WiSE Poster Series

Dr. Surya Mallapragada, Iowa State University

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What is your educational background?

All my degrees, undergraduate and PhD are in Chemical Engineering. I received my PhD from Purdue University

What field do you work in and what sort of activities do you do in a typical day?

I am a professor of chemical and biological engineering at Iowa State University. On a typical day, my activities include teaching, doing research, mentoring students, and serving on various committees.

What is your favorite part of your career?

Teaching and doing research.

Who or what experience(s) inspired you?

My parents taught me to believe in myself. They are a huge part of my success. My PhD mentor was another wonderful mentor who inspired me to go into academia.

Why do you think it's important for women to enter STEM fields?

STEM disciplines are very exciting, because the scientific advances you make have a real impact on people's everyday lives. So it is a shame that more women do not realize that and go into STEM fields. For whatever reason, people working in STEM fields are not highlighted a lot in popular media it seems to be dominated by actors playing lawyers, businesspeople, and doctors. I think that we need to do a better job of educating elementary and middle school students about how STEM fields impact lives.   The fact the most STEM fields lead to well-paying careers is an added bonus.

Many women initially pursue STEM careers to make a difference in the world (e.g. make things safer, clean water for everyone, finding cure for cancer, etc...)  Describe how your current work/career/position/company is making a difference in the world or your industry/field.

We are developing new biomaterials that can be used to facilitate nerve regeneration after injury. We are also developing biomaterials for drug, gene and vaccine delivery

Was there an educational experience during college (internship, study abroad, research) that impacted your career goals?

My research experiences as an undergraduate convinced me to go onto to graduate school and pursue a career in research.

What can girls/women do now to prepare for a career in STEM?

Don't shy away from math and science .

Knowing and having experienced all that you have, what is one piece of advice that would have been encouraging or helpful to know when you were in school?

Believe in yourself. Don't doubt your abilities

Learn more about other women featured in the WiSE Poster Series:

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photograph of Mary
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DeDee Smidt Principal Financial
Mary Rukashaza
Pella Corporation
Colleen Becker
Rockwell Collins
Kendra Frazier
Dupont Pioneer

Want more information on finding a STEM career? Check out these links:

For more information contact:

Lora Leigh Chrystal, Director
Program for Women in Science and Engineering
218 Carver Hall
Ames, IA 50011-2060
(515) 294-4317