AAUW Fellow Dr Dior Kelley and AAUW Fellow Finalist Dr Martha Ibore at ISU

February 9, 2021 Presentations


Dr. Dior R. Kelley, Iowa State University Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology, will present information on her research, Stem Cell Regulation via Hormonal and Sugar Signaling.  Prior to coming to ISU in 2015, Dr. Kelley received her Ph.D. in Plant Biology from University of California-Davis and B.S. in Chemistry from University of California-Santa Cruz. She also studied at Salk Institute for Biological Studies and University of California-San Diego.

Along with other team members, Dr. Kelley has been published numerous times. Since coming to Ames, she’s served as an ISU CALS committee member for Diversity, Equity and Inclusion to broaden the participation of groups underrepresented in STEM, mentored undergraduate researchers, developed curricular materials, and instructed undergraduate and graduate students.  Dr. Kelley has previously provided outreach as an instructor for a High School Science Day and more recently developed ‘Botany4Tots’ preschool program (2019-present). She is an AAUW member and 2019-20 AAUW Fellow.


Dr. Martha Ibore, was appointed Postdoctoral Research Associate, Department of Agronomy, Iowa State University (2019-Present). Dr. Ibore will present on her research, Genes and Gene Networks Controlling Leaf Angle in Sorghum Bicolor. Her appointment with Dr. Salas Fernandez is 100% research, and her current projects are studying the genetic control of plant architecture traits of agronomic importance. She also mentors graduate students in the department, mostly in data analysis.

Dr. Ibore’s undergraduate degree in Crop Science is from Makerere University, Uganda (2011) and Ph.D. at ISU in Genetics and Genomics, Plant Breeding (2017). In 2011, she came to ISU as a Visiting Scholar in the Department of Agronomy, was appointed Graduate Research Assistant, Department of Biochemistry , Biophysics and Molecular Biology in 2012-2017, and in 2017-2018 became a Research Technician in Department of Agonomy. Dr. Ibore has continued collaborative research and publication.

Awards include: Iowa State University  Postdoctoral Success Award,  ISU Department of Biochemistry, Biophysics and Molecular Biology, Teaching Excellence Award, and Grandview University Professor Spotlight.

Dr. Ibore is a member of AAUW/AAUW Fellow Finalist, Graduate Women in Science, and American Society for Plant Biologists.

Impact of AAUW Start Smart

Megan Ziemann, Senior in Marketing at Iowa State University

I’ll say it like we’re sitting in group therapy – My name is Megan Ziemann, I’m a senior preparing to graduate magna cum laude with honors this December and I have impostor syndrome.

Impostor syndrome is related to perfectionism. People who struggle with impostor syndrome believe they don’t deserve their achievements. They feel like they’re not as intelligent, competent or as good as others in their field. They worry that, someday, their peers will finally figure out the truth: that they – that I – don’t belong.

I wasn’t able to put a name to what I was feeling until my sophomore year of college, but my impostor syndrome had been existing long before then.

In high school, I questioned my placement in AP classes because I thought my test scores weren’t high enough.

The summer before I entered college, I doubted whether I would make the cut into the ISU Freshman Honors Program because I thought my application essays were subpar.

During my four years at Iowa State, I have genuinely thought I would not get every job and internship I applied for because, deep down, I knew I was unqualified.

The worst part of impostor syndrome is that it’s so hard to write about. Another huge part of impostor syndrome is that people who struggle with it actually do have the knowledge and worth they think they lack. They deserve all their successes.

And writing about my accomplishments makes me feel like I’m bragging.

There’s a systemic reason people like me have impostor syndrome. It’s patriarchy.

Cisgender men are told practically from birth that they are destined to be at the top. Boys are encouraged to speak more at school. Boys’ sports are team-oriented and depend on a mix of competition and cooperation. Fathers tend to work outside the home, and many boys see their father or father figure as a role model for their own future.

Cisgender women don’t have that. We’ve made a lot of advancements since the dawn of the feminist movement, but even in 2020 women and men are not equal. The wage gap is not closing. The glass ceiling is as solid as ever. Every day, women like me are told that we’re going to have to make a choice: do we pursue a career or do we have a family?

If we choose the career route, we’re shamed for not caring about the next generation. We’re told that we’re failing our kids because we take advantage of daycare. We’re labeled as cold, bitchy and bossy. We’re accused of “sleeping around” to earn promotions.

If we choose the family route, we’re shamed for buying into the traditional definition of womanhood. We’re told our intelligence is wasted on our children and partners. If we go back to school to start a career later in life, we’re shamed for that, too.

It’s no surprise that we don’t believe in ourselves. It’s no surprise that impostor syndrome occurs more in women.

Now, let’s not forget that I have a lot of privilege. I’m white, I’m cisgender, I’m heterosexual, I come from a middle class family and I have less student loans than a lot of other people my age.

Everything I’ve talked about regarding impostor syndrome in cisgender women affects BlPOC (Black, Indigenous, and People of Color), people who identify as part of the LGBTQ community and people from a low-income background tenfold. It’s important that we remember our intersections while talking about issues like impostor syndrome. If I were to only talk about cisgender women and our struggles, I would be erasing so many important stories.

To help those stories get told, the Margaret Sloss Center for Women and Gender Equity at Iowa State offers a free Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop. I attended the workshop during the Spring 2020 semester, and as soon as I entered the room, I felt validated, secure and empowered.

Impostor syndrome is not your fault, and you’re not alone. When we constantly think negatively about ourselves, those thoughts start to feel normal. One of the simplest ways to change that negative mindset is to (and it’s easier said than done) think positively.

It’s weird to look back on your achievements and praise yourself, but do it! You’re not bragging. You are worth every word of that praise.

Know your worth. It’s more than you think.

*AAUW Start Smart Salary Negotiation Workshop was established at Iowa State University through an AAUW Action Grant.

Hospitality at Worldly Goods

Hospitality & Fundraiser at Worldly Goods, Nov 7

AAUW Ames will provide hospitality at Worldly Goods on Thursday, Nov 7 from 4-7 pm. The non-profit, fair trade, store inspires social justice, sustainable livelihoods, and environmental resiliency by providing a marketplace for artisans of the world to earn a living wage, support their families, and develop their communities. Artisans from more than 50 countries are represented by products for gifts, apparel, accessories, home decor, fair-trade food, toys, and more.

AAUW Ames will receive a percentage of the sales generated during these hours. Come and meet AAUW members and shop for the holidays ahead.

Location: 223 Main St, Ames

Dr. Dior Kelley is Awarded 2019-20 AAUW Fellowship

Dr. Dior Kelley, 2019-20 AAUW Fellow based at Iowa State Universiity

AAUW announced Dr. Dior Kelley, Assistant Professor in the Department of Genetics, Development and Cell Biology at Iowa State University, has been named as a 2019-20 Fellow. Dr Kelley, a plant development biologist, has been awarded a Research Publication Grant in Plant Development Genetics for the project named Roles of an Auxin-Regulated Myosin in Seedling Development.

She earned earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from the University of California, Santa Cruz (2000) and her Ph.D. in plant biology from the University of California, Davis (2009).

Her laboratory has recently characterized proteins regulated by auxin, a fundamental plant hormone, and nutrient signaling in Arabidopsis. Future work will focus on understanding how internal and external cues are integrated during seedling development to influence plant growth, with a particular emphasis on stem-cell maintenance.

AAUW’s fellowships and grants have been helping scholars and activists like Dr. Dior Kelley for more than 130 years. These awards enable recipients to overcome barriers to education and advancement and to become leaders in business, government, academia, community activism, the arts and sciences.

For the 2019–20 academic year, AAUW is awarding $4 million in fellowships and grants to 259 women and community projects. This funding has a tremendous impact on women and their communities by expanding women’s potential and supporting their future promise.

By easing the pressure of financing academic and community work, AAUW’s awards help women tackle the growing burden of student debt and focus their efforts on the task at hand: developing the skills and experience to excel in their fields and lead innovative community projects to empower women and girls.

AAUW Fellow Olamide Opadokun at Iowa State University

4 Questions for Clean-Energy Expert Olamide Opadokun

April 16, 2019

Olamide Opadokun, a 2018-19 AAUW International Fellow, understands how alienated women can feel when pursuing technical careers. As an undergraduate at The University of Ilorin in Nigeria, she was the only woman among 87 students in mechanical engineering. Now she’s taking the next step in her education as a Master’s candidate at Iowa State University.

“Being a woman in a STEM field, especially in a foreign country, is not always easy,” says Opadokun, whose fellowship is sponsored by the Arconic Foundation. That sense of isolation is one reason Opadokun was eager to mentor two first-year graduate students from other countries. “I started off explaining … what to expect in their academic programs, especially as international students—work load, research, cultural differences and otherwise,” she said.

Opadokun also makes it a habit to acknowledge their good work. “I regularly point out their achievements to show them they deserve to be in graduate school as much as anybody else,” she said. “I am honored to have the opportunity to mentor them because mentoring made a big difference for me when I started my program.” We asked Opadokun to share her insights on her educational journey and research on clean-energy technology.

How did you get interested in mechanical engineering?
When I was taking technical drawing classes in secondary school, I became fascinated by the intricacy and mental challenge of machine drawing. As I learned more, I realized mechanical engineering was right for me. It is the most diverse of the engineering disciplines—allowing career development in many directions.

Tell us about your research.
Roughly 2 billion people around the world rely on what we call “biomass”—including wood, charcoal, animal dung and crop residue—as fuel when they cook. A downside of this form of cooking is that it releases particulates and greenhouse gases into the air that can cause respiratory disease and harm the environment. It can also raise security concerns for the women and girls who must venture outside to gather these materials.

In my research, I am breaking down the cooking process into components to look for possible improvements. For example, I’m evaluating whether using lids or varying food quantities can bolster efficiency—which would translate to less biomass consumed, better air quality, and more time for women and girls to pursue their educational and financial goals.

What was the greatest cultural challenge of adapting to life in the U.S.?
Coming from a place where explicit communication is the norm, I sometimes struggle with how to interpret nonverbal cues. Because American society is sensitive to offending people, I often get the sense that people hold back in conversations. As a result, I have had to figure out a lot on my own—no easy feat in a new environment. It’s been a learning process, and sometimes I find myself wishing for the candor I’m accustomed to.

April 22 is Earth Day. Why is clean energy so critical to ensuring a healthy planet?
More than ever, people can see that climate patterns are changing. Adopting clean energy technology might not fix all the problems, but it can prevent further damage. It is our responsibility to care for the Earth, so we can pass along a healthy planet to future generations. Everyone can do something, whether it’s using solar panels or turning off lights and devices they’re not using.

By: Christina Folz | Issue: Leadership | Tags: Fellowships and Grants, Following the Fellows |

Teaching Social Studies in Culturally Relevant Ways

Noreen Naseem Rodriguez, Assistant Professor, ISU College of Human Sciences, School of Education

Growing up in Texas, Noreen Naseem Rodriguez wondered why there weren’t people like her in school textbooks. Rodriguez will explore the topic of cultural diversity in children’s literature at AAUW Ames meeting on Monday, November 26, 7:00 pm at the Ames Public Library, PEO Room.

“I went through 20 years of schooling and I never learned about the history of Asians in America,” said Rodriguez, who is half-Pakistani and half-Filipina — or what she affectionately calls Pakipina. “Even though it’s my racial background, because I never learned about it in school, I never had access to it.”

Rodriguez aims to change that for other students of color. In 2017, she joined the Iowa State University School of Education as an assistant professor in elementary social studies education.

She said many students find social studies boring because it tends to be disconnected from their own experiences, and often boils down to a memorization of dates and people. Teaching social studies this way misses an opportunity to provide children with a foundation in civic education, she said. Rodriguez instead uses children’s books as a tool to teach the difficult histories of people of color in the United States — and engage students in culturally relevant and sustaining ways.

“I believe social studies education should be inclusive of the many groups and cultures in our democracy,” she said. “It should provide students with access to curriculum that critically addresses our country’s complicated past and present in regard to race, class, gender, immigration, citizenship, language, and religion, and examines the politics of representation and belonging.”

How teachers’ experiences inform teaching social studies

As Rodriguez explored the history of Asian-Americans, she was fascinated to find how much she didn’t know. She learned that the first Filipinos landed in Morro Bay, California, in 1587 — before the Pilgrims landed in Cape Cod. She also learned about laws that prevented Filipino men from marrying white women.

“We talk about school segregation as if it’s a black-white issue, but it was so much more than that,” she said.

Her efforts to enact change were recognized earlier this year when she received the OZY Educator Award from OZY, an international online magazine that focuses on news, arts, culture, politics, business, and sports.

Aside from working directly with students, Rodriguez studies current and future teachers of color — specifically Asian-Americans and Latinos — and how their experiences inform their social studies pedagogy, or method of teaching.

Her dissertation at the University of Texas at Austin examined how Asian-American elementary teachers enact difficult histories such as the Japanese-American internment during World War II. She found that teachers’ approaches to discussing race, citizenship, and injustice varied widely.

“Although each teacher recognized the importance of teaching Asian-American narratives, they displayed a range of discomfort and unease with broader issues of race, citizenship, and injustice,” she said. “This research demonstrates the importance of counter-stories and reconstructive history with children and in teacher education.”

Rodriguez was selected to receive the 2017 Larry Metcalf Exemplary Dissertation Award from the National Council for the Social Studies for that dissertation. She presented her research and received her award in November 2017 at the council’s annual conference in San Francisco, before more than 3,000 of her colleagues.

Bilingual teacher in Texas

Rodriguez brings nine years of experience as an elementary bilingual teacher in Texas to her job at Iowa State. She also taught eight sections of elementary social studies methods courses at the University of Texas at Austin to future bilingual teachers and those seeking English as a Second Language (ESL) certification.

Her research includes participating in the Tejano History Curriculum Project, an effort to create curriculum that centered on the experiences of Tejanos, or Mexican-Americans living in southern Texas, who are largely invisible in state historical narratives.

“I urge my undergraduates to think critically about the ways in which marginalized groups are represented in official curriculum and how to better engage young children in social studies that are culturally relevant and more demonstrative of our pluralistic society,” she said.

Rodriguez joins a team at Iowa State that includes assistant professor Katy Swalwell, who also aims to tell the history of people whose stories don’t often get told. The School of Education also offers a graduate certificate in education for social justice.

Isaac Gottesman, an associate professor who led Rodriguez’ search committee, said he has no doubt that Rodriguez will become a leading scholar in social studies education and an important voice in conversations about elementary teacher education, both at Iowa State and nationally.

“Her extensive classroom teaching experience and expertise in justice-oriented social studies curriculum and in bilingual education will be invaluable to our elementary teacher education program as we continue to strengthen our focus on educational equity,” Gottesman said.

“As a thoughtful scholar engaged in sophisticated and significant work, such as on the experiences of Asian-American and Latinx pre- and in-service teachers, Noreen will also contribute significantly to our graduate programs and the broader research mission of the School of Education.” – post by Lynn Campbell, Iowa State University College of Human Sciences, School of Education.

Key Contacts:

Noreen Naseem Rodriguez, assistant professor, School of Education, Iowa State University, 512-294-3265, nrdz@iastate.edu

AAUW 2017 National Convention

Iowa delegation at National AAUW Convention

Justice Sotomayor at Convention

AAUW Iowa lobbyists at the United States Capitol

Former Iowa AAUW Presidents Diane Patton, Mary Ann Ahrens and Maxine Lampe at 2017 Convention

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