Kirsten Hokeness
Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D., Chair, Department of Science and Technology, welcomes guests to "Perspectives on Addiction: A Panel Discussion by Women in Science" on April 1.
Women's panels in Science and Technology spotlight important issues and opportunities
Apr 02, 2019, by Staff Writer

SMITHFIELD, RI – With a Bryant University education comes the tremendous power of Bryant’s close-knit community, connecting students to thousands of role models and potential mentorsfrom distinguished alumnae and industry experts, to world-class faculty and accomplished staff. A Bryant education goes beyond the traditional classroom to educate and inspire students.

On April 1, Bryant hosted two panels focusing on Women in Science and Technology. Students learned from leaders and scholars in science, healthcare, and information technology who shared valuable perspectives and expertise in their fields.

"Perspectives on Addiction": a panel discussion

The Women in Science panel discussion, “Perspectives on Addiction,” featured prestigious panelists representing multiple facets of science and healthcare, and how they work to understand and combat addiction in fields where women are typically underrepresented. 

The panelists were: Dr. Karla Kaun, Robert and Nancy Carney Assistant Professor of Neuroscience, Brown University; Dr. Lynne Sweeney, Attending Physician at Rhode Island and The Miriam Hospitals, Assistant Professor of Clinical Emergency Medicine, Brown University; Dr. Christy Capone, Assistant Professor of Psychiatry and Human Behavior, Providence VA; and Wendy Buja, PA-C, Director of Didactic Education, Clinical Assistant Professor, Bryant University PA Program.

“We are excited to bring together women in the field from different facets of healthcare: a researcher, psychologists, an MD, and a PA, who can discuss addiction and the opioid crisis from their perspective. It’s a great time to highlight women in science and hear what it’s like to be a woman in a field that is typically dominated by males."

The Departments of Science and Technology and Psychology co-sponsored the event with leadership from Department of Science and Technology Chair Kirsten Hokeness, Ph.D., an expert in human health and disease, and Department of Psychology Chair Joseph Trunzo, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts on the psychological management of chronicle medical illnesses such as cancer and Lyme disease, as well as mood and anxiety disorders.

Psychology/Biology double major Colby Norris ’19, who moderated the panel, said “Bryant as a whole is a very supportive community and it’s nice to see everyone come together to support women in the [science] field.”

“We are excited to bring together women in the field from different facets of healthcare: a researcher, psychologists, an MD, and a PA, who can discuss addiction and the opioid crisis from their perspective,” said Hokeness. “It’s a great time to highlight women in science and hear what it’s like to be a woman in a field that is typically dominated by males."

After the discussion on opioids and addition, participants were interested in hearing what they enjoy most about their job, what it’s like to be a woman in the field, and sought out general career advice. “Don’t feel the pressure of a ticking clock,” offered Sweeney. “If you feel a fire to do something, don’t refrain because of how long it will take. Your life won’t stop while you’re on the journey. If you want to do something, go for it."

Women in technology

At the Women in Technology panel, current and former technology executives at Fidelity Investments shared their experiences in traditionally male-dominated technology roles, and offered advice for students looking to forge their own paths to career success. 

“We started the club to promote the participation of women in technology, to break down the stigma of what it means to be in the industry,” said Kate Fallon '19. “We wanted to change the mentality and emphasize the role of women in technology,” added Cayla D’Amico '19.

Seniors Kate Fallon and Cayla D’Amico, both Data Science majors and roommates, founded the Women in Technology club this semester, with guidance from faculty advisor Suhong Li, Ph.D., who chairs the Department of Information Systems and Analytics. A beloved Professor, Li was named 2017 Computer Educator of the Year by the International Association for Computer Information Systems (IACIS). 

“We started the club to promote the participation of women in technology, to break down the stigma of what it means to be in the industry,” said Fallon. “We wanted to change the mentality and emphasize the role of women in technology,” added D’Amico.

Panelists included Fidelity’s Vice President Terri Argall ‘87, Vice President of Cognitive Computer Solutions Delivery Anita Lane, and Former Director of Project Management Cheryl D’Amico ’82, Cayla’s mother.

In responses to what college students should do to prepare for a career in technology, Argall recommended “Take some psychology courses and expose yourself to as many types of technology as you can.”

Lane added, “Make an effort to understand the tools you have in your toolbox, it’s an important part of your brand and your career. Learn what tools work best in what situations.”

“Surround yourself with people who think differently than you,” added D’Amico. “This is why diversity in the workplace, especially in the technology field, is so important. If everyone thinks like you, you’ll all arrive at the same answer.”

Set for success

For 156 years, Bryant University has been at the forefront of delivering an exceptional education that anticipates the future and prepares students to be innovative leaders of character in a changing world. A Bryant education goes beyond the traditional classroom and allows students to network and learn from the experience of alumnae and industry leaders, who come to campus to share their expertise and inspire students to excel.

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