Illinois Tech Professor Joins National Program for STEM Faculty from Underrepresented Backgrounds

Illinois Tech Professor Georgia Papavasiliou joins IAspire Leadership Academy, a program aimed at helping STEM faculty from underrepresented backgrounds ascend to leadership roles at colleges and universities.

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Georgia Papavasiliou

CHICAGO—September 9, 2021—Georgia Papavasiliou, Professor of Biomedical Engineering in Armour College of Engineering at Illinois Institute of Technology (Illinois Tech), was today named a fellow in the third cohort of the IAspire Leadership Academy, a leadership program aimed at helping STEM faculty from underrepresented backgrounds ascend to leadership roles at colleges and universities. 

The academy is one pillar of diversity and inclusion work underway through the Aspire Alliance (formally known as the National Alliance for Inclusive & Diverse STEM Faculty). The National Science Foundation-backed alliance is working across post-secondary institutions to develop more inclusive institutional cultures to create a more inclusive and diverse STEM professoriate. 

Georgia Papavasiliou, is also Associate Chair of Undergraduate Affairs in the Department of Biomedical Engineering and Director of the Polymeric Biomaterials and Cell and Tissue Engineering Research Laboratory at Illinois Tech.  Her laboratory’s research focuses on repair and regeneration of damaged and diseased tissue through the development of novel implantable hydrogel scaffold biomaterials for targeted tissue regeneration and topical and injectable nanoparticle formulations for controlled release of medications. 

“Georgia is a leader in her field,” said Chair of the Department of Biomedical Engineering John Georgiadis. “Her research focuses on timely issues in biomaterials design, employs clever synthesis to prepare and systematic analysis to characterize the new  biomaterials, and addresses the control of relevant biological responses. This methodology is critical for developing novel therapeutic interventions in most tissues of the human body, and has been applied for the digestive tract and cardiovascular system.”

Georgia has previously been awarded an Innovative Research Grant from the American Heart Association for her project, established to support highly innovative, high-risk, high-reward research at the national level that could ultimately lead to critical discoveries or major advancements that will accelerate the field of cardiovascular research. Her research laboratory has also been funded by  the National Institutes of Health.  This includes various projects focused  on the development of novel implantable biomaterials that promote regeneration of osteochondral defects as a minimally invasive treatment for osteoarthritis and mucoadhesive nanoparticles for delivery of phosphates to the gut to suppress the virulence of pathogens that impair intestinal healing.

“I am so pleased that Georgia has been selected to participate in this innovative leadership-development program ,” said Ken Christensen, Carol and Ed Kaplan Dean of Armour College of Engineering at Illinois Tech. “Armour College is committed to inclusive excellence in all aspects of its mission. Supporting the development and diversification of our current and future leadership is a critical element of this commitment.”

“We’re excited that so many institutions were able to support the participation of emerging STEM leaders from underrepresented groups in the third cohort of the IAspire Leadership Academy,” said Howard Gobstein, Director of the Aspire Alliance and Executive Vice President at the Association of Public and Land-grant Universities (APLU). “More than ever, we see the need for institutions to cultivate and support diversity in faculty and university leadership, and this year’s class of fellows will be well positioned to advance these goals.”

“It is an honor to provide this leadership development opportunity to so many current and rising leaders from across the country,” said Rochelle Sapp, IAspire Leadership Academy Director and Leadership Development Specialist in the Office of Learning and Organizational Development at the University of Georgia. “Advancing diverse and under-represented groups of leaders in STEM higher education is critical to the success of higher education and society, especially providing these leaders opportunities to focus on their personal leadership skills, goals, and style. We are also hopeful about the power of community among the fellows to create a lasting foundation of mutual support to advance their ongoing development and success.”

The leadership academy provides professional development for academic leaders from underrepresented groups so they can aspire to and succeed in more senior leadership roles, thus broadening participation in academic leadership. Fellows will learn effective executive leadership skills for increasingly complex higher education environments as well as strategies for influencing institutional transformation in their current and future leadership positions. 

The academy is targeted at mid-career individuals from traditionally underrepresented groups interested in serving in college or university leadership roles in STEM fields. The 27 participating faculty and administrators were selected through a competitive, holistic review of their applications. Learn more about the IAspire Leadership Academy on the Aspire Alliance IAspire Leadership Academy site