Maria Chrysochoou, professor and department head at the University of Connecticut department of civil and environmental engineering, was one of 14 women honored at the 26th Annual Connecticut Women’s Hall of Fame Ceremony Monday.
“This year’s inductees represent the groundbreaking work that inspires not only us here in Connecticut but on a global scale,” CWHF Chair Sandra Vigliotti Senrich said.
The celebration’s theme, “Women: A Force for Nature,” honors the women chosen for their groundbreaking work in the field of environmental conservation and sustainability.
“I am thrilled and so happy I get to share this moment with my family,” Chrysochoou said. “We live to fight another day, and I think that a key ingredient to success is persistence. I have never given up on a goal and left something unfinished because of difficulty.”
Along with this honor, Chrysochoou is also the first female department head at UConn’s school of engineering.
“The most important aspect of all of this to me is that I get to be a role model for our students and young girls,” Chrysochoou said. “I always tell them that I didn’t see myself as someone who would be the first anything when I was 15 or 20 or 25. If you don’t see yourself as leader now, it can happen if you work hard and progressively set goals for yourself.”
One of Chrysochoou’s successful initiatives, the Connecticut Brownfields Initiative focuses on the remediation of Connecticut brownfields as well as work force deployment and community support.
“I am very proud of what we have accomplished with the CT Brownfields Initiative,” Chrysochoou said. “This is a program that empowers students, gives them real life experience and directly helps local communities. The impact is real and I get to see that every day.”
Moving forward, Chrysochoou said she is excited to work for the next five years on a project using a grant from the National Science Foundation.
“Our department just received a $2 million grant from the National Science Foundation to transform our programs and embrace neurodiversity, empowering students with different strengths and skill-sets to make the most of their education and creativity,” Chrysochoou said.
For other females studying or hoping to study engineering, Chrysochoou said that now is the time.
“I say that this is a great time for women in science and engineering,” She said. “We have more and more opportunities to step up and infuse the profession with passion and creativity. And I also say, come to UConn, this is a great place to thrive.”
Thumbnail photo courtesy of UConn’s School of Engineering Facebook page.
Editor’s Note: A previous version of this story listed Chrysochoou as the UConn Physics Department head. The story has been updated to reflect the correct department.
Naiela Suleiman is a campus correspondent for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.