Iowa State researcher among the first class of women rising stars of chemistry

AMES, Iowa - Iowa State University's Malika Jeffries-EL has been named a rising star of American chemistry.

Jeffries-EL, an assistant professor of chemistry, was named one of 10 winners of the WCC Rising Star Award presented by the Women Chemists Committee (WCC) of the American Chemical Society.

The committee says the national award recognizes exceptional mid-career women chemists and is also intended to help keep women in science careers.

"There are more women chemists around than there used to be, but not as many as there should be," said Jeffries-EL, who is studying plastic electronics. "With organizations such as the American Chemical Society and its Women Chemists Committee, there are a lot of resources for support and women are doing a great job helping other women."

The society reports that in 2008 women earned 50 percent of the country's bachelor's degrees and 36 percent of its doctoral degrees in chemistry. The U.S. Department of Commerce also reports that although women make up 48 percent of the U.S. workforce, they hold 24 percent of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) jobs.

"We may be making progress in terms of encouraging women into STEM fields, with higher numbers achieving both bachelor's and doctoral degrees," said Nancy Jackson, the president of the American Chemical Society. "But the actual number of women in mid-career positions continues to decline."

Jeffries-EL and the other winners of the WCC Rising Star Award will be recognized during a March symposium during the American Chemical Society's meeting in San Diego.