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UNG professor recognized for inspiring women in STEM

Aimee Tomlinson Inspire award
Dr. Aimée Tomlinson (center) talks with her undergraduate research group. The students are, from left to right: David Wheeler, John Amoss, Rebecca Bearden and Lily Rainwater.

For her dedication to helping young women pursue careers in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM), Dr. Aimée Tomlinson, associate professor of chemistry at the University of North Georgia (UNG), has been recognized by a national magazine as one of "100 Inspiring Women in STEM."

INSIGHT Into Diversity magazine features the award winners in a special section included in the September issue.

"It's important to have women in STEM because these fields benefit from having as many viewpoints in the mix as possible. The more viewpoints there are, the more complete our answers will be," Tomlinson said. "I don't see gender in my students — only potential. My goal is to inspire every student I come into contact with."

Sheila Caldwell, advisor to the president on diversity at UNG, said this recognition of the wonderful mentorship that Dr. Tomlinson is providing to her students is well in-tune with the great strides UNG is making as a whole in boosting its status as an institution that celebrates diversity and inclusion.

"She is preparing her students for long-term academic and personal success with her encouragement, which strongly supports the university's mission," Caldwell said.

Tomlinson was nominated by Dr. John Leyba, head of UNG's Department of Chemistry, who said that Tomlinson goes above and beyond in teaching her students.

"Aimée is very passionate about her field of computational chemistry, and this spills over to her students, most especially those students who perform undergraduate research with her," Leyba said. "In addition, she has very high academic standards and holds all of her students accountable to these standards. However, she is also compassionate and will go the extra mile to give students who want extra help the assistance that they need."

One of those students currently involved in undergraduate research with Tomlinson is Lily Rainwater, who said that until Tomlinson approached her about participating in undergraduate research, she had never considered pursuing a research-based career.

"Originally my plan was to attend pharmacy school, but I am now considering the research fields in pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. I have always enjoyed a challenge, and I appreciate the difficult concepts that Dr. Tomlinson presents to me," Rainwater said.

Tomlinson's own research and scholarly activities help give her students perspective on what they can achieve. She was granted permission to use the resources wielded by the National Science Foundation's Extreme Science and Engineering Discovery Environment (XSEDE) in 2010, and later was accepted onto the review board that allocates XSEDE's resources to scientists and engineers around the world. In 2014, the National Science Foundation Division of Chemistry awarded an $86,000 grant to Tomlinson in support of her molecular research that eventually could lead to the development of more efficient electronics.

Tomlinson also received a grant earlier this year from the U.S. Air Force Office of Scientific Research that will provide for her and a colleague to produce electrochromic materials for use in helmet visors worn by fighter pilots. The material will respond to ultraviolet light intensity to help pilots see, eliminating the need for them to manually lower their visors when emerging into strong sunlight.

Tomlinson earned a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and a Bachelor of Science in chemistry from Purdue University and received her doctorate in theoretical/computational chemistry from Carnegie Mellon University in 2004. She serves on multiple scientific committees and is a reviewer for several scientific journals.

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