Winthrop Women's Coalition Focuses on Women in Science for April 13 Event

April 05, 2022


  • The free April 13 event will begin at 7 p.m. in Dina’s Place. It is an approved cultural event.
  • The panelists are Dr. Takita Sumter, chair of the College of Arts and Sciences; Alena James '08; and Dr. Jenny Johnson '07.

ROCK HILL, SOUTH CAROLINA – A Winthrop University dean, a government science and technology advisor, and an expert science writer will headline “Women in Science: A Panel Discussion,” the latest offering from the Winthrop Women’s Coalition.

The free April 13 event will begin at 7 p.m. in Dina’s Place. It is an approved cultural event.

The panel discussion will be followed by a Q & A session. The panelists are:

*Dr. Takita Sumter, professor of chemistry and dean of Winthrop’s College of Arts and Sciences

Sumter, who oversees Winthrop’s largest degree-granting college, has served in numerous leadership roles, including as the university’s first Provost’s Faculty Fellow. She’s been published frequently in refereed scientific journals, such as Science’s Nextwave, and has served as chair of the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s Minority Affairs Committee. She was also in recent years elected to the society’s council, one of only nine selected nationwide. 

She holds a Ph.D. in biochemistry from the University of South Carolina and completed her post-doctoral fellowship at the Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine. She joined the Winthrop community in 2004. She’s taught courses in general chemistry and biochemistry sequence and loves to mentor undergraduate research. 

*Alena James ’08, ’10, science and technology advisor to the Office of the Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense for Chemical and Biological Defense 

Before her current role, James taught at different universities, including Marymount, where she directed student research in microbiology and managed the scientific laboratories. She also contributed to The Pandora Report, a biodefense blog, where she wrote about the use of U.S. drones to fight terrorism, the transporting of Ebola infected patients to the U.S., and the political and technological processes for destroying chemical weapons in Syria. She’s served as an expert for the Federation of American Scientists, interned at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism & Responses to Terrorism and completed a fellowship with the Chemical and Biological Defense ORISE program. 

She holds multiple degrees from Winthrop: a B.S. in biology; a B.A. in political science with a German minor; and a master’s degree in biology. She’s a Ph.D. candidate at George Mason University, from which she earned a master’s degree in biodefense. 

*Dr. Jenny Johnson ’07, medical writer, MedThink SciCom

Johnson works as a medical writer with MedThink SciCom, where she delivers accurate, inclusive and engaging content for the organization’s biopharma clients. She previously worked in a similar role for the University of Tennessee’s Health Science Center College of Pharmacy. 

Johnson holds a Ph.D. in pathology and immunology from Case Western Reserve University and completed her postdoctoral fellowship in immunology at St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital, where her research focused on cell-mediated immune regulation in airway model systems. 

The panel will be moderated by Dr. Jennifer Disney, faculty liaison for the Winthrop Women’s Coalition, professor and chair of the Department of Political Science, and director of the women’s and gender studies program. 

About the Winthrop Women's Coalition:

The Winthrop Women's Coalition was founded on the idea that women's strength is at its best when women work together and that a relationship with the institution is mutually beneficial: the institution fosters the individual to succeed and the individual helps to support the institution. In the coalition, one will find a connection to other women of diverse personal and professional backgrounds, and opportunities for personal and professional enrichment while helping to contribute to the university's mission and philanthropic needs. To date, the Winthrop Women’s Coalition has contributed $75,000 in Commencement Bridge Scholarships to help Winthrop students graduate.

To learn more about the coalition and get involved, please visit the Winthrop Women's Coalition website.

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