Celebrating Graduate Women of Excellence

Lauren Hinkel | EAPS News
Tuesday, April 30, 2019

EAPS graduate students Christina Hernandez, Gabriela Serrato Marks, and Maya Stokes honored for their leadership, contributions to the institute, and outstanding accomplishment.

On Monday, the MIT Office of Graduate Education honored EAPS and MIT-WHOI Joint Program graduate students Christina Hernandez, Gabriela Serrato Marks, and Maya Stokes, among others, at the 2019 biennial celebration of Graduate Women of Excellence. The honorees were nominated by their peers and selected based on their exemplary leadership through example and action, service to the Institute, their dedication to mentoring and their drive to make changes to improve the student experience. As active members of the community, Hernandez, Serrato Marks and Stokes have been positive catalysts for change.

When Hernandez isn’t investigating fish life stages and population dynamics, like those of tuna, at MIT and WHOI, she’s improving the quality of life of those around her. “Chrissy has been a leader in efforts to increase diversity within the MIT-WHOI Joint Program. She’s a natural leader, not only in her research but also in her amazingly impressive activities related to enhancing diversity and women’s experiences in marine science.” Hernandez is the Chair of the Steering Committee of the Society for Women in Marine Science (SWMS), which brings together marine scientists from all backgrounds to advocate for the visibility of women in this community, and provides support and options as individuals overcome challenges and biases in their field. The group discusses and develops resources for women and their allies on topics like career choices, diversity, work life balance, confidence and image, lab/field experiences, mentorship, how men can best support women, inclusion, and intersectionality. Hernandez also serves on the Workplace Climate Committee at WHOI and has worked to promote diversity and inclusion in the MIT-WHOI Joint Program.

Not only is Serrato Marks an excellent spelunker while in the field investigating ancient climates and past rainfall changes in Mexico using stalagmites, she works endlessly to make science equitable. As an avid science and accessibility communicator, she’s written and shared stories and media about her research, inclusivity, disability and the work of others for EAPS, Massive Science and other publications. She’s also the president of Communicating Science at MIT, has participated in numerous outreach and SWMS events, and has represented EAPS during graduate admissions fairs. “As a result of Gabriela’s incredible service record, all those who interact with her within our department or at the institution level become better equipped as scientists, communicators, and people. It is her unwavering generosity to share her remarkable skills and experiences with others that makes her exceptional. Gabi is the perfect example of a true leader.”

As a geomorphologist, Stokes examines how geological processes change over time and their influence on the evolution of species. She’s paid particular attention to the growth of mountains and river erosion. On top of this, Stokes plays and coaches ultimate frisbee, was EAPS Graduate Student Advisory Council (EGSAC) co-president, and has helped to arrange and teach DEAPS Yellowstone with incoming first year students. “Maya has left an indelible mark on the student experience in our department. The impact of her role will continue to pay dividends for the department and graduate student body long after she graduates. Maya has consistently demonstrated her commitment to strengthening our department community for all members.”

The group gathered last night to learn the personal stories of these women and their journeys at MIT, celebrating their achievements, learning about their work, and discovering the opportunities and challenges that lie ahead for these talented women and the MIT community. Congratulations!

Story Image: Christina Hernandez and Maya Stokes attend the biennial celebration of Graduate Women of Excellence. Gabi Serrato Marks not pictured. (Photo: courtesy of Christine Chen)