and plans to pursue a master’s degree in art education. (Photo by August Jennewein)

Shellby Brannam became editor of Show Me ART, a bi-annual publication of the Missouri Art Education Association, and featured Maribel Ramirez-Bohenkamp’s artwork on the magazine cover. St. Louis Public Schools 2019 Educator of the Year Britt Tate splits her time between Bryan Hill Elementary School and Columbia Elementary School teaching art, and Amela Cikota teaches in the Mehlville School District and has exhibited internationally in cities such as London and Milan.


Short URL: https://blogs.umsl.edu/news/?p=88300