Colorado State Women’s Caucus Honors Two Scientists for Their Contributions as Role Models to Women

Two Colorado State scientists will be recognized March 23 for their outstanding contributions to women on campus. The Academic Faculty and Administrative-Professional Women’s Caucus will honor Carol Blair and Diana Wall, who each will receive a $1,000 stipend, at a ceremony from 3:30-5:30 p.m. March 23 in the Longs Peak Room of the Lory Student Center. The event is open to the public.

Blair, who served for 11 years as chairwoman of the microbiology department, and Wall, associate dean for research in the College of Natural Resources, exemplify the goals of the award with the universitywide scope of their activities and their contributions as role models to faculty, administrators and students.

Both women are internationally recognized scientists. Blair, a virologist, a council delegate for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, is a member of the executive council of the American Committee on Arthropod-borne Viruses and serves on peer review panels for the U.S.

Department of Agriculture and the National Research Council. Wall, a plant pathologist by training, is an AAAS Fellow and president of the Ecological Society of America.

Blair, who led the microbiology department from 1988 to 1999, also has served a three-year term on the Task Force on the Status of Women and was assistant dean for the College of Veterinary Medicine and Biomedical Sciences. In supporting her nomination, Dean James Voss of the College said he appointed her as the first female department head in that college in 1988. "She took over a department that was male-dominated and struggling administratively," he said. "She has developed the department into one of the premiere units at the university." Voss praised her ability to carry a heavy administrative and research load and her strong commitment to undergraduate advising. She has twice been honored with the Cermak Advising Award.

Blair said she has worked persistently during her 24 years at Colorado State to overcome dynamics that block promotion and progress for women. "I really believe that I’ve begun to convince the men who make the decisions that they should notice our good works and give us our just rewards," she said. "Women have been recognized as fully contributing faculty members who are capable of excellent research as well as teaching and advising."

Wall’s nominators emphasized that she, too, breaks down barriers to women’s progress in science. Wall also is director of the Natural Resource Ecology Laboratory, an international ecosystem research center of 25 scientists. She has served on international initiatives for groups such as Biosphere 2 and is chairwoman of the DIVERSITAS International Biodiversity Observation of 2000-2001.

Dr. Gina Adams, NREL research associate, said in her nominating letter that Wall has created an environment at Colorado State and in such far reaches as Antarctica where women can realize their potential and even exceed their expectations.

Five female scientists in Wall’s research team, who supported her nomination, said "She leads by example, demonstrating that by hard and skillful work it is possible to break through the glass ceiling.’"

Her male colleagues, A.A. Dyer, dean of the College of Natural Resources, and Alan Covich, professor of fishery and wildlife biology, also recognize her ability to maintain her multiple roles. "She really has two full-time positions, yet she still finds time to help students and colleagues with thoughtful suggestions and assistance," Covich said.

"Ultimately, I believe my work has encouraged women at Colorado State to develop goals based on interests and skills," Wall said, "especially in traditionally male-dominated areas of science and academia, and to welcome women into positions of responsibility and leadership."