Graduate Women in Science to host virtual professional development conference

January 26, 2021

UNIVERSITY PARK, Pa. — The State College chapter of Graduate Women in Science will host its 16th annual Empower conference from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. on Saturday, Feb. 6. The conference is entirely virtual and will be held via Zoom.

Empower is a professional development and networking conference for those in STEM fields at all career stages. The 2021 conference, which has the theme “Redefining Community,” will include speakers, interactive break-out sessions, a workshop, and a meditation activity.

The keynote speaker for the conference is Raven Baxter, also known as "Raven the Science Maven," an internationally recognized science communicator with a background in molecular biology. She uses a unique combination of music, science, and humor to educate and inspire both students and professionals alike. Raven founded Science Haven and Black In Science Communication, two organizations dedicated to making various STEM fields more inclusive, accessible and diverse.

"I'm very excited to hear Raven speak," said Ryan Beneck, Empower conference committee member. "She represents so many great causes and is extremely passionate about what she does. I remember the first time watching one of her music videos, and it was hilarious. Raven’s trademark humor is something I think we all need after the rough year that was 2020."

Other speakers will include Damian Milton, chair of the Participatory Autism Research Collective (PARC); Savannah Martin, doctoral candidate in biological anthropology at Washington University in St. Louis; Skyra Rideaux, co-founder of Conversation Starters; Tyler O. Jones, freelancer for NPR Scicommers; and Kristin Finch, associate dean for diversity and inclusion in the Eberly College of Science at Penn State.

The conference will also include opportunities for networking and discussion with speakers and other attendees.

“This year’s conference really pulls from the current experiences everyone in our country, and the world, are facing right now,” said Maggie Hernandez, Empower Conference committee co-chair. “We wanted to be sure to bring these issues to light, especially as they relate to engaging with and forming new communities during the COVID-19 pandemic as well as during the fight for racial justice within our country.” 

Online registration is open to undergraduate and graduate students, post-docs, faculty and professionals, and community members until Feb. 2. Register now at, and additional information can be found at

Last Updated January 26, 2021