Celebrating the Education of Women in Science


Saint Mary's Invites the Public to Celebrate the Education of Women in Science

Media contact:
Gwen O’Brien
Director of Media Relations
Saint Mary's College
(574) 284-4579

March 10, 2011 (Notre Dame, Ind.)—With a heritage of nearly 150 years of educating women in science, Saint Mary's College will host a series of events on Saturday, March 26 titled “Celebrating the Education of Women in Science.” All events are free and open to the public and are ideal for students, 7th grade through high school, who are interested in careers in health and science, as well as high school science faculty and professional scientists, nurses, physicians, or others in science related fields. The keynote address will be given by Sharon A. Norton, Ph.D., Director of Development at The Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition. Her talk, titled “The Making of a Scientist” will offer young women a look at her academic path, which led to a rewarding career where she is now helping to eradicate world hunger.

The conference will take place from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. in the Science Hall and Madeleva Hall. The afternoon will end with a major announcement from the College.

“Having educated women in the sciences since the time of the Civil War, we are proud to celebrate our history and our future on this special day. We hope the public will join us as we recognize the many important scientific contributions women have made and will continue to make,” says Carol Ann Mooney, president of Saint Mary’s College.

The day will start at 11 a.m. in the Science Hall. Fourth-year chemistry and biology students will present highlights of the extensive research they completed for their Senior Comprehensives, or “Senior Comps”. A hallmark of a Saint Mary's degree, the Senior Comp is a required project that every student must complete in her major before graduation. Some of the student research takes on solving problems in other parts of the world:

  • Four biology students spent eight weeks on Little Corn Island in Nicaragua last summer to complete their Senior Comps. Two projects focused on improving the quality of the drinking water on the island, while the other two concentrated on surveying the coral reef and the diversity of fish species for possible changes compared to the previous year.
  • Two chemistry students whose Senior Comps look at using paper analytical devices (PADs) as a low-cost method for uncovering counterfeit malaria drugs that can be used without complicated instrumentation.

At 12:30 p.m. in Carroll Auditorium in Madeleva Hall, there will be a panel discussion titled “Life After Senior Comps.” A panel of Saint Mary’s alumnae will talk about their post-graduate accomplishments in a round-table discussion moderated by Nancy Nekvasil, PhD, Chair of the Biology Department. The panelists include recent alumnae from the chemistry and biology programs:

At 1:30 Dr. Norton will give her keynote address. “I will offer up my career in the sciences as an example (mostly humorous and imperfect) and talk about the various experiences that have shaped me,” Norton said of her address. “In doing so, I hope I can help provide a glimpse of the future and the myriad of opportunities that exist for these women as they think about and approach careers in science. The prospects are vast and the outcome is very rewarding spiritually, professionally and personally.”

Norton has more than 18 years of nutritional product and education development. After 12 years in pet nutrition, she joined The Mathile Institute to contribute her in-depth knowledge of nutrition, training, and product development to help children and their families break the cycle of malnutrition. She received her B.S. and M.S. in animal nutrition from Virginia Tech, her Ph.D. in monogastric nutrition from Oklahoma State, and was appointed a Postdoctoral Fellow with the United States Department of Agriculture’s Agriculture Research Service (USDA-ARS) in Beltsville, MD. Her biography can be found at

At 2:15 p.m. Saint Mary’s College President Carol Ann Mooney will have a major announcement to share. The afternoon will conclude with refreshments and a display of archival photographs and artifacts showcasing the history of the Saint Mary's College science programs.

The invitation and campus map are available online.

About Saint Mary’s College: Saint Mary’s College, Notre Dame, Ind., is a four-year, Catholic, women’s institution offering five bachelor’s degrees and more than 30 major areas of study. Saint Mary’s College has six nationally accredited academic programs: social work, art, music, teacher education, chemistry and nursing. Saint Mary’s College ranks among the top 100 “Best National Liberal Arts Colleges” in the U.S. News & World Report 2011 College Guide. Founded in 1844, Saint Mary’s is a pioneer in the education of women, and is sponsored by the Sisters of the Holy Cross.

About The Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition: The Mathile Institute for the Advancement of Human Nutrition, was founded in 2006 by philanthropic entrepreneur Clayton L. Mathile. Leveraging his business acumen, and being moved by his longtime association with Nobel Peace Prize Laureate Dr. Norman Borlaug, an advocate for food security worldwide and the father of the Green Revolution, Mr. Mathile focused his attention on finding a robust approach that works to permanently eradicate world hunger and malnutrition. From this philosophy and passion, the Mathile Institute became a reality. The Mathile Institute brings a lean focus, scientific mindset, and many years of evidence-based nutritional knowledge to bear on the issues of world hunger and malnutrition. The Institute is committed to uncovering nutrition security gaps and challenges, and implementing innovative programs, services and products to diligently, yet rapidly, advance the nutritional health of the world’s children.