Three Books that Changed my Life as a Female Professor in Academia

It’s an unfortunate but well-documented fact that bias against women is rampant in the professional world (not just academia). Although I have been more fortunate than many of my female peers in this regard, I have certainly experienced this, mostly in little ways, though occasionally in jaw-droppingly big ones. Two examples will suffice. As a grad student in the early 1990s, a PI of a neighboring lab told me, “Women shouldn’t try to do science because to be successful, you need a wife.”  Sadly, this type of thinking is not ancient history. A few years ago, I was slated to give a major talk at a prestigious conference alongside two men. Upon seeing the program, a senior individual at my institution said, “I see that you are the X-chromosome invitation.”  Importantly, men are not the only perpetrators of such bias; women are just as likely to negatively judge other women and unconsciously reward or favor men.


As we prepare for our annual scientific meeting in Hawaii ( it is important to recognize the efforts of the organizing committee, chaired by James Turkson (Cedars Sinai Medical Center), to assemble a diverse scientific program with cutting edge research. For many of us, this will be our first in-person scientific meeting since the start of the COVID pandemic and will be an opportunity to reunite with international colleagues. The ability to hold this meeting in parallel with ILC4 and the Interferon lambda community workshop highlights the continued interest in cytokine biology. This is reflected in the overwhelming levels of sponsorship support that have been provided by our partners from biotech, pharma, scientific vendors, and foundations. This sponsorship has allowed the ICIS to provide 100 travel awards for trainees – an unprecedented recognition of the number and quality of abstracts submitted. ..


As my official term as ICIS President started in October of 2021 I’d like to offer a special thank you to Sarah Gaffen (President-Elect), and Joan Oefner and Elizabeth Gray, who manage the affairs of the society for the support they have already shown. Thank you also to the ICIS Council, and all of the dedicated individuals who serve on our committees for their ongoing service. Thank you to Simon Jones and his co-organizers for taking on the challenge of our first “hybrid” meeting, and for organizing a wonderful program for the 2021 meeting in Cardiff. Of course, the inspirational leadership and patience shown by outgoing President Kate Fitzgerald over the last two years has provided a template for the society and helped to set our priorities.


It has been an honor and privilege to serve as President of the ICIS. I want to express my gratitude to you all for your membership and the continued success of our conferences.
It has certainly been a unique time to lead the Society over the last two years. It seems in many ways, a seismic shift has occurred in all aspects of our lives, changing the way we live, work, and commune with each other. Yet despite the challenges, we see the progress and effectiveness of COVID-19 testing, vaccines that have been widely administered in the United States, Europe and around the world, and the hope of vaccines for young children and boosters on the horizon. The work of many of you has helped to continue to inform the response and treatments for this insidious virus. With variants continuing to surge, your work remains critically important as we continue to combat this and other emerging viruses in the future.