WISTEM Center Director
Dr. Judith Iriarte-Gross
Judith Iriarte-Gross is a professor of chemistry and director of the Women In STEM, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, (WISTEM) Center at MTSU. She earned her B.S. and M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Maryland, College Park and her Ph.D. in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of South Carolina. She completed a post-doctoral research project which focused on inorganic polymers at Southern Methodist University. Before joining Middle Tennessee State University (MTSU) in 1996, she worked as a chemist for the FDA and as a chemist and lab manager in the plastics industry.
Dr. Iriarte-Gross volunteered with local Expanding Your Horizons, EYH, conferences in the Dallas-Fort Worth area from 1990 to 1996. After moving to Murfreesboro TN where she joined the faculty at MTSU in fall 1996, Dr. Iriarte-Gross started the first EYH in Tennessee which has served over 8000 girls. EYH introduces middle and high school girls to STEM role models and mentors through hands-on, girls-only workshops. Girls from Tennessee as well as southern Kentucky, northern Alabama and Atlanta Georgia have attended the MTSU EYH. Tennessee will soon be the home to six EYH conference sites: the first at MTSU in Murfreesboro followed by Memphis, Morristown, Maryville, and coming soon to Chattanooga and Gallatin.
Dr. Iriarte-Gross has been a PI or Co-PI on six National Science Foundation, NSF, awards. In 2007, Dr. Iriarte-Gross was awarded an NSF grant titled A Dissemination Project To Increase Girls Raised in Tennessee Science (GRITS). This project provided information for Tennessee girls, parents, teachers and guidance counselors about STEM education and careers. This grant also supported the growth of EYH Conference sites across Tennessee. As a result of her work with GRITS, the National Girls Collaborative Project (NGCP) named Dr. Iriarte-Gross lead of the GRITS Collaborative Project for the state of Tennessee in 2008. In 2009, she was named director of the MTSU WISTEM Center. In July 2014, Dr. Iriarte-Gross and four other STEM faculty at MTSU, were awarded an NSF ADVANCE grant for 2014 to 2016. This study, A Catalyst to ADVANCE the Participation and Advancement of Women in Academic STEM Careers at Middle Tennessee State University, focuses on identifying barriers that affect recruitment, retention, participation and promotion of women STEM faculty at MTSU.
Dr. Iriarte-Gross is nationally known for her advocacy for encouraging girls and women in the sciences. She is involved in local and national programs which support the recruitment, retention and graduation of girls and women in STEM education and careers. For this work, she was a nominee for the 2014 Presidential Award for Excellence in Science, Mathematics and Engineering Mentoring. She was named an Association for Women in Science (AWIS) Fellow in 2009, served as secretary of the AWIS Executive Board in 2011 and is currently co-President of the Tennessee Chapter of AWIS. She represents AWIS on the National Champions Board of NGCP. A former Upward Bound student, she received the TRIO Achievers Award for Washington D. C. in 2010. She is an active member and councilor of the American Chemical Society (ACS) and serves on the Nashville (ACS) Local Section Women Chemists Committee. In 2016, after serving for twelve years on the national ACS Women Chemists Committee, she was appointed to the ACS Committee on Minority Affairs. In 2014, she was named to the ACS Leadership Advisory Board in recognition of her work with girls and women in STEM and in 2016, was named an ACS Fellow. She is an at-large member of Iota Sigma Pi and President of the MTSU Sigma Xi Chapter. In May 2014, she received the first Athena International Leadership award by Rutherford CABLE. She was named a Woman of Influence by the Nashville Business Journal in 2015. She is the faculty advisor of the MTSU Women In Science and Engineering (WISE) student organization and WISE Living and Learning (residential) Community. She was recently recognized by the Tennessee Science Teachers Association as the 2016 Science Educator of the Year for Higher Education.
Dr. Iriarte-Gross is a native of Washington D. C. She lives in Murfreesboro with her husband, Charles and their two cats, Buffy and Lola.