Four selected for Iris Marion Young Awards

The 2021-22 Iris Marion Young Awards for Political Engagement will recognize four people representing Pitt faculty, staff and undergraduate and graduate students at a online ceremony on Nov. 11.

The Gender, Sexuality, & Women’s Studies Program and the Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) each year sponsor the awards — named for the philosopher and social theorist Iris Young — to honor those who work to promote justice in the University, at the local or national level, or across the globe.

At this year's ceremony, the winners will participate in a roundtable discussion with Sabina Deitrick, associate professor in GSPIA, about activism and service.

Faculty award: Sarah Hainer, assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences and a member of the UPMC Hillman Cancer Center.

Hainer has worked to promote diversity, equity and inclusion in academic science. Within her department, she developed a tiered mentoring program for historically excluded undergraduate students, developed a graduate student climate survey, and organized events to promote inclusion, such as developing a DEI book club for departmental members and organizing recognition of Women in Science. More broadly, she has written blog posts on intersectionality and being a woman in the sciences and developed guidelines to help academics reduce bias in five fundamental practices that are hindering inclusivity within academic science.

Staff award: Laura S. Nelson, assistant director of the Office of Undergraduate Research, Scholarship and Creative Activity in the Dietrich School of Arts & Sciences

Nelson is active in the Transgender Working Group, the Pitt Queer Professionals Steering Committee, and the LGBTQIA+ Task Force, and through these roles, has connected with a multitude of offices and organizations at Pitt to improve working and learning conditions for the LGBTQIA+ community. Nelson has been (and continues to be) active in student-led efforts to launch an LGBTQIA+ center at Pitt and works in many ways to create and publicize resources for trans and nonbinary folks at Pitt.

Undergraduate student award: Aparna Ramani, a health care activist pursuing her bachelor’s degree with majors in natural sciences and Sociology and an MPH in health policy and management in the accelerated bachelor’s/master’s degree program in the Graduate School of Public Health.

Ramani was awarded the prestigious Brackenridge Fellowship in 2019 and used this opportunity to conduct mixed-methods research investigating the impact of different insurance coverage policies (fee-for-service versus value-based care) on patients’ roles in shared medical decision-making and their comfort in disclosing to healthcare providers. She has continued her research in health care as an Honors Research Fellow contextualizing the experiences of substance-using pregnant womxn. She is currently working with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention as an intern in the food and nutrition security sector.

Graduate student award: Nikki Cristobal, a scholar from the island of Kauai, Hawaii, who is a few months away from completing her doctorate in social and comparative analysis in Education

One of her mentors describes Cristobal as a “woman who has overcome life-threatening odds and extreme challenges and racism to become a scholar-practitioner-political activist par excellence.” Her dissertation focuses on ‘Ike Kūpuna (the knowledge of elders/ ancestors) and intergenerational cultural resiliency among women who are generationally rooted to Kauai island. Like Young, Cristobal critiques colonization and highlights indigenous Hawaiian women’s unique approach to being civic leaders. She also was recently inducted into the Pacific Business News’ list of “40 under 40” in recognition of the feminist NGO she co-founded to help women and girls.

The ceremony will be from 5 to 6:30 p.m. Nov. 11 via Zoom. Register here.