Women’s History Month: Get to know 3 women in the College of Arts and Sciences 

Since its establishment in the 1980s, Women’s History Month has taken place each March to encourage the study, observance and celebration of women’s vital impacts on American history. 

Such impacts are evident throughout Case Western Reserve’s past and present, from the university’s origins as the Flora Stone Mather College for Women, to the efforts of today’s Flora Stone Mather Center for Women and student groups such as those in the Women’s Coalition.   

All can celebrate this month with resources and events from Kelvin Smith Library, and stay tuned to The Daily each Wednesday to get to know some of the many women from across fields who help CWRU excel. 

Lucia Yuan

Photo of Lucia Yuan

Doctoral student in the Department of Chemistry 

Lucia Yuan, a second-year doctoral student in chemistry at Case Western Reserve, has a passion for polymeric materials that began in high school. Now, her research is revolutionizing their use in medical applications, particularly in cataract surgery.

Cataracts affect a significant portion of the elderly population in the United States, necessitating surgery as the only effective treatment. However, the use of transparent viscous liquids during surgery can pose risks, potentially leading to blindness.

Working with her advisor, Assistant Professor Metin Karayilan, Yuan’s innovative solution involves developing fluorescent polymeric viscoelastics. These substances are visible to the naked eye, allowing for safer and more efficient removal during surgery.

Yuan’s groundbreaking work was recognized with a “most creative” award at the 2023 IGNITE event. This accolade not only highlights the significance of her research—but also underscores the importance of interdisciplinary collaboration in driving innovation.

Learn more about Yuan in this article.

Johanna Nagy

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Warren E. Rupp Assistant Professor in the Department of Physics 

At Case Western Reserve, physics scholar Johanna Nagy focuses on the polarization of the cosmic microwave background (CMB) and its implications for understanding the universe’s composition and evolution. Despite the invaluable insights the CMB offers, its signals are often obscured by light emitted within our galaxy. Nagy’s work aims to disentangle these galactic foregrounds from the CMB, shedding light on fundamental physics and unraveling the mysteries of our galaxy’s complex processes. 

Her efforts don’t go unnoticed. Recently, Nagy was honored with the prestigious 2024 Cottrell Scholar Award from the Research Corporation for Science Advancement. Her recognition stems from her innovative proposal, titled, “Measuring Cosmic Birefringence in the Presence of Galactic Foregrounds and Improving Career Preparation Through Advanced Physics Labs.”

Beyond her research, Nagy emphasizes the importance of advancing undergraduate physics education. She believes that enhancing advanced laboratory courses, emphasizing data analysis and presentation skills, and fostering inclusivity will better prepare physics students for diverse career paths.

The $120,000 Cottrell Scholar Award not only recognizes Nagy’s groundbreaking research but also supports her efforts to integrate research and teaching, ultimately enriching the academic experience for future physicists.

Learn more about Nagy in this article.

Aja Leatherwood

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Undergraduate studying communication sciences and cognitive science

Aja Leatherwood, an Emerging Scholars Program student in communication sciences and cognitive science at Case Western Reserve, has been making waves in the field of audiology. Recently, she was honored with the prestigious Welter-Muzic Fellowship, awarded by the Schubert Center for Child Studies, for her to attend the American Speech-Language-Hearing Association (ASHA) conference.

The conference played a crucial role in aligning Leatherwood’s passion for diversity and inclusion with her career aspirations in audiology. By supporting her attendance at conferences like ASHA and the American Auditory Society, the fellowship transformed her enthusiasm into a purposeful career path. Leatherwood’s experiences reinforced the significance of culturally sensitive approaches in audiological practices, emphasizing the importance of addressing healthcare disparities and advocating for inclusive practices.

In addition to receiving the Welter-Muzic Fellowship, Leatherwood has garnered other accolades, including a Dream Award from Scholarship America, a Student Diversity Excellence Award, and acceptance into the Mayo Clinic’s summer research program
Learn more about Leatherwood in this Q&A article.