Amanda Morris, Georgia Hodes, and Roseanne Foti

9:30-10:30 a.m. 
Assembly Hall at the Holtzman Alumni Center

Hear from leading female scientists from Virginia Tech and learn about their research into the human brain, alternative energy and more.

Assistant Professor Georgia Hodes will discuss how targeting the body can treat the brain. 

Society labels mood disorders, such as depression and anxiety, as “mental illness” and looks for treatments that alter brain chemistry and function. These treatments fail to work in 40 to 60 percent of patients. New treatments and ways of diagnosing mental illness are needed.

Stress is a contributing factor to the onset of mood disorders. Individual differences in stress susceptibility depend upon activation or suppression of process in the body, such as the immune system, gonadal hormones and genetic sex, yet these are generally not considered when developing new treatments for mood disorders.

Hodes will discuss pre-clinical and clinical work demonstrating the immune system directly contributes to stress susceptibility and depression. She will also talk about how sex differences in the immune system drive a higher incidence of mood disorders in women. 

Associate Professor Amanda Morris will give a talk entitled "Do Plants Hold the Key to Our Energy Future?" She will explore the finite supply of fossil fuels and how the possible environmental impact of such energy sources has garnered the scientific community’s attention for the development of alternative, overall carbon-neutral fuel sources.

The sun provides enough energy every hour and a half to power the earth for a year. However, two of the remaining challenges that limit the use of solar energy are the development of cheap and efficient solar harvesting materials and advances in energy storage technology.

In the Morris' laboratory, students look to nature for inspiration. Natural photosynthesis utilizes the sun’s energy to transform carbon dioxide and water into carbohydrates, nature’s stored solar fuel. Her students study molecules that are capable of mimicking the chemistry of nature. If successful, the work could represent the breakthrough solar power needs to become a viable energy source.

Associate Professor Roseanne Foti will discuss how gender shapes women's path to leadership. 

Becoming a leader involves more than being put in a leadership role, acquiring new skills, and adapting one’s leadership style to the requirement of the role. It involves a fundamental identity shift.

A significant body of research shows there is a mismatch between how women are seen, and the qualities and experiences people tend to associate with leaders. Foti, the new chair of the Department of Psychology, will highlight five research findings that impact women’s ability to see themselves as leaders.

In addition, she will discuss how to promote experiences, interventions, and interactions that enhance the leadership development process for women.