Astronomer Gillian Wilson Named an ELATE Fellow

One-year fellowship allows fellows to increase personal and professional leadership effectiveness

UC Riverside Astronomer Gillian Wilson was named a fellow of ELATE at Drexel®. iqbal pittalwala

Astronomer Gillian Wilson at the University of California, Riverside has been named a fellow of ELATE at Drexel®, an elite professional development program for senior women faculty in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields.

A professor of physics and astronomy, Wilson is one of only 26 fellows named this year from 23 institutions in the United States and Canada.  The one-year, part-time program focuses on increasing personal and professional leadership effectiveness.  Nominated by UC Riverside Chancellor Kim Wilcox, Wilson will lead institutional research initiatives on campus as she expands her leadership skills during the course of the fellowship.

“I am delighted that my campus has given me this opportunity to learn from some of the most accomplished leaders in STEM in the country,” Wilson said. “ELATE will allow me to expand my professional network, and provide me with skills and training experiences that I would not otherwise have access to. Working with UCR’s Office of Research and Economic Development, I hope to help UCR continue to raise its research profile nationally, and also to inspire more women to take on scientific and academic leadership roles.”

ELATE at Drexel uses strategic finance and resource management to enhance organizational missions. Leaders in the fields of STEM research and leadership development help facilitate the program, giving scientists like Wilson access to a network of exceptional women who bring organizational perspectives and deep personal capacity to the institutions and society they serve.

Sharon Walker, the interim dean of the Marlan and Rosemary Bourns College of Engineering and a former ELATE Fellow, recommended the program to Wilson.

“The ELATE program is a very special one that provides critical skill training to senior faculty in technical fields,” she said. “It helps fill a gap of professional development that most universities do not offer their emerging leaders. Dr. Wilson is a great fit for this prestigious program, and will represent UCR well.”

Wilson’s research is focused on observational cosmology and galaxy evolution. She is the principal investigator of SpARCS, one of the world’s largest and most scientifically-productive galaxy cluster surveys. Today, the Department of Physics and Astronomy is home to a top-tier galaxy evolution program – due, in part, to Wilson’s efforts and contribution. Wilson helped to successfully recruit seven new astronomy faculty to campus since 2011. Also, working closely with Mario De Leo-Winkler, a postdoctoral scholar in the Department of Physics and Astronomy, she has facilitated many STEAM (STEM + Art) projects – musical compositions, experimental plays, and astrophotography picture exhibitions – that bring astronomy and art together.

Currently at the UC systemwide level, Wilson serves as the interim deputy director of the UC Observatories and chairs the UC Observatories Advisory Committee.  At UCR, she chairs the Research and Economic Development Advisory Board and is also co-principal investigator on a recent prestigious NSF Innovation Corps Site grant.  She chairs the Department of Physics and Astronomy’s Graduate Diversity Committee and is also a faculty liaison to UCR’s Out in Science Technology, Engineering and Mathematics (oSTEM) Chapter.

Committed to public outreach and especially to attracting women into the STEM fields, Wilson regularly gives public talks.  Most recently she was the keynote academic speaker at the 2017 Women in Science and Technology conference at UC San Diego.

During the fellowship year, she will join the other ELATE Fellows in spending three weeklong, in-residence sessions at Drexel University, Philadelphia, Penn. The curriculum includes classroom lessons and activities, online instruction and discussion, and on-the- job application at each fellow’s home institution.

“With each new class, ELATE is not only making a difference in the professional lives of participants, but the program is continually expanding the national network of leaders and supporters of women in academic STEM leadership,” said Koren A. Bedeau, the vice provost for academic programs and strategic initiatives at Drexel.

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