Women in STEM Leanne Cribbs, Cell and Molecular Physiology
Empowering female scientists
Leanne Cribbs, PhD, came to Loyola University Chicago in 1993. Her lab specialized in cardiac ion channels, particularly in smooth muscles. She continues to work as a co-investigator on projects studying potassium channels in airway smooth muscles as they relate to asthma. She became director of graduate programs at the Health Sciences Division in 2011, and then was named associate dean for graduate education for the University in 2016. She oversees the Women in Science student group on the Heath Sciences Campus, a group that aims to career advancement opportunities for female graduate students and also help empower the next generation of female scientists.
Why did your interest shift from the lab to working and mentoring graduate students?
Loyola is such a friendly and collaborative place. It’s been a very open environment in terms of offering support with bridge funding and startup funding, which was important to me during my early years here. I also have really appreciated the opportunity to transition into working with the students. Even though I’m not in the lab anymore, I’ve appreciated the opportunity to use the background having been part of that world to help the incoming students and mentor them in a way different than in a laboratory.
Why is mentorship, particularly of female graduate students, so important?
Clearly there is disparity and inequality in salary levels, there’s inequality of women in leadership positions. There’s a lot of attention being given to it now but that attention is really essential to keep making progress. The Women in Science group has done a nice job of both supporting and nurturing their own peers here that provides services and outlets for women in research on this campus and also taking that out to the community and bringing students here. Bringing them here is so much different than going out and doing a demonstration. Letting them see, you do this, see how fun it is.
Someone at my stage or even a faculty member can go out and talk to girls and say you should do science, but seeing young women who are closer to their age that are passionate and enjoy it, it’s so much easier for them to relate and see that they could be doing it.
of STEM jobs nationwide are held by women.