March is Women’s History Month, so we think it’s the perfect time to recognize several female pioneers of business and technology in Little Rock. These women have had a tremendous impact on the entrepreneurial and STEM communities both locally and within their respective fields all the while overcoming significant barriers as they challenged gender stereotypes and the status quo.
Dr. Nancy Gray - Director of UAMS BioVentures
Dr. Nancy Gray has more than thirty years of experience in medicinal chemistry research, management of pharmaceutical research and development, and business operations. She came to UAMS from the Southern Research Institute in Birmingham, Alabama, where she was vice president for corporate development. Before working at the Southern Research Institute, Dr. Gray served in executive roles at Beijing Med-Pharm Corporation, VaxInnate Corporation, and Elan Corporation.
Dr. Gray’s research work on central nervous system diseases resulted in three products being accepted for clinical development in five years. She was also instrumental in the development of two marketed second-generation antihistamines, Allegra and Xyxal. Dr. Gray is the inventor on more than 30 U.S. patents and the author of more than 20 publications.
She received her bachelor’s degree in chemistry from Bucknell University and her doctorate in medicinal chemistry from the University of Illinois.
Dr. Carolina Cruz-Neira - Director of the Emerging Analytics Center at UA-Little Rock
In February 2018, Dr. Cruz-Neira was elected to the National Academy of Engineering for her work in immersive visualization. Other newly elected members include Jeff Bezos, CEO of Amazon, and Mary Barra, CEO of General Electric.
Academy membership is one of the highest professional recognitions within the engineering field and honors those who have made outstanding contributions to "engineering research, practice, or education, including, where appropriate, significant contributions to the engineering literature" and to "the pioneering of new and developing fields of technology, making major advancements in traditional fields of engineering, or developing/implementing innovative approaches to engineering education."
Dr. Cruz-Neira is known for designing and developing Cave Automatic Virtual Environment (CAVE), which creates a lifelike visual display by syncing specially designed glasses with images projected on three to six walls.
A Venezuelan-Spanish-American, she has a degree in systems engineering from the Universidad Metropolitana in Caracas, Venezuela. She earned a master's degree in electrical engineering and computer science and a PhD from the University of Illinois, Chicago.
Dr. Mary Good - Founding Dean of the College of Engineering and Information Technology at UA-Little Rock
Dr. Mary Good is an inorganic chemist with extensive academic, research, industry and government experience. She is a strong advocate of science, science education and women in science. Her work has contributed to the understanding of radioactive iodine for the treatment of thyroid conditions, solvent extraction of metal complexes, and catalysts, which activate or speed up chemical reactions.
Dr. Good’s distinguished career includes serving on the National Science Board during the terms of Presidents Jimmy Carter and Ronald Reagan and chairing the board from 1988-1991. She also was the Undersecretary for Technology in the U.S. Department of Commerce and Technology during Bill Clinton’s presidency.
The 143,000-member American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) elected Dr. Good to serve as the president. She was also the first female winner of the AAAS’s prestigious Philip Hogue Abelson prize for outstanding achievements in education, research and development management, and public service, spanning the academic, industrial, and government sectors.
A few of her more than 27 awards include the National Science Foundation Distinguished Service medal and the esteemed American Chemical Society Priestly Medal. She is also the 6th Annual Heinz Award Winner. In 2004, Dr. Good was recipient of the National Science Foundation’s highest honor, the Vannevar Bush Award.
Dr. Good received her Bachelor of Science degree in Chemistry from the University of Central Arkansas and her M.S. and PhD degrees in Inorganic Chemistry from the University of Arkansas. She has also received 21 honorary degrees and published more than 100 works.