International Day of Women and Girls in Science

We are proud to celebrate the successes and accomplishments of all Women and Girls in Science and in particular shine a light on the Women in the Aeronautics and Engineering field. 

February 11th marks International Day of Women and Girls in Science. Our women leaders inspire young girls to do the impossible. One hundred years ago, women had just earned the right to vote and now women are leaders in many of the male-dominated fields, including aeronautics and engineering. This is not to say that it does not come without challenges, but each challenge is met with success - even if it looks different than had originally been planned. 

"Unique solutions", "careful considerations", and "dedication to the needs of faculty, staff, and students" are some of the attributes used to describe a few of the very women leaders in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. 

We invite you to refer back to this page on Thursday, February 11th to understand and explore the accomplishments of boundary-breakers in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering. 

The International Day of Women and Girls in Science is observed on February 11th. This date recognizes the critical role and women and girls play in science and technology, globally. The United Nations General Assembly adopted this resolution on December 22, 2015, and was implemented by UNESCO and UN Women, in collaboration with other civil society partners and intergovernmental agencies. This resolution welcomes the efforts of the United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization, the United Nations Entity for Gender Equality and the Empowerment of Women (UN-Women), the International Telecommunication Union, and other relevant organizations in supporting women scientists and in promoting access of women and girls to and their participation in science, technology, engineering and mathematics education, training and research activities at all levels. 

The College of Aeronautics and Engineering is proud to celebrate the successes and accomplishments of all Women and Girls in Science, and in particular, we are proud to shine a light on the Women in the Aeronautics and Engineering field - especially the women leading our college.

Christina L. Bloebaum, Ph.D., Dean and Professor 

Dean Bloebaum joined the College of Aeronautics and Engineering on August 1, 2018.  Prior to joining our CAE family, she served as the department chair of aerospace engineering at Iowa State University. Her knowledge has been cultivated serving in a variety of roles at various institutions including the National Science Foundation, State University of New York at Buffalo, and NASA Langley Research Center. She received her bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in aerospace engineering from the University of Florida. 

Dean Bloebaum's professional affiliations include, but are not limited to, the American Institute of Aeronautics and Astronautics, the American Society for Engineering Education, the International Society of Structural and Multidisciplinary Optimization, and the National Academy of Engineering. She has participated in many opportunities to further develop her knowledge, leadership, and professional skills and has technical interests include multidisciplinary design synthesis, visualization and visual design steering for large-scale optimal design, visualization of multidimensional/multivariate data, concurrent design and engineering, and structural analysis and optimization. In total, her scholarship has lent itself to the continued growth and advancement of the aerospace engineering field. 

Prior to his presidential appointment, Todd Diacon served as Kent State's executive vice president and provost, stating "I am excited to welcome Dr. Bloebaum to Kent State. Her experience building programs at Iowa State University, combined with her leadership of the NASA-sponsored Iowa Space Grant Consortium, have prepared her to lead our College of Aeronautics and Engineering. Under her guidance, we know that our top-ranked aviation program will continue to excel even as we create exciting new engineering degree programs." said in a news release. 

Since joining CAE, Dean Bloebaum has led the college in numerous efforts to support and advance the College's research enterprise, reinforce and strengthen our top-ranked aviation program, and develop new opportunities for engineering - all in the name of our serving our students and community.   

"I have found her to be a visionary.  She has incredible energy and excitement and she comes up with truly novel and exciting ideas.  She is always a delight to work with and understands the importance of the unique synergy between the disciplines of Aeronautics and Engineering.  She is able to help launch our college into new strata, truly knows and understands what is best for our students, and above all -  is a superb Dean. And yes, I do not mind having my office next to hers." - Jason Lorenzon, J.D., Coordinator Aeronautics Program & Assistant Professor, CAE 


During her time thus far she has expanded our educational offerings, of note Kent State's first-ever engineering doctoral degree, a Ph.D. in aerospace engineering, as well as embarking on a capital campaign to expand the Aeronautics and Engineering Building to include a large, 100-student lecture hall, simulation lab spaces for computer engineering and cybersecurity engineering students, as well as additional research and teaching labs and offices. 

Her college leadership has been instrumental to the success and achievement of CAE during the last two and a half years, including leading us through a global pandemic. 

"Dr. Bloebaum came to us as Dean of the College in August 2018 as the result of a national search.  She was selected from a slate of truly outstanding candidates with extensive experience in the administration of collegiate engineering and aeronautics programs.  Having just completed our new FedEx Aeronautics Academic Center and with our first graduating class coming in aerospace engineering the College was poised for growth.  She led the College through the challenge of transitioning to a broader engineering base while growing the College’s aeronautics program to reach the key milestone of exceeding 1000 students enrolled. The story continues with adding new programs, connecting statewide and more broadly within the industry, expanding our research portfolio, and continued philanthropic support, all against the backdrop of the COVID-19 pandemic, which brought its new set of challenges worldwide.  She worked to apply and build upon her prior experience as a researcher, educator, and leader for the benefit of us all.  Of course, it has included some challenging times, but also and more importantly, some exciting times.  We all are beginning to see a brighter future as the world emerges from the adverse impacts of the pandemic, and we see our students, alumni, industry partners, research collaborators and colleagues at KSU, and a host of other institutions, as benefiting from the College’s growth and development in both the near-term and coming years.  We look forward to continuing to build a future together under her continuing leadership." -Tom Southards, Director of Finance and Operations, CAE 


A true beacon in the night, her strength and dedication to her students, faculty, and staff has been a critical component of operations. 

Joycelyn Harrison, Ph.D., Associate Dean, Research and Faculty Affairs 

Dr. Joycelyn Harrison, a chemical engineering by trade, is an accomplished woman who has made many contributions to the filed of engineering. A true mover and shaker, she is truly a science and history maker. 

Dr. Harrison received her bachelor of science in chemistry from Spelman College in Atlanta, Georgia. She continued her educational journey to Georgia Institute of Technology to earn her bachelor of science in chemical engineering, where she remained as a graduate student completing both her master of science and doctorate of philosophy degrees in chemical engineering. 

Upon degree completion, she continued to build on her accomplishments working at the Advanced Materials and Processing Branch (AMPB) of NASA’s Langley Research Center in Hampton, Virginia where she conducted much of her research in the field of piezoelectric materials, a class of polymers capable of producing mechanical motion when introduced to an electric current and conversely capable of generating an electric charge when subjected to stress. Her research rose to crescendo with participation in the THUNDER project which improved durability, energy efficiency, and production costs by innovating new piezoelectric polymers and enhancing the existing commercial varieties. She moved on to become chief of AMPB in 1999, leading a team of approximately 40 research scientists focusing on polymer composites and ceramics synthesis. 

Dr. Harrison was recognized by NASA for her contributions to the AMPB branch with the Exceptional Achievement Medal in 2000 and the Outstanding Leadership Medal in 2006. In addition, her achievements also span across authoring more than 30 technical papers and holding more than 20 patents in the area of electroactive and nanostructured materials that she invented between 1999 and 2008.  In 2009, Dr. Harrison became the manager of the LowDensity Materials program at the Air Force Office of Scientific Research in Arlington, Virginia, and was later named the Director of the Budget Plans, and Integration Division, where she was responsible for implementing the investment strategy for the $500M basic research portfolio of the US Air Force.

In August 2019, Dr. Harrison joined the College of Aeronautics and Engineering as Associate Dean of Research and Academic Affairs. Her award recognition continued and in 2020, she was selected as a Dominion Energy and Library of Virginia "Strong Woman" in Virginia History honoree. 

During her time at Kent State, she has continued to lead and support faculty research. 

"I had known Dr. Joycelyn Harrison for a year and a half. As a new faculty in the College, Joycelyn has been very welcoming and incredibly supportive of my research and career development. I am fortunate to have worked with her on various grant proposals, where she has provided invaluable feedback based on her background with NASA, NSF, and AFOSR. Joycelyn has been a great mentor and a very personable individual. Wherever she is, there is always a positive and enjoyable environment." - Dr. Ye Lu, Assistant Professor, CAE 


"I’ve been very fortunate to work with Dr. Harrison now for almost two years. As CAE’s Graduate Coordinator, I work very closely with Dr. Joycelyn Harrison in her position of Associate Dean for Research & Faculty Affairs. What I enjoy most is how much we complement each other in our ideas and work in elevating CAE’s graduate program and research productivity. With her extensive government experience at NASA and the Air Force Office of Scientific Research. She is an awesome mentor, and we enjoy bouncing ideas off each other. We ask each other for advice and can get honest feedback. Joycelyn knows how to put things in context." - Blake Stringer, Ph.D., Graduate Program Coordinator & Associate Professor, CAE 


Dr. Harrison has the ability to be honest, insightful, and view the college from a different perspective. Her knowledge and experience is an asset to the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, and she is a valuable member of the CAE leadership team. 

Kelsen LaBerge, Ph.D., Engineering Program Coordinator and Associate Professor 

Dr. Kelsen LaBerge serves the College of Aeronautics and Engineering as the Undergraduate Program Coordinator of Engineering and Associate professor. She joined our community in Fall 2018 as an associate professor of aerospace engineering. 

Dr. LaBerge earned her bachelor of science degree in mechanical engineering from Ohio Northern University. She continued her education by way of successfully pursuing her doctorate of philosophy in mechanical engineering from Case Western Reserve University. 

Prior to joining the Kent State faculty, Dr. LaBerge held a research position with the US Army Research Laboratory as a civilian. In this position, she worked closely with both Army and NASA engineers performing research in the area of rotary-wing drive systems. Her expertise focuses mainly on the areas of mechanical component diagnostics and hybrid (composite/steel) gears. She has also been involved in the build-up of several experimental research facilities and participated as a government reviewer on various technology demonstration programs. 

"I’ve known Dr. LaBerge for 12 years when we both worked at Army Research Lab together. As a government researcher for the Army and NASA, Kelsen conducted experiments to evaluate the structural health of gear systems. I was thrilled when she told me she was looking at the possibility of a career change, and I recruited her to apply to CAE. In only two years, she became the engineering coordinator, which is a de-facto department chair in a college without departments. Kelsen is a great teacher and always looking out for the best interests of our students and our curriculum. I don’t think anyone could perform the engineering coordinator role better." - Blake Stringer, Ph.D., Graduate Program Coordinator & Associate Professor, CAE 


When Dr. LaBerge is not teaching or performing the administrative duties that come with the role of being the engineering program coordinator, she stays busy working to ensure that her students, faculty, and staff equip with the tools and resources to be successful both in - and out of - the classroom (and classroom designated space via remote instruction). 

"A true teacher, a true engineer, and a great colleague.  She works with such tenacity and dedication.  She incredible discipline and she is very diligent.  She has a unique insight to the Engineering Programs, and I really enjoy working with her as the Aeronautics Coordinator.  She really helps everyone to realize the Dean's mission and vision of true synergy.  She is extremely dedicated to her teaching and to her students.  She is always available to discuss matters with her colleagues, she is very approachable and she is very, very supportive.  And yes, I do not mind having my office next to hers." - Jason Lorenzon, J.D., Coordinator Aeronautics Program & Assistant Professor, CAE  


Her professional affiliations include the Vertical Flight Society, Order of the Engineer (2004), and Tau Beta Pi (2003). She has been recognized with the Memorandum of Appreciation from the Deputy Commander of the Army Aviation Applied Technology Directorate in 2010, as well as Case Western Reserve University’s Graduate Dean's Instructional Excellence Award in 2006.  

Dr. LaBerge leads with integrity and respect. She is an asset to the present and future of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering and will continue to build an academically enriching educational experience for all that walk through our doors. 

Maureen McFarland, Ph.D.,  Associate Dean, Academic Affairs 

Dr. Maureen McFarland serves the College of Aeronautics and Engineering as the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs. Having been a member of our Kent State community since 2003, Dr. McFarland has had the opportunity to grow alongside all the changes that CAE has endured. In 2004, Dr. McFarland became an assistant professor of aeronautics in a non-tenure track role and still teaches today in addition to her administrative duties. 

Her experience outside of the classroom is rooted in serving the United States Marine Corps (USMC), concluding her leadership experience in 2015 as a Lieutenant Colonel Commanding Officer of the Combat Logistics Battalion 453. Throughout her USMC tenure, she earned many honors and awards including Meritorious Service Medal (2nd award), Air Medal, Individual Action (3rd Award), Navy and Marine Corps Commendation Medal (2nd Award), Navy and Marine Corps Achievement Medal, National Defense Service Medal (2nd Award), and Armed Forces Expeditionary Medal and the Global War on Terrorism Service Medal. In 2009 she received the Teacher of the Year Award from the Air Force Association Steel Valley Chapter #372, in recognition of outstanding service and significant contributions to teaching, education, the military, the country, and the community.  

Dr. McFarland is an accomplished thought leader with extensive experience empowering individuals and teams to unleash their potential in the higher education space. She is skilled at balancing operational management tactics with department-specific needs to achieve organizational objectives while improving existing processes. She is known to her colleagues and peers as an exceptional communicator, writer, change manager, and strategic planner. 

"Regarding Dr. Maureen McFarland, I have always appreciated the trust she puts in the employees that work with her.  She has always listened to my concerns and gone to bat for our department when necessary.  She recognizes and appreciates the expertise of the employees within our department, and my experience working with her has always felt like a collaborative effort rather than a top-down approach to management. She recognizes the hard work of the employees around her while keeping a “student first” focus at hand - a skill that cannot be learned; you just have to have it." - Joshua Eyring, Director, Aircraft Maintenance, CAE  


Dr. McFarland is equipped with top-notch critical thinking skills utilized to analyze and optimize enrollment, staff/faculty retention, and overall student experiences. She is respected as a proactive mentor with an approachable, genuine presence, and passionate about instilling integrity, inclusivity, and accountability into all workflows to prompt ongoing success. She is a trusted advisor with a forward-thinking approach to program development, management, and improvement through extensive strategic planning involvement. 


"I have had the pleasure of working with Mo for over ten years now and I have always held a high level of respect for her.  She has the unique ability to develop creative solutions for obstacles that immediately address the current situation, while carefully considers the future impacts of those implementation measures.  Mo has a leadership style that makes you want to better yourself in order to help her achieve her goals.  She is passionate about our college’s mission and I attribute a large part of our college’s success to her involvement." - Brian Neff, Director, Flight Training and Operations, CAE  


Working her way through leadership roles in the College of Aeronautics and Engineering, Dr. McFarland is no stranger to hard work and dedication. Serving the United States Marine Corps while simultaneously serving Kent State University, she understands the value of balance - a true yin-yang approach to all that she does. In 2007, she began her administration role as Aeronautics Program Coordinator, then earning greater responsibility as Senor Academic Program Director of Aeronautics from 2008 - 2018, (interim Associate dean from December 2018 - April 2019) where she was then elevated into the Associate Dean of Academic Affairs in 2019. 

The College of Aeronautics and Engineering is proud to have these women in leadership roles, not only because of their awards, achievements, advances in science, but because of their ability to advocate and elevate women and girls, nationally and globally. 

For being the inspiration that invites inquiry,  the faculty, staff, and students of the College of Aeronautics and Engineering thanks you for your service.

Happy International Day of Women and Girls in Science!   

POSTED: Thursday, January 28, 2021 - 6:25am
UPDATED: Tuesday, February 16, 2021 - 2:26pm