Cal State L.A. chemistry professor recognized for inspiring women in STEM

Krishna Foster

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine has presented Cal State L.A. Professor Krishna Foster a “100 Inspiring Women in STEM Award” for encouraging and inspiring young women to pursue careers in science.  

Foster and other award recipients are featured in the September, 2015 issue of INSIGHT Into Diversity, which is considered the oldest and largest diversity magazine and website in higher education.

“I am so honored to receive this award,” said Foster, who lives in Altadena. “It makes the long time I’ve spent developing pathways for inclusive STEM education worth it. I do what I do because being a scientist is a whole lot of fun.”

An advocate for women and minorities in STEM, Foster serves as associate director for the Minority Opportunities in Research (MORE) Programs at Cal State L.A., which is an umbrella organization for programs funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health.

In its most recent listing, the National Science Foundation ranked Cal State L.A. as the top baccalaureate institution of origin for Latino science and engineering Ph.D. recipients among all undergraduate and master’s colleges and universities in the continental U.S. Our MORE alumni are the largest contributors to this ranking.

Over the years more than 100 Cal State L.A. alumni have earned their Ph.D.s and are in postdoctoral fellowships, industrial laboratory positions and faculty appointments.

In the past decade between 70 percent of MORE undergrads and 85 percent of MORE master’s students have entered Ph.D. programs at universities such as the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, UCLA and UC San Diego – Scripps.  

The 100 women who received the award make a significant difference in STEM fields through mentoring, teaching, and research, said Lenore Pearlstein, publisher of INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine.

Foster has mentored many high school, undergraduate and graduate students in directed research experiences. Many have been accepted into master’s and doctoral programs. As the principal or co-principal investigator of numerous grant-funded research projects, Foster has provided laboratory and research opportunities for students at the University.

“Our sincerest congratulations to Dr. Foster and Cal State L.A. on receiving this prestigious honor,” Pearlstein said. “She is truly an inspiration to all of us who are working so diligently to make a difference in the lives of all women and other underrepresented individuals.”

Foster is an active contributor to the Black Faculty Caucus, a personal sponsor of the annual One Love dinner presented by the Pan African Student Resource Center, and a board member for the Center for the Study of Genders and Sexualities at Cal State L.A.

In 2007 Foster was honored with a Cal State L.A. Distinguished Women award. The HistoryMakers, an organization that chronicles African American notables in a video archive, conducted an interview with Foster in 2009.

Through the American Chemical Society's Project SEED, Foster has served as a research mentor and hosted students in her lab. She is also a member of the National Organization of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.

Foster is currently investigating the effects of sunlight on pollutants at the air-water interface.

Prior to joining Cal State L.A. in 2000, she was a postdoctoral researcher at UC Irvine, examining the impact of sea-salt particles on the oxidizing capacity of the lower atmosphere. Foster earned her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Spelman College in Atlanta and her Ph.D. in physical chemistry from the University of Colorado at Boulder.

“It is my wish that all scholars interested in STEM have a fair opportunity to experience the joy I have received through scientific discovery,” Foster said.

Photo: Professor Krishna Foster of the Department of Chemistry and Biochemistry at Cal State L.A. (Credit: J. Emilio Flores/Cal State L.A.)

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