6 women from the MSU community and Mid-Michigan honored with the 2021 Inspiration Prize

On February 3, the MSU Center for Gender in Global Context (GenCen) presented six exceptional women with the 2021 Inspiration Award.

The Inspiration Awards spotlight MSU’s Mid-Michigan employees, students and community members who demonstrate inclusive action and influence for gender equality and social justice, according to the GenCen website.

Three award categories have been awarded since 2014: Professional Achievement, Community Engagement and Culture of Empowerment. In 2019, a fourth award was introduced: the Greater Lansing Inspirational Woman of the Year Award.

Three recipients are MSU professors, two are students, and one is a member of the Mid-Michigan community of the Ingham County Department of Health.

Beronda Montgomery, MSU Foundation Professor of Biochemistry and Molecular Biology and Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, received the Culture of Empowerment Award.

“The Montgomery Lab pursues a common research theme of understanding how individuals perceive, react to, and are affected by the environments in which they exist. Primary research is focused on the responses of photosynthetic organisms to external light signals,” according to the page of Montgomery Faculty.

The Culture of Empowerment Award is presented to the woman who has best demonstrated her dedication to the advancement and empowerment of women on campus and in the community through mentorship, programs and other leadership opportunities. , according to the award’s website.

Hui “Cathy” Liu, MSU professor in the sociology department and director of the Family and Population Health Laboratory (FPH), received the Professional Excellence Award.

The Professional Excellence Award represents a woman with unique drive and passion for her career and positively contributes to MSU’s culture of excellence, according to the website.

Liu’s research is guided by “an aging and life course perspective to study the social determinants of population health.”

According to his MSU biography, Liu “focused on the use of innovative quantitative methods to develop, test and promote scientific understanding of marital and family processes related to the health and well-being of the population over the lifespan. “.

Farha Abbasi, assistant professor in the Department of Psychiatry at MSU and recipient of the MSU Community Engagement Award, said in an email that her professional journey so far has been “in a nutshell, relentless, as stand under the scorching desert. sun, withered and naked. ”

Abbasi’s interests are “cultural psychiatry and teaching medical students how to provide culturally appropriate care to Muslim patients.” She works directly with the American Muslim community to encourage integration rather than isolation from mainstream society, ”according to her professor page.

As a mental health care provider, Abbasi has come to realize the stigma and shame that silences mental illness.

“I knew that to take this I had to go into the trenches and once I do, there will be no turning back,” Abbasi said. “It was a 15 year journey of personal loss and professional sacrifice and now at last I am starting to see an oasis.”

The Community Engagement Award represents women who demonstrate a commitment to engage and advance communities and organizations at MSU and in the greater Lansing community through service / volunteerism, leadership and / or another implication, according to the website.

Linda Vail, a Mid-Michigan health worker with the Ingham County Department of Health, is also a recipient of the Community Engagement Award. Vail provides department leadership for performing local health department functions such as environmental health, communicable disease control and a variety of maternal and child health and health promotion programs and networking with centers community health centers with federal health center status, she said. LinkedIn.

The history of the Inspiration Awards is relatively recent, as 2014 was the year that Lydia Weiss, Education Program Coordinator at MSU Women’s Resource Center, created the Inspirational Woman of the Year award.

The award was developed “in response to the low number of women nominated and receiving university-wide awards,” according to the GenCen website. After the official closure of the Women’s Resource Center, GenCen took on the responsibility of managing the award.

GenCen honored two MSU students with their student leader titles: Taylor Belyea, Social Relations and Policy Officer, and the other, Biosystems Engineering graduate student, Chelsie Boodoo.


Boodoo said in an email that she obtained her BSc in Biomedical Engineering from Florida International University and then moved to East Lansing to pursue her doctorate.

Boodoo has been raising awareness throughout his college career, advocating for women and girls in STEM. For example, she mentored young women at the start of their scientific careers to help guide them on their journey.

Boodoo focused on professional development during her college career, where she enjoyed honing her Science Communication (SciComm) skills. She launched MSU SciComm to increase awareness and training in scicomm at MSU.

Boodoo said she looks forward to her team’s free virtual scicomm conference on March 20 and 21 called Conveyance.

This award shows the community that Boodoo is an advocate for gender equality and social justice. Other women of color who are scientists can see that communities value them, and their efforts are recognized, Boodoo said.

“This award helps me know that I am working to create a better environment for Black, Indigenous and Colored (BIPOC) women to create space and opportunities for them in the future,” Boodoo said.

Additionally, Abbasi also said that this award is important for female staff and faculty at MSU for representation in STEM.

“Representation is important,” she said. “A woman who creates it sets the stage for many others. For me, it’s never about accolades, but these awards are essential to help shine a light on my work. I feel seen, heard and resurrected.

This article is part of our edition of the Spring Housing Guide. Read the full issue here.


Share and discuss “6 women from the MSU community and Mid-Michigan honored with the 2021 Inspiration Prize” on social networks.