Keenan Wins Technology Association of Iowa Award

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

The Technology Association of Iowa (TAI) yesterday honored leaders in technology, science, and engineering at its second annual Iowa Women of Innovation Awards presentation.  Nine professionals, academicians, and students were awarded with “Women of Innovation” awards.

Receiving the Collegian Innovation and Leadership Award was Alexandra Keenan, a senior majoring in biochemistry, biomedical engineering, and international studies, with a Spanish minor at The University of Iowa. She is currently working on vaccine development to prevent the insidious parasitic infection visceral leishmaniasis, a disease with over 500,000 new cases annually. In 2008, she participated in a social entrepreneurship program in Madurai, India where she produced a model for a community-based cervical cancer screening program for low-income women. She returned last summer to advocate for the program and develop a database to aid in its development, which led to the creation of a hospital. Ms. Keenan was a key part of the award-winning Student Sustainable Design Competition team that focused on the delivery of safe drinking water to developing countries.

UI Engineering finalists for other TAI awards included Keri Hornbuckle, Robert and Virginia Wheeler Faculty Fellow of Engineering, and professor and departmental executive officer of civil and environmental engineering, for the Research Innovation and Leadership Award; Jennifer Fiegel, assistant professor of chemical and biochemical engineering with a dual appointment in pharmaceutics, College of Pharmacy, and Tonya Peeples, professor of chemical and biochemical engineering and director of Ethnic Inclusion Effort for Iowa Engineering, forAcademic Innovation and Leadership (Post-Secondary); Jenny Puffer (BS 1998 civil engineering) of the Des Moines Water Works; for Government/Non-Profit Innovation and Leadership; and Katie Coates (BS 2003 industrial engineering) of Rockwell Collins, Inc. for Large Company Innovation.

TAI received nearly 70 nominations for these awards, the only ones of their kind in Iowa. Finalists and winners were selected by UI Engineering alumna and keynote speaker Lilia Abron, president of PEER Consultants, PC; Janet E. Phipps Burkhead, Attorney with McKee, Voorhees & Sease, PLC and a brigadier general with the Iowa Army National Guard; Gary Scholten, Executive Vice President and Chief Information Officer at Principal Financial Group; and Michael Sadler, Managing Director of Qwest – Iowa; and David Sengpiel, Senior Investment Manager of the Iowa Farm Bureau Federation.

The Women of Innovation event was supported by Rockwell Collins, the Principal Financial Group, the Iowa Math and Science Education Partnership, and by the Iowa Department of Economic Development.