The following is from a press release sent by the Technology Association of Iowa detailing the 2012 Women of Innovation winners.


2012 Women of Innovation Award Winners

Research Innovation and Leadership: Dr. Eve Wurtele, Iowa State University. Wurtele is internationally recognized for her research of plant-derived chemicals. She has developed data management software used widely by the research community. She’s also led the creation of a videogame called Meta!Blast. The game features virtual reality technologies to teach high schools students about cellular structure and metabolism.

Academic Innovation and Leadership in Secondary Education: Jonnie Becker, Charles City High School. Science teacher Becker created a student-led earth science research team, funded through a Microsoft Settlement Grant of $40,000. Her first students designed and constructed a model of a wind/wave hybrid generator, then conducted a feasibility study for locating the generators on Lake Erie. The second year's students designed an earthquake generation model to test the durability of various bridge formations.

Academic Innovation and Leadership in Post-Secondary Education: Dr. Jodi Prosise, St. Ambrose University. Prosise developed the Program for Assistive Technologies for the Underprivileged project, where her students work in long-distance collaborative design teams with engineering students at Virginia’s Sweet Briar College. She also led the development of the Undergraduate STEM Summer Research Institute at St. Ambrose.

Entrepreneurial Innovation and Leadership: Kate Washut, Far Reach, Inc. Washut is one of five founding partners of Far Reach, a company that specializes in custom software development, web design and development, marketing consulting, and mobile development. Washut manages day-to-day operations, human resources, and project management. She also maintains the company’s lively and customer-focused work environment.

Business Innovation and Leadership: Dr. Sondra Ashmore, IBM. Ashmore is IBM’s Executive Portfolio Manager of Storage Solutions, a worldwide, cross-divisional team commissioned by the CEO. She serves on the Senior and Executive Project Management Board, and is responsible for selecting and approving project management leaders for certification. Her team developed Linear Tape File System, software that stores, exchanges, and archives video content. The product won an Emmy this year, as well as an Engineering Excellence award from Hollywood Post-Alliance.

Government Agency/Non-Profit Innovation and Leadership: Jacqueline Comito, Iowa State University. Comito is Program Manager of Iowa Learning Farms. She and her team use ethnological research to improve outreach and education about conservation. She’s also the director of Water Rocks!, a statewide water-awareness campaign for young people that uses music, art, literature and more to make science more compelling. She has inspired conservation-related partnerships with government, non-profit, and academic organizations.

Rising Star: Ann Staudt, Iowa State University. Staudt, an environmental engineer, works with Iowa Learning Farms and Water Rocks!. She led the design of interchangeable educational modules that use photographs, posters, computer animations, simulations, music and video for the Conservation Station, a 22-foot mobile classroom. She was recently honored with Iowa State University’s Outstanding New Professional and Scientific Staff Award.

STEM Champion: Rebecca Whitaker, University of Iowa. Whitaker is a champion of robotics teams. She is Iowa’s FTC Affiliate Partner through the University of Iowa, and Interim Regional Hub Manager for the Governor’s STEM Scale-Up Initiative. She has grown the number of FIRST robotics teams from 2 to 65, and has created opportunities for more than 1,200 students, including girls and underrepresented students, to experience STEM projects.

Collegian Innovation and Leadership: Brittany Oswald, Iowa State University. Oswald, a senior in computer engineering, has earned Dean’s List recognition every semester. As a sophomore, she conducted research on augmented reality interfaces in the Virtual Reality Applications Center. As an intern, she led tours of the Rockwell Collins simulation lab. Last summer, she worked at Boeing, developing software for their training simulators. She co-founded ISU’s Game Development Club, and is active with the Program for Women in Science and Engineering. She also volunteers with kids’ competitions, including the FIRST Lego League Robotics Competition.

Youth Innovation and Leadership: Kellie Einck, South O’Brien High School. Einck has constructed a fully-functioning model of a cow’s stomach out of PVC, and is researching the bacterial and enzyme mixtures that will produce ethanol and methane at harvestable levels. She has won more than 30 awards, including the Air Force, Army, and Navy Engineering awards. She placed first in the FFA State Agriscience Fair, and received honorable mention at the International ISWEEEP competition in Houston. She won the Iowa Energy Scholarship and National Professional Engineers Award at the State of Iowa Science and Engineering Fair. Einck also maintains a 3.97 GPA in advanced placement and college courses.

Finalists and winners were selected by Lilia Abron, CEO of PEER Consultants, PC; Janet E. Phipps Burkhead, Attorney with Dickinson Mackaman Tyler & Hagen PC and a brigadier general with the Iowa Army National Guard; Nan Mattai, Senior Vice President, Engineering and Technology at Rockwell Collins; Gary Scholten, Executive Vice President and CIO at the Principal Financial Group; Michael Sadler, Assistant Vice President – Public Policy and Government Relations, CenturyLink, and David Sengpiel, Senior Investment Manager, Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.