In December 2012, the 10th in-person regional Faculty for the Future forum was hosted by the Schlumberger Foundation for 29 women from 18 countries who are pursuing PhD-level or postdoctoral scientific research at 11 host universities across the United States.
These forums for the Fellows are organized two times per year at different locations. Past events have been held in Cambridge, Massachusetts, and at one of France’s leading science and engineering institutions in Paris. Forums are being planned at academic venues in Cambridge, United Kingdom, and in Cape Town, South Africa for 2013.
The gathering provided an occasion for the Fellows to share experiences and present their various research projects in disciplines such as astrophysics, chemistry, and mechanical engineering, as well as strengthen their scientific and academic networks. The women, drawn together from diverse backgrounds, shared a dedication of excellence in research and a commitment to being academic role models who inspire other young women to get involved in the sciences.
Over the course of the two-day event in Houston, Texas, the Fellows visited Schlumberger engineering facilities and met with research staff. The forum started with a thought-provoking opening speech by the vice president of the WesternGeco seismic product line in North America who shared her experiences as a female scientist. A poster session was organized where the Fellows shared their academic experiences as women in science with high school students interested in pursuing similar career paths.
Skill-building working groups provided the Fellows with ideas on how to achieve long-term international collaboration and dissemination of results, how to apply recently acquired knowledge and skills in their academic careers, as well as what it means to be a role model and change agent. Faculty for the Future Alumni at the forum shared their experiences about returning to their home countries and academic careers.
Day two of the forum was hosted at Rice University. Several panel discussions and interactions with accomplished women academics and university administrators from institutions such as Rice University, Texas A&M University, and the University of Houston (UH) helped the Fellows to strengthen their networks and learn more about navigating the challenges of a scientific and academic career.
At a presentation on leadership and communications skills by the director of the Leadership Rice program, the Fellows gained valuable insight on how to communicate technical research more effectively, use setbacks in a positive way, and apply leadership qualities.
Chancellor of the UH System and President of UH Renu Khator, the keynote speaker of the forum, shared an inspirational story about her upbringing in rural India and her dream of pursuing a PhD—and how never letting go of that dream and finding mentors to support and encourage confidence toward a goal is vital. She reminded the Fellows that although the challenges they face will be many, remaining focused on their mission as academics and as role models for other young women who may dream of scientific pursuits will help them to succeed.
Since its launch in 2004, 257 women from 62 emerging countries have received Faculty for the Future fellowships to pursue advanced graduate study in science and engineering at top universities abroad.
The program’s long-term goal is to generate conditions that result in more women pursuing academic careers in scientific disciplines. Grant recipients are expected to return to their home countries to continue their academic careers and inspire other young women to choose careers in science and engineering. The program also has an extended mission to encourage community building through forums, both online and in person.
The Schlumberger Foundation is a nonprofit entity that supports science and technology education. Recognizing the link between science, technology, and socio-economic development, as well as the key role of education in realizing individual potential, the Schlumberger Foundation flagship program is Faculty for the Future.
Faculty for the Future Fellows sharing their research at the poster session.