In conjunction with the 200th anniversary of the birth of Susan B. Anthony and the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment recognizing the right of women to vote, the Hajim School is honored to recognize these women who have made significant contributions to engineering and computer science at the University of Rochester.

First women graduates

Bessey and Doell photos

Marie Bessey and Norma Doell overcame long-held stereotypes to become the first women to graduate with engineering degrees from the University of Rochester in 1939. Read more here. And click here for a list of other first graduates and PhD recipients by department and program, Hall of Fame athletes, award winners and Visiting Committee members.


collage of alumni

  • Tanzeem Choudhury '97: professor of information science at Cornell University, leading researcher in novel wearable and mobile systems, and an advocate for gender equity
  • Joan Ewing '67M '73PhD: first woman PhD graduate in engineering at Rochester, former principal scientist at Xerox, advocate for hearing disabled persons.
  • Jeanine Hayes '92: Hajim School Distinguished Alumnae recipient who has thrived at leading teams and scaling innovative ideas at Internet start-ups and iconic global companies, such as Yahoo! and NIKE.
  • Sharon Hoffman-Manning '79: former director of Johnson&Johnson global supply chain, operations consultant with IZBA, CASA volunteer.
  • Susan Houde-Walter '83 '87PhD: first woman to be a tenured faculty member of the Institute of Optics, former OSA president, and CEO of LMD Power of Light Corp.

photos of alumni

  • Diane Litman '82M '86PhD: professor of computer science at University of Pittsburgh, first woman PhD recipient in computer science at Rochester, leader in artificial intelligence, computational linguistics and other areas
  • Theophano Mitsa '88M '91PhD: co-inventor of Blue Noise Mask, one of the most lucrative inventions in UR history; consultant and author; managing member of Aretisoft LLC
  • Diana Nyyssonen '75PhD: first woman PhD graduate at Institute of Optics, "helped reorient the metrology direction of the semiconductor industry" as a researcher at the National Bureau of Standards
  • Katie Schwertz '08: senior design engineer at Edmunds Optic, recently elected director of SPIE, a rising leader in the field, and an outspoken advocate for gender equity
  • Donna Strickland '89PhD: professor at the University of Waterloo, co-recipient of 2018 Nobel Prize in Physics for development of "chirped pulse amplification" while completing her PhD at Rochester

photos of alumni

  • Theresa Tuthill '84 '87M '91PhD: outstanding scholar athlete, first woman full-time faculty member at University of Dayton's engineering school, now senior director of imaging at Pfizer Inc.
  • Alexis Vogt '00 '08PhD: Monroe Community College associate professor, reinvigorated the school's Optical Systems Technology Program to address an acute shortage in the technical workforce of an industry vital to Rochester and the nation
  • Sharon Weiss '99 '01M '05PhD: professor of electrical engineering at Vanderbilt University, director of the Vanderbilt Institute of Nanoscale Science and Engineering, an expert in the use of silicon in photonics and optoelectronics
  • Michele R. Weslander Quaid '94M: named among "7 most powerful women to watch" in 2014 by Entrepreneur magazine for her work in national defense after 9/11, served as Google's chief evangelist and CTO for its public-sector division


Photos of faculty

  • Danielle Benoit: professor of biomedical engineering, director of the Materials Science Program, expert in therapeutic biomaterials for tissue regeneration and targeted delivery of therapeutics, recipient of College Award for Undergraduate Teaching and Research Mentorship
  • Julie Bentley '90 '92M '96PhD: associate professor of optics, first woman instructional track faculty member in the Hajim School, an internationally recognized expert in lens design, recipient of Goergen Award for Excellence in Teaching
  • Laurel Carney: MaryLou Ingram Professor of Biomedical Engineering, an expert in the physiology and psychophysics of hearing, mentors colleagues in grant writing, recipient of multiple teaching awards
  • Diane Dalecki: the Kevin J. Parker Distinguished Professor of Biomedical Engineering, chair of biomedical engineering and director of the Rochester Center for Biomedical Ulstrasound, expert in use of ultrasound for tissue engineering, designed curriculum for fledgling BME department

Photos of faculty

  • Sandhya Dwarkadas: Albert Arendt Hopeman Professor of Engineering, first woman chair of computer science at Rochester, instrumental in securing its participation in BRAID initiative to increase enrollment of women and minorities, expert in parallel and distributed computing systems.
  • Sheryl Gracewski: emeritus professor of mechanical engineering and biomedical engineering, first woman tenured faculty member in engineering at Rochester, first woman recipient of Hajim School Lifetime Achievement Award, expert in modeling the interaction of ultrasound with bubbles and stones in biological fluids and tissues.
  • Amy Lerner: associate professor of biomedical engineering, first female faculty member appointed to the department, created a model senior design program, co-chairs Commission on Women and Gender Equity in Academia, recipient of Goergen Teaching Award
  • Jannick Rolland: Brian J. Thompson Professor of Optical Engineering and director of the Center for Freeform Optics, co-founder of LighTopTech, recipient of Edmund A. Hajim Outstanding Faculty Award, recognized as a woman pioneer in augmented and virtual reality


Wendi Heinzelman at her investiture

  • Wendi Heinzelman: first woman dean of the Hajim School, former AS&E dean of graduate students, co-founder of Networking Networking Women (N2 Women), expert in wireless communication systems and protocols


photos friends

  • Marylou Ingram '47MD: innovative researcher in cytometry, radiation biology, cellular biology, and immunology, a role model for women in STEM and a generous benefactor supporting fellowships and a professorship in the Department of Biomedical Engineering
  • Beth Olivares: Kearns Center executive director and University's dean for diversity in Arts, Sciences & Engineering, directs successful Upward Bound, McNairs Scholar and summer research programs that have benefited first-generation, low-income, minority, and women undergraduates
  • Louise Slaughter: former 16-term congresswoman, champion of arts and the humanities, crusader for jobs and tecnnoloy, forceful advocate for women, staunch supporter of programs vital to the University and the Hajim School


photos of staff

  • Sally Child: Former senior lab associate for Edwin Carstensen and Diane Dalecki, mentored numerous students--increasing numbers of whom were women--during 52-year career, an expert in the biological effects of ultrasound whose name appears on nearly 70 journal articles
  • Cindy Gary: assistant dean for grants and contracts, helps maintain robust research portfolio in tough climate for federal funding, excels at orchestrating multi-investigator, multi-discipline, multi-institution proposals, launched CAREER award boot camp for junior faculty, recipient of Edmund A. Hajim Outstanding Staff Award
  • Marty Guenther: first undergraduate coordinator for Department of Computer Science, instrumental in helping the department attract women undergraduates to a field in which they have been underrepresented, a staunch advocate of study abroad, recipient of Hajim School Outstanding Staff Award

photos of staff

  • Lisa Norwood '86, '95 (MW): assistant dean for undergraduate studies, architect of award-winning STEM-Gems program to retain underrepresented minority engineering students, recipient of University Witmer Award and Hajim School Outstanding Staff Award for unceasing efforts to attract and retain women and minority students in engineering
  • Donna Porcelli: former graduate program coordinator in Department of Biomedical Engineering, brought much-needed administrative knowledge to the fledgling department, recipient of University Witmer Award and Hajim School Outstanding Staff Award
  • Dottie Welch: BME's first undergraduate coordinator, set the standard for working with students, prompting Hajim School to establish an annual award in her name for staff members "whose performance and dedication enriches the student experience in the tradition exemplified by Dottie Welch."

Student chapters

Kate Korslund helps Girls Schools with a project at Girls Day, hosted by SWE.

The Society of Women Engineers (SWE) and Women in Computing/Minorities in Computing (WiC-MiC) have worked hard to create a supportive community for women students in engineering and computer science, and also to help build pipelines to interest students in middle school--and even earlier--in STEM fields. Read more here.