Panelists & Discussion Leaders

Shadi AshnaiShadi Ashnai, M.S. – Wolfram Research
Shadi Ashnai is currently the Manager of Image Processing in the R&D department at WolframResearch, Inc. Her team works on features in image, signal, and audio processing. Shadi has worked at Wolfram since 2008, starting as a developer after earning her MS in Computer Science from University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She also has a B.Sc. in Computer Engineering from Sharif University of Technology, Tehran, Iran. Shadi has a daughter and expects her second child in November. By the time of the conference, she will be a mother of two and proud to say that she is completely happy and satisfied both in her personal and professional lives. She believes that the key factors of being a successful woman, both at home and at work, are self-discipline, optimism, and an organized environment. For married women and mothers, having a supportive partner is an additional key. Shadi loves all sports, reading books, cooking, and shopping! She also enjoys socializing with interesting people with whom she can share ideas and learn from.

Cristina BeldicaDr. Cristina Beldica – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Cristina Beldica is currently the Executive Director for the Blue Waters Project at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications. The project deployed and is now operating a High Performance Computing system capable of sustained petaflop performance that is designed to meet the compute-intensive, memory-intensive, and data-intensive needs of a wide range of science and engineering applications. Prior t ojoining Blue Waters project, she was the project manager for the Data Management component of the Dark Energy Survey project, for the Large Synoptic Survey Telescope (LSST) project at NCSA, and for the Network for Earthquake Engineering Simulation (NEES) Systems Integration project. Cristina’s degrees include a Ph.D. in Engineering Mechanics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, an M.B.A. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and an M.S. in Aeronautical Engineering from University Politehnica of Bucharest. Dr. Beldica began her career at NCSA as a research scientist for Computational Structural Mechanics. Her research interests include characterization of viscoelastic materials, linear and nonlinear stress analysis, and fracture properties of reinforced composites. She serves as a reviewer for the NSF Advance Cyberinfrastructure Division, DOE Computer Science Graduate Fellows program, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, and technical journals such as the Journal of Sandwich Structures and Materials.

Karl BrommerDr. Karl Brommer – BAE Systems
Karl Brommer is an engineering fellow and technical director at BAE Systems. He currently leads thesystems engineering subject matter expert group of 57 engineers distributed throughout the US. He was inducted into the Association of Old Crows Technology Hall of Fame for work in electronic warfare technology. Karl has licensed 39 of his patents to six different companies, with most of these inventions relating to radios and sensors. While working full-time at Lockheed, Karl earned a PhD in theoretical physics at MIT specializing in photonic crystals and parallel computation. He earned his BS in engineering physics at Cornell. He is a former NSF Fellow at MIT and he is a former lieutenant in the US Naval Reserve engineering duty officer program. Karl and his wife, a civil engineering graduate, also operate Mountain Dynamics, a company specializing in wireless sensors. Karl’s daughter earned a BS in materials science at Illinois and a PhD at MIT, specializing in aluminum recycling. Together, Karl and his daughter have received ten patents related to micro radio technology, all licensed to a start-up company last year. Karl’s son earned a nuclear engineering degree at Illinois and is completing a PhD at MIT in mechanical engineering.

Sharon HwangSharon A. Hwang, J.D. – McAndrews, Held, & Malloy Law Firm
Sharon Hwang is an attorney at the intellectual property law firm McAndrews, Held & Malloy. She practices in all areas of intellectual property law with a particular emphasis on patent litigation and intellectual property counseling. She represents patentees and defendants in high-stakes patent litigation in federal courts and in the Federal Circuit Court of Appeals. Her practice spans such diverse technologies as medical devices, implantable defibrillators, orthopedic implants, drug eluting stents, surgical navigation systems, drift tube linear accelerators, digital cellular telephones, interactive television systems and complex communication systems. Sharon was recently elected to McAndrews’Executive Committee, and she spearheaded the launch of the firm’s Diversity in Patent Law Fellowship, which encourages diversity in the field of intellectual property law. Sharon is a Fellow of Leadership Greater Chicago, and she currently serves on the Boards of the Chicago Committee, the Chicago LegalClinic, the Chinese American Bar Association, and the Asian American Bar Association Law Foundation. She previously served as the President of the Asian American Bar Association of Chicago.

Melissa McCartneyDr. Melissa McCartney – Science Magazine
Melissa McCartney is an Associate Editor at Science magazine where she works on several education initiatives, including Science in the Classroom, a project aimed at making Science articles more accessible to students and the public. Prior to Science, Melissa was a Mirzayan Science and Technology Policy Fellow at the National Academies where she worked with the Committee on Women in Science, Engineering, and Medicine.  In her academic life, Melissa was a Postdoctoral Fellow in the Department of Neurology at The Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, where she examined network dynamics in the hippocampus; specifically with regards to seizure generation in epilepsy.  Melissa completed her PhD in Neuroscience from The George Washington University and has a BS in Biochemistry from Binghamton University (SUNY).  Melissa sits on the Board of the Washington, DC chapters of the Association for Women in Science (AWIS) and the Society for Neuroscience (SfN). A swimmer since she can remember, Melissa spends her free time starting at the black line at the bottom of the pool training for various open water events.

Kristen ParrishProfessor Kristen Parrish – Arizona State University
Kristen Parrish is an Assistant Professor in the School of Sustainable Engineering and the Built Environment at Arizona State University (ASU). Kristen’s work focuses on integrating energy efficiency measures into building design, construction, and operations processes. Specifically, she is interested in novel design processes that financially and technically facilitate energy-efficient buildings. Her work also explores how principles of lean manufacturing facilitate energy-efficiency in the commercial building industry. Another research interest of Kristen’s is engineering education, where she explores how project- and experience-based learning foster better understanding of engineering and management principles. Prior to joining ASU, Kristen was at the Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory (LBNL) as a PostdoctoralFellow (2009-11) and then a Scientific Engineering Associate (2011-2012) in the Building Technologies and Urban Systems Department. She worked in the Commercial Buildings group, developing energy efficiency programs and researching technical and non-technical barriers to energy efficiency in the buildings industry. She has a background in collaborative design and integrated project delivery. She holds a BS and MS in Civil Engineering from the University of Michigan and a PhD in Civil Engineering Systems from University of California Berkeley.

Meredith SellersDr. Meredith Sellers – Exponent, Inc.
 Dr. Meredith Sellers is a Senior Engineer in the Materials and Corrosion Engineering Practice of Exponent Failure Analysis Associates (Exponent). In her capacity as a technical consultant at Exponent, she aids clients with materials analysis and incident/accident investigation, particularly as they relate to oil and gas pipelines, chemical process safety, and consumer and industrial electronics. Her research expertise lies in the synthesis and characterization of nano-structured materials for microelectronics and energy storage devices. Meredith earned her B.S. and Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Cornell University and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, respectively. Prior to joining Exponent, she was a postdoctoral researcher at the US Army Engineer Research and Development Center – Construction Engineering Research Laboratory (ERDC-CERL). She has also held research appointments in the Micro-Total-Analytical Systems and Entry Control & Contraband Detection Technologies organizations at Sandia National Laboratories and in the Department of Chemistry at University College London. Meredith has been an active member of the Society of Women Engineers (SWE) at the local and national level since 2001, and also belongs to the Palo Alto Chapter of the Association for Women in Science(AWIS).

April WinslowApril Winslow, M.S., R.D. – University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

April Winslow is the founder of Choose to Change Nutrition Services. Her nutritional services practice emphasizes the translation of nutritional science into life skills. She earned her MS in Clinical Nutrition from New York University and BS in Dietetics from Virginia Tech. April speaks nationally on clinical signs of malnutrition in psychiatric conditions and believes in educating professionals to recognize food as a powerful non-verbal communication tool and symbol of emotional attachment. She is currently a doctoral research assistant in the Department of Food Sciences and Human Nutrition at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, where she is investigating food-based patterns that influence mood stability. April’s passions include spiritual reflection and interpersonal development, writing, cooking, interior design, and studying nutritional neuropsychology.