Session Speakers

Theresa Brunasso

Theresa Brunasso, Founder and President of D&S Microwave, is a 30-year veteran in the field of Electrical Engineering. Prior to starting D&S Microwave, she spent more than 20 years at EMS Technologies, Defense and Space Division. Theresa began her career in the U.S. Navy as an Instructor at the Consolidated Naval Electronic Warfare School in Pensacola, FL. She was awarded a graduate fellowship through the Air Force Thermionic Engineering Research Program. Theresa holds an Engineer’s Degree and M.E. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Utah, and a B.S. in Physics from the University of West Florida. She is a member of Sigma Pi Sigma, the National Physics Honor Society, and a Senior Member of the IEEE. In 2008, she was one of three Georgia area women honored by Women in Technology (WIT) as a winner in the ninth annual Women of the Year in Technology Awards. That same month she was awarded a U.S. patent titled, “A Compact Beam Former with Low Side Lobes.” She is a contributing author to “Climb: Leading Women in Technology Share Their Journeys to Success.” Theresa lives in Snellville with her husband, Brian Boe, a mathematics professor at UGA.


Sumita PennathurSumita Pennathur began at UCSB in the Mechanical Engineering department in July 2007. Her research group focuses on using fundamental fluidics knowledge at both micro- and nano-scales to create novel devices for practical applications. Prior to coming to UCSB, Pennathur taught at University of Twente and held multiple positions at various companies and schools such as Sandia National Laboratories, Stanford University,National Institute of Standards and Technology, Tigris Corporation, Lockheed Martin,and MIT. She is the co-author of one textbook and general audience textbook on Nanotechnology, and has won multiple awards including the DARPA Young Faculty award and the PECASE (Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineers). In addition to her academic career, Pennathur has consulted with industry on various projects, started two companies, and is an avid alto saxophone player in a local band.


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Russell Harrison is the Director of Government Relations for the IEEE-USA.  Russell leads IEEE-USA’s team of government relations professionals in Washington, DC as they work with members of Congress, the Executive Branch and the media to represent the interests of technology professionals in the United States.  Russell personally manages IEEE-USA’s efforts to enact high-skill immigration and STEM education reform.   Outside of Washington, Russell has spoken at over 200 local, regional and national IEEE meetings about public policy and IEEE members’ role in creating it.  Russell lives in Manassas, Virginia with his wife and son.  In his spare time, Russell serves on the Manassas Planning Commission and is Chair of the Manassas Electoral Board.  He has a B.A. in political science, with minors in history and communications from Allegheny College and a Masters in Public Policy from the University of Maryland.


BrianLilly_PhotoBrian Lilly is an Adjunct Associate Professor and Entrepreneur-in-Residence at TEC. Brian’s entrepreneurial experience includes founding and managing several companies. He is president of SmartSolutions, Inc., which manufactures and sells products he designed for outdoor recreation and vehicle industries, and is also vice president of Ergo-Tech, Inc., which manufactures and sells a patented line of industrial washdown equipment throughout North America. Professor Lilly received his B.S. and M.S. in General Engineering and his Ph.D. in Aeronautical Engineering from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.


Lesley Millar-NicholsonLesley Millar-Nicholson has served as the Director of the Office of Technology Management (OTM) at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign since 2006. As Director, she is responsible for oversight of a team of more than 20 professionals and 12 interns who work with faculty, staff, corporations, and venture groups to commercialize the University’s intellectual property arising from the more than $600 million in research conducted on campus. She also works with a wide range of campus, corporate, and community partners, furthering the office’s mission to encourage innovation, enhance research and facilitate economic development. Prior to joining the OTM, she worked in local government in England where she managed a consulting and strategic management group. A native of Scotland, Lesley has a B.Ed. an M.Ed and an MBA. She is also a Certified Licensing Professional (CLP). Her hobbies include jogging, traveling, and spending time with her wife and 8 year old daughter.


Sumita PennathurSumita Pennathur began at UCSB in the Mechanical Engineering department in July 2007. Her research group focuses on using fundamental fluidics knowledge at both micro- and nano-scales to create novel devices for practical applications. Prior to coming to UCSB, Pennathur taught at University of Twente and held multiple positions at various companies and schools such as Sandia National Laboratories, Stanford University,National Institute of Standards and Technology, Tigris Corporation, Lockheed Martin,and MIT. She is the co-author of one textbook and general audience textbook on Nanotechnology, and has won multiple awards including the DARPA Young Faculty award and the PECASE (Presidential Early Career Award for Science and Engineers). In addition to her academic career, Pennathur has consulted with industry on various projects, started two companies, and is an avid alto saxophone player in a local band.


Carolyn PhillipsCarolyn Phillips is an Assistant Computational Scientist at Argonne National Laboratory (ANL). Carolyn’s research interests involve problems that combine materials, physics, mathematics, and computing.  She has worked on problems ranging from the self-assembly of quasicrystals to the organization of vortices in superconductors.  She also works in algorithm and software development for accelerating science using cutting edge large scale computing resources. Carolyn earned her PhD in Applied Physics and Scientific Computing from the University of Michigan, an SM in Mechanical Engineering and SB in Mathematics from MIT, and also has experience working as a Nuclear Engineer for the US Navy.


"The Next MacGyver" Live Pitch Event

Beth Keser, Ph.D., a recognized global leader in the semiconductor packaging industry with over 18 years of experience, received her B.S. degree in Materials Science and Engineering from Cornell University and her Ph.D. from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Beth’s excellence in developing revolutionary electronic packages for semiconductor devices has resulted in 10 patents, 12 patents pending, and over 40 publications in the semiconductor industry. Based in San Diego, Beth leads the Fan-Out and Fan-In Wafer Level Packaging Technology Development and NPI Group at Qualcomm. Beth is also an IEEE CPMT Distinguished Lecturer who recently chaired IEEE CPMT’s 65th Electronic Component and Technology Conference. Beth also had the unique opportunity last summer to pitch a pilot television script idea to a group of Hollywood producers. Beth submitted her idea to the Next MacGyver competition sponsored by USC, the National Academy of Engineering, Google, Ford, and the MacGyver Foundation. The goal of the Next MacGyver competition was to highlight women in engineering by soliciting television script ideas with a female engineering lead. Beth’s idea was selected with 11 others out of 2000 ideas submitted to pitch to producers in Beverly Hills on July 28. Beth’s idea was selected among 4 others and she is currently working with Morgan Freeman’s production company, Revelation Entertainment, to develop her idea. Revelation Entertainment currently produces Madam Secretary on CBS.

CananDagdeviren_PhotoCanan Dagdeviren was born in 1985 in Istanbul, Turkey. Canan obtained her B.Sc. in Physics Engineering from Hacettepe University in Ankara. She was awarded a full-scholarship to pursue her M.Sc. studies in Materials Science and Engineering at Sabanci University in Istanbul. As a Fulbright Doctoral Fellow, she pursued her Ph.D. (2014) in Material Science and Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign under supervision of Prof. John A. Rogers. Canan’s research experience focused on the applications of active piezoelectric materials and patterning techniques for ‘unusual’ electronic devices with an emphasis on bio-integrated systems. Dagdeviren is currently a postdoctoral research associate in The David H. Koch Institute for Integrative Cancer Research of MIT, working with Prof. Robert Langer. She also collaborates with Prof. Michael Cima and Prof. Ann Graybiel at McGovern Institute for Brain Research of MIT. Recently, Canan has been named a Junior Fellow in the Society of Fellows at Harvard University. Currently, she has 18 journal papers, is an inventor on 2 patent applications, and holds over 30 prestigious awards including: MIT Technology Review Innovators under 35 (MIT TR35) in Turkey, $20K Illinois Innovation Prize, and the 2015 Forbes 30 Under 30 list in Science: Young Scientists Who Are Changing the World. She is also a runner, educational activist, ‘Women in Science’ panel organizer in developing countries.


BarbaraMinsker_PhotoBarbara Minsker, Ph.D., is an Arthur and Virginia Nauman Faculty Scholar, a Professor of Environmental Engineering, and a Faculty Affiliate at the National Center for Supercomputing Applications, University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign. She has received numerous national awards for her research and leadership, including the National Science Foundation Early Faculty Career (CAREER) Award, Army Young Investigator Award, Presidential Early Career Award for Scientists and Engineers, Walter L. Huber Civil Engineering Research Prize, and the Service to the Profession Award. She has launched two start-up organizations and has completed more than 400 hours of leadership training at the Center for Authentic Leadership and CIC (Big 10) Academic Leadership Program. Barbara is also the author of two books on work-life balance and living with purpose, mindfulness, and resilience. Prior to her career in academia, Barbara worked as an environmental policy analyst in Washington, DC. Barbara received a Bachelor of Science with Distinction from Cornell University in Operations Research and Industrial Engineering in 1986 and a PhD from Cornell University in Environmental Systems Engineering in 1996.


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Karen Horting, CAE, is Executive Director & CEO for the Society of Women Engineers (SWE), a 33,000 member organization founded in 1950. With more than 20 years experience in sales, marketing, and fund development, Ms. Horting came to SWE in March 2004 from the New York Academy of Sciences where she served as Director of Strategic Planning. Prior to NYAS, Ms. Horting worked at the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) managing both marketing and fund development on a global level for Science’s Next Wave, a ground-breaking career development website for graduate students and postdocs in STEM. Ms. Horting has a BS in Biology from Northern Illinois University in DeKalb, IL. And in 2000 she earned her MBA from Johns Hopkins University in Baltimore, MD. In May 2008, Ms. Horting earned her Certified Association Executive (CAE) credential from the CAE Commission of the American Society of Association Executives (ASAE). She currently serves on the Automation Federation Board of Directors and the Los Angeles Convention and Visitors Bureau Customer Advisory Board. Previously she served on the Board of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology (CPST).


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Ashlynn Stillwell is an Assistant Professor in Civil and Environmental Engineering at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. She earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from the University of Missouri (2006), and an M.S. in Environmental and Water Resources Engineering (2010), M.P.Aff in Public Affairs (2010), and Ph.D. in Civil Engineering (2013) from The University of Texas at Austin. Her previous work experience includes consulting engineering at Burns & McDonnell (2006-2007) and policy research at the Congressional Research Service (2009). Dr. Stillwell received the 2015 Girl Scouts of Central Illinois Woman of Distinction Award in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics, and has been among the List of Teachers Ranked as Excellent by their Students. Her research interests include the nexus of energy and water systems and the relationship these engineering systems have with public policy. More information about Dr. Stillwell’s research program is available at stillwell.cee.illinois.edu.