Jill Baron, ecologist and senior research scientist with Colorado State University’s Natural Resource Ecology Lab in the Warner College of Natural Resources, has been named a 2015 Woman of Vision by Colorado Women of Influence for her work advancing women’s role in science.
“This award is a tremendous honor,” Baron said. “Gaining recognition for successful female scientists helps change the culture of science, and sets up role models for young women considering science careers.”
Tireless champion of women
Baron has been a tireless champion of women throughout her career. In her dual role as a research scientist with the U.S. Geological Survey and CSU she has mentored a great number of female graduate students towards doctoral and master’s degrees.
She is active in professional organizations, focusing on diversity and inclusiveness, and serving as a strong role model for female scientists. Baron is the past president of the Ecological Society of America, Director of the Powell Center, Director of the North American Nitrogen Center, and serves on the nominating committee for the MacArthur Genius Awards, the American Association for Advancement of Science, and other organizations that honor scientists.
Through her work with the Ecological Society of America she encourages the advancement of women and minorities and helped create Strategies for Ecology Education, Diversity, and Sustainability, or SEEDS, chapters at numerous universities, including CSU. SEEDS groups work to diversify and advance the interest of underrepresented students to participate, and lead, in ecology. She also created a set of criteria for Powell Center proposals that encourages teams to include diversity among their members to be successful in receiving awards.
Vital for women to take a strong role
“All the common barriers you could think of still exist for women in the sciences,” Baron explained. “It’s vital for women to take a strong role in scientific fields because we need all the brain power we can get to solve major environmental problems. Half the world’s population shouldn’t be excluded from those efforts.”
Baron’s advice for young women considering science careers includes remaining optimistic, working hard and realizing that there are no truly terminal decisions.
“There are always options,” Baron said. “Don’t feel like you’re ever stuck somewhere because of a decision that you’ve made.”
Women of Vision awards
Since 2010 Colorado Women of Influence has given twelve Women of Vision awards annually to recognize outstanding contributions of women in Colorado who have gone above and beyond in their leadership and mentorship of women in their careers. Baron is the fourth CSU recipient of the award, joining past winners Maury Dobbie, Diana Wall and Temple Grandin.