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Graduating CNMS Scholars ... support women in STEM

Jada Damond, CENG '20 continues with Environmental Eng PhD

MAY 18, 2020 11:30 AM

UMBC has made great strides in increasing its number of women faculty members in STEM through the ADVANCE program. Now, through the CNMS Scholars Program, these women are serving as mentors to the next generation of scientists and engineers committed to the advancement of women in STEM. The CNMS Scholars program is specifically designed to boost the representation of women in STEM fields that haven’t reached gender parity, from physics and bioinformatics to chemical engineering.

This spring, five women will graduate from UMBC as CNMS Scholars, including Olivia Norman ’20, physics, and Jada Damond ’20, chemical engineering. ...

Damond worked with Jennie Leach, an associate professor of chemical, biochemical, and environmental engineering (CBEE), and a member of UMBC’s 4th ADVANCE cohort.

CNMS Scholar Jada Damond is also heading to an exceptional Ph.D. program—UMBC’s program in environmental engineering. This offers her a chance to continue research she is committed to moving forward. 

Through the CNMS Scholars program, Damond realized the value of mentorship and a community of support. “I gained a really powerful network, and I learned a lot more about the opportunities the campus has to offer,” she shares. In particular, she’s grateful to her program mentor, Jennie Leach, who has offered her both professional and personal support. 

“Dr. Leach facilitated my transition to UMBC’s Ph.D. program by offering advice about the program and sharing her own experiences with getting a Ph.D.,” Damond says.

“It’s been really fun to know Jada first as a sophomore, new to engineering, and now, as a senior entering graduate school,” Leach says. “I am so excited to witness all the great things she will accomplish in her career ahead.”

Damond looks forward to continuing research with Upal Ghosh, professor of CBEE, and collaborators at the Smithsonian Environmental Research Center on methods for better measuring mercury levels in water. She’s passionate about the work, she explains, because measuring mercury is a difficult problem and also an important one to solve to protect human health. 

She’s also grateful for Ghosh’s ongoing support. At the numerous national and regional conferences Damond has attended with the lab, “Dr. Ghosh always makes sure to introduce his students to other professionals in the field relevant to the specific work that they do, so I have been able to broaden my network,” she says. 

On the academic side, Ghosh “is always making sure his students are on track in their studies,” she says. “He was eager to spend time reviewing concepts that were new to me, and would give me resources to point me in the right direction.”

Damond’s goal is to pursue environmental consulting work. She enjoyed tutoring chemical engineering courses and mentoring younger CNMS Scholars so much that she also hopes to find a way to teach throughout her career.

“Tutoring helped to improve my communication skills, as I had to explain concepts in a way that the students would understand, while making sure that they could replicate those explanations,” she says. “It was very rewarding when they left a tutoring session feeling more confident about the subject than they did going in.”

Posted: May 18, 2020, 2:02 PM