Highlighting accomplishments by Case women and efforts that promote a campus-wide culture of equity.


Case Names New Chair of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering

Case Western Reserve University is pleased to announce the appointment of Clare M. Rimnac as chair of the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering. The appointment, made by Interim President Gregory L. Eastwood, is effective July 1, 2007.

Rimnac holds the Wilbert J. Austin Professor of Engineering Chair as well as secondary appointments in the departments of Biomedical Engineering and Orthopaedics. She also serves as the director of Case's Musculoskeletal Mechanics and Materials Laboratories.

"Clare has a strong track record as a teacher, researcher and administrator," said Case School of Engineering Dean Norman C. Tien. "She is highly respected among her colleagues here at Case and by her biomechanics peers around the world. I am extremely confident she will provide great leadership for the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering as it continues to grow and move forward."

Rimnac received her Ph.D. in metallurgy and materials engineering from Lehigh University in 1983. She came to Case in 1996 from the Hospital for Special Surgery in New York City. She was awarded tenure in 2001 and promoted to full professor in 2005. Her current research activities are in the area of the mechanical properties of polymeric biomaterials, the mechanical properties of bone tissue, implant retrieval analysis, and 3D scaffolds for repair of critical-sized craniofacial defects.

Rimnac succeeds Joseph M. Prahl, who steps down after 15 years as chair.

"Joe has had an incredible run as department chair," Tien remarked. "We are thankful for his service, and we are excited to see where he will apply his talents next."

About the Case School of Engineering

A world-class engineering research institution with premier educational programs, the Case School of Engineering is committed to education beyond the classroom, research across disciplines and relationships around the world. Wherever they go, Case faculty, students and alumni consistently lead their fields and benefit society. For more information, visit

Originally posted in the Case School of Engineering News.


Case Western Reserve University names new chair of electrical engineering and computer science

Z. Meral Ozsoyoglu becomes first female chair in school's history

The Case School of Engineering has announced the appointment of Z. Meral Ozsoyoglu as chair of the department of electrical engineering and computer science (EECS) at Case Western Reserve University. Ozsoyoglu also serves as the Andrew R. Jennings Chair of the Computing Sciences. Ozsoyoglu is the first female chair of an engineering department in the university's history.

Ozsoyoglu received her doctorate in computer science from the University of Alberta, Canada, arriving at Case in 1980. She was promoted to associate professor and awarded tenure in 1986 and promoted to full professor in 1992. From 2002 to 2003, she served as associate chair for computer science in the EECS.

She succeeds Norman C. Tien, who in February was named dean of the Case School of Engineering. Tien is confident his replacement will be a success.

"Meral has a great deal of institutional knowledge, but she's not afraid to take some chances and tackle new challenges," Tien said. "I'm confident she'll be a strong leader for the department as it continues to grow."

Ozsoyoglu's primary research is in the areas of query languages and query processing, data models, index structures in object oriented databases, multimedia databases and temporal databases. She has recently been working in bioinformatics.

About the Case School of Engineering

A world-class engineering research institution with premier educational programs, the Case School of Engineering is committed to education beyond the classroom, research across disciplines and relationships around the world. Wherever they go, Case faculty, students and alumni consistently lead their fields and benefit society.

For more information contact Laura M. Massie, 216.368.4442.

Originally posted by Heidi Cool for Case News.


Doctor Saba Valadkhan

Doctor Saba Valadkhan joined Case faculty as an assistant professor in the Center for RNA Molecular Biology in the School of Medicine. She spent her childhood in Iran and attended medical school there. When she was 23, Valadkhan came to the United States to start her graduate study at Columbia University in New York. Recently, Valadkhan was named as the recipient of 2004's Science/American Association of Science Young Scientist Grand Prize for her work with the spliceosome.

Although she is thrilled and flattered by the award,she is very much looking forward to the challenges of being an independent scientist and a principal investigator. She is one of the three women who have received this distinction over the past decade. Valadkhan expresses concern about the widespread underestimation of women in academia and passionately insists that women are primary citizens and not just mothers and wives. Valadkhan is a key example of a woman capable of asserting herself and making significant progress in her scientific field.

Right now, Valadkhan's research team includes three senior members and three undergraduate students. She feels that research on the spliceosome is important because roughly fifty percent of all genetic diseases plus many cancers and neurodegenerative diseases such a certain types of Alzheimers are caused by splicing errors. Valadkhan would like to continue to focus on the spliceosome for the time being, but she would also like to eventually expand her work to other aspects of biological research.

To learn more about Dr. Saba Valadkhan's RNA and spliceosome research, please visit her website here. To read AAAS's extended interview with Valadkhan, click here (site will appear in a new window).

Article and interview by Casey Hicks.


M. Cather Simpson

M. Cather Simpson is currently an associate professor in the Department of Chemistry. Simpson's decision to pursue chemistry was not a life goal. In fact, she was turned off by organicchemistry as an undergraduate at the University of Virginia and took no more chemistry after her second year. She initially intended be a doctor, but undergraduate research in biology led her to research. She traveled to the University of New Mexico to work on her M.D., Ph.D. with a concentration in cell biology. It was while there that she enrolled in the undergraduate physical chemistry course that would change her career plans entirely. The research she was doing was too “encyclopedic” for her taste; it seemed so memorization oriented. Physical chemistry satisfied Simpson's need to understand the molecular-level fundamentals of how things work that her medical research could not. She never returned to medical school.

Professor Simpson and Mary Barkley joined the Case faculty in 1996, though Simpson did not arrive on campus until January 1997.  They were the first female professors in the Department of Chemistry. She feels her involvement in the ACES program has enlightened her about gender biases in the workplace. She is especially appreciative of Virginia Valian's Why So Slow? She is intrigued by the possibility of expanding Title IX to academia and feels that such a reach would be beneficial.

Just recently, Professor Simpson and her team received an instrument grant worth about three-quarters of a million dollars. She co-directs the fledgling Center for Chemical Dynamics, a research and education initiative that she hopes will attract attention from international researchers to local universities and high schools. She also directs the Case Chemistry Scholars Program, a graduate fellowship program in chemistry that targets high quality students, particularly women and those from underrepresented groups in science, mathematics, engineering and technology fields.

M. Cather Simpson's website can be found at this link. Additionally, one can visit her research group's website at this link.

Article and interview by Casey Hicks.


Professor Patricia Higgins

Professor Patricia Higgins has been involved in the field of nursing since 1970. She was inspired to go into this field by those who cared for her father during a serious illness when she was a teenager. She attended the Henry Ford Hospital School of Nursing in Detroit, Michigan, to obtain her nursing diploma. She then practiced nursing in critical care, intensive care, and the emergency room. When asked about why she went into emergency treatment, Higgins conceded that she enjoyed the rush of adrenaline involved with quick care.

Higgins stopped practicing nursing in order to obtain her MSN and Ph.D. in nursing from the Francis Payne Bolton School of Nursing at Case Western Reserve University . When asked if she favored research, practicing, or teaching, Higgins reluctantly paused to ponder the question. She could not select one aspect of her career to define her. Even though she is not involved in emergency treatment anymore, she still considers nursing to be “pragmatic.” The unpredictability in research and development appeals to Higgins just as much as it surprises her.

Right now, Higgins only teaches on the graduate level. She is proud to work with students who are settled into nursing as their goal. As a nurse scientist, she focuses on human behavior. To Higgins, a science has six major parts—curiosity, skepticism, ethics, rigor, planning, and interaction with the public domain.

The future of nursing is only improving, Higgins hopes. Nursing shortages across the United States have been widely reported, but enrollment In the School of Nursing is increasing. Within the next ten years, she predicts that the expected enrollment will be achieved quickly. Beyond Case, she thinks that nursing will experience more autonomy. She also hopes to see a nurse on a space shuttle.

Patricia Higgins's website can be found at this link.

Interview and article by Casey Hicks