Arts & Academia


Phyllis Wise is one of the very special women in academia who has made history and smashed stereotypes as a result of her exceptional works of science. Speaking of exception, she remains the first woman and the first Asian American to serve as president of the University of Washington (UW).

Wise is the daughter of two excellent educationalists, who left China to the United States to pursue their education in 1938 before the World War 2 began. She was born and raised in New York City, her parents were education enthusiasts and they instilled educational enthusiasm in her.

Wise’s father had an MD from Beijing Union Medical College and a doctorate degree from Northwestern University. Her mother who was an educationist also graduated with a nursing degree from Yenching University, Beijing, and on getting to the US she pursued a teaching nursing education degree at Columbia Teacher’s College.

Growing up as a young child she was surrounded by lots of scientific activities performed by her father who was a neuroscientist. Often times Wise was taken to her father’s lab to watch him as he experiments, this explains how she got so attached to Science at a very tender age.

Wise grew up to love education and her parents were her backbone. Although her father had wanted her to become a medical doctor, Wise took another path to the top and she has fulfilled her parent’s expectations for her.

She received a bachelor’s degree in biology from Swarthmore College in 1967, and in 1969 she obtained her master’s degree and then pushed forward for a doctorate in zoology from the University of Michigan in 1972.

Wise became a postdoctoral fellow at the University of Michigan for two years (1972–1974). She was awarded honorary degrees from Swarthmore College in 2008 and the University of Birmingham in 2015.

In 2008, the Puget Sound Business Journal named her one of its 2008 Women of Influence.

However, it hadn’t been all rosy for Wise; she had her struggles and difficulties climbing up the ladder. Especially being a woman and an Asian American, all eyes were on her to see how far she could go.

But Alas! She moved upward and even forward at every point in time.

Wise took her very steps in education from1976, when she was appointed Assistant Professor of physiology at the University of Maryland, Baltimore.

Moving forward, in 1993, she was appointed a professor of physiology and chair of the department at the University of Kentucky in Lexington, Kentucky.

In 2002, she became Dean of the College of Biological Sciences at University of California-Davis, holding also the rank of Distinguished Professor of Neurobiology, Physiology, and Behavior in its College of Biological Sciences, and Professor of Physiology and Membrane Biology in its School of Medicine.

As she continued her journey in the academic sector she was made Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at the University of Washington in 2005.

Her outstanding record catapulted her towards academic leadership when need be that an interim president was required, so she took the position of the President of UW and she served from 2010-2011. One of her most profound accomplishment at the University of Washington was the establishment of the College of the Environment which she led during her service. The College brought together several previously abandoned programs and gave them a place in the university priorities and budget allocations.

When the university board found a permanent president, Wise was placed back as the Provost and Executive Vice President.

But during the same period, she was offered the position of Chancellor at one of the largest public universities in the United States─ the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign and Vice President of the University of Illinois with an annual budget of $1.5 billion, $400 million in research expenditures, 42,000 students, and more than 1,800 tenure-track faculty members.

Wise resigned as the School Chancellor in August 2015, having served for almost five years.

Her works in science focus principally on the effect of hormones on the feminine brain during the process of development, adulthood, and aging. Her research uncovered the diverse actions of estrogens on the brain, including its protective effects after stroke injury. She was funded by the NIH for 32 consecutive years during which she received two 10-year MERIT awards, and led center and program project grants.

Dr. Wise is author or co-author of over 200 articles and research papers in endocrinology.

She is known and celebrated for her outstanding research work in the field of science up till date, she also has a record of great philanthropic works including; donating all her compensation from serving as a board of director in Nike to student’s scholarships.

Being exception in providing value in various aspects of life is what passionate people love to do, adding beauty to life’s untapped resource and making a masterpiece out of it. Great people strive to become masters and expertise in their field of work, leaving marks and footprints for all too see and copy.

Doing what you love to do is not enough but understanding what you do and the ability to control your work is perfect. Having a perfect understanding of your skills is an open door to excellence.

Tatiana Bilbao Spamer is a Mexican architect who has distinguished herself in her field based on her unique passion that calls her attention to creativity drawn from environmental curiosity.

Tatiana’s love for architecture can be traced down her linage. She was born in 1972 in Mexico City, into an architect’s family. She had a robust vision towards bringing to life her passion and she followed through until it became a reality.

She holds a bachelor’s degree in architecture and urbanism from Universidad Iberoamericana. She once worked with Urban Housing and Development Department of Mexico City as an advisor for Urban Projects to the minister from 1998-99. Working at the Urban Housing and Development Department of Mexico City steered an interest to make an impact in public space and urban development.

At first, she started out with two partners and they create a studio but they parted ways after four years and some months and then the studio was closed down.

As a result of the urban situation of Mexico, Tatiana pushed forward to establish the Tatiana Bilbao Estudio in 2004.

Tatiana Bilba Estudio focuses on cultural and economic development which is inspired by Tatiana’s multicultural and multidisciplinary office.

The Tatiana Bilba Estudio concentrates on understanding the structure and natural characteristics of the environment in order to translate its inflexible attributes into beautiful designs, using resources to create spaces in order to humanize them as a contribution to global capitalism which leads to cultural and economic development.

Her studio was the first step in her journey to fame and prosperity. Her first recognized work was the exhibition pavilion in Jinhua Architecture Park that was completed in 2007.

The project was the best amongst a Chinese led exhibition coordinated by Ai Weiwei (a Chinese artist) who selected a group of young architects from around the world to design and develop a large park organized by a network of pavilions and located in the shore of the Yiwu River, close to Shanghai.

She has created diverse works which include the Botanical Garden in Culiacán, a master plan and open chapel for a Pilgrimage Route in Jalisco, a Biotechnological Center for a Tech Institution, a sustainable housing prototype that is built with 8,000 USD, and a funeral home.

Most importantly, her efforts in the development of Mexico’s sustainable housing has been really exceptional, this has brought about recognition from many angles.

The various recognitions among others incudes the Global Award for Sustainable Architecture Prize in 2014, she was named the Emerging Voice by the Architecture League of NY in 2009, Recipient of the Kunstpries Berlin in 2012.

She is not only pursuing her dreams but also pursues development through her unique impact.

Anida Yoeu Ali was born to Western Cambodian parents in 1974. Her parents hailed from Battambang the capital city of Western Cambodia.

During the war in Cambodia, which led to the invasion of the Vietnams, Anida’s family left their country for Thailand in 1979 and stayed in a refugee camp, but they moved again to Malaysia and finally settled in the United States. Anida spent most of her younger days in Chicago.

When it comes to teaching and other academic roles, passion for the job is an important factor as it goes a long way to shape an attitude to work. Although some aspects of the academia are still male-dominated, women have recorded outstanding achievements in their given fields and this in itself serves as a source of inspiration to women across regions who aspire to engage in this noble profession.
The Sciences have also been impacted by a huge number of special women all around the world including Africa.
In Sudan, Nanoparticle Physicist Dr. Nashwa Eassa is making waves through her research work which has earned her local and international commendation.

Dr. Nashwa is an assistant professor of physics at Al-Neelain University in Khartoum. She is also the founder of Sudanese Women in Science, a non-profit organization aiming to facilitate the participation of Sudanese women in science.
She has been drawn to physics since her childhood days, always being curious about how the universe works.


Dr. Nashwa obtained her BSc in physics from the University of Khartoum in 2004. In 2007, she bagged a Master’s Degree in Nanotechnology and Material Physics from Sweden’s Linköping University and after a while, she pursued a Ph.D. degree from the Nelson Mandela Metropolitan University in South Africa which she obtained in 2012.


During her Ph.D. studies, she carried out a research on exploring ways to minimize film accumulation of high-speed semiconductors and the interferences with electricity flow. This research sang her fame abroad and earned her the Elsevier Foundation Award for Early Career Women Scientists in the Developing World in 2015.

She also carried out other researches including developing a way to use solar radiation to purify water and investigating the possibility of splitting water molecules to collect hydrogen.

Her progress in science moved her to establish a Non-governmental organization in 2013: the Sudanese Women in Science strictly for women who are science conscious.

Julie Mehretu is a contemporary Ethiopian-born American artist. She was born in the year 1970 in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, not as an artist but as the first child of a professor who moved with his family to East Lansing, Michigan in 1977, to occupy a teaching position at Michigan State University.

Julie grew up with a deep flair for painting and with self-encouragement, she was able to fulfill her dreams.

Julie studied at University Cheikh Anta Diop, Dakar (1990–91), earned a BA from Kalamazoo College, Michigan (1992), she began to lay a foundation for an art career independently before attending the MFA program at the Rhode Island School of Design, where she received her degree in 1997. She was a resident of the CORE Program, Glassell School of Art, Museum of Fine Arts, Houston (1997–98) and the Artist-in-Residence Program at the Studio Museum in Harlem (2001).

She is happily married and a daughter-in-law to an Australian author and poet Lily Brett whose husband is the celebrated Australian artist David Rankin.

Julie is a peculiar artist whose work is expressed more in large-scale abstract paintings, her work carries the attributes of very important 20th-century painters, like Wassily Kandinsky because they are portrayed with elements of Abstract Expressionism with Pop Art.

Julie has a great sense of taste when it comes to painting that makes her work different from the others.

The difference in Julie’s painting is the composure and uniqueness from the conventional painting of the modern day. This has brought her to the place of recognition and she has received awards in various categories.

Her paintings are done with a different technique of compiled layers of different elements and media; this is done with the use of acrylic paint on canvas overlaid with mark-making.

She engages tools like pencil, pen, ink and thick streams of paint. Unlike common canvases, Julie overlays her canvases with unalike architectural features such as columns, façades, and porticoes combining them with different geographical designs such as building plans and city maps and architectural renderings for stadiums, international airports, and charts.

Among Julie’s awards is the Foundation for Contemporary Arts Grants to Artists Award (2001), and also she received the recipient of the 2001 Penny McCall Award. She was named as one of the 2005 recipients of the MacArthur Fellowship on September 20, 2005. A John D. and Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation Award (2005); and the American Art Award from the Whitney Museum of American Art, New York (2005). Julie Mehretu received the 15th commission of the Deutsche Bank and Solomon R. Guggenheim Foundation in 2007. And she was awarded the Barnett and Annalee Newman Award In 2013, and the US Department of State Medal of Arts from Secretary of State John Kerry in 2015 and much more.

Her work has been recognized in major exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, New York (2007); Detroit Institute of Arts (2006); Walker Art Museum, Minneapolis (2003); and Albright-Knox Art Gallery, Buffalo (2003) among others.

She is happily married and resides with her family in New York City, U.S.A.

Ana Mari Cauce is the president of the University of Washington, and the 33rd individual to seat in that position.

She is a Latin America who was born during the Cuba revolution on the 11 of January 1956 in Havana of Cuba Island. On account of the revolution, her family left Cuba when Ana was only three years old and headed to Florida, where she grew up.

While her family settled in Miami, her father Vicente Cauce, who was the minister of education in Cuba, at the time had to work in a shoe factory with his wife Ana Cauce (née Vivanco).

Ana schooled at the University of Miami, where she studied English. She obtained a Bachelor of Arts summa cum laude in English in 1977, and in 1979, she earned her first master’s degree in psychology and the other, Master of Philosophy from the University of Yale 1982.

Before moving to Seattle in 1986, she had worked as a lecturer at the University of Delaware. But when she got a job at the University of Washington, she relocated.

While in Washington, she was known for her standard teaching, scholarship, and advocacy and in 1990 gained tenure, six years later she became Chair of the American Ethnic Studies department. Ana later became the Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences, however, it wasn’t the end of the road for her, she continued to strive until 2012 when she became the Provost of the University of Washington and was also selected as Board of Regents for the university in 2015.

Based on her efficiency, she became the school’s most preferred choice to succeed her predecessor Michael Young as the president of Washington in 2017.

Ana Mari Cauce is the first permanent woman president of Washington University and also the first Latina to hold that position.

She is known to be passionate about granting access to higher education for all, she also promised to provide full tuition to eligible Washington students who otherwise could not attend college. She is also keen on bridging gaps that have existed among the students as a result of race and diversities, launching an effort to create a more just and diverse community.

Ana has been honoured with various awards, including the Dalmas Taylor Distinguished Contribution Award, the Luis Fernando Esteban Public Service Award, and the James M. Jones Lifetime Achievement Award of the American Psychological Association, the Grace Hopper Exemplary Leadership Award and the Distinguished Contribution Award from the Society for Community Research and Action.


Art is a form of creation and expression of imaginations, thoughts, and fantasies that give meaning and more essence to lifestyle.

The ability to establish an art is the power of relevance given to a piece of art by the artist. Every artist or painter draw inspiration from a source that was or is a part of their existence.

Just like the story of Akunyili Crosby who was born as Njideka Akunyili in Enugu state of Nigeria in 1983.

She is the daughter of the late Dora Nkem Akunyili who was the Director General of National Agency for Food, and Drug Administration and Control (NAFDAC) of Nigeria and Nigerian Minister of Information and Communications from 2008 to 2010.

Akunyili Crosby grew up in the city of Enugu, but she moved to the prestigious all girls’ boarding school in Lagos the Queen’s college Yaba where she had her secondary education.


During her days at Queen’s college, she once desired to add a lighter course to her intense science-based courses, and the only thought that came pushing towards her was painting.

She registered for some art courses which she eventually fell in love with and found herself trying to focus with other of her courses.

After completing her secondary school in 1999, she moved to the US to further her studies at the age of 16. She had left Nigeria with the aim of becoming a medical doctor like her father and her older siblings.

But she was cut in the middle while trying to choose a career path because she had two lovers at that time and didn’t know which of them she wanted to let go.




She took a break and returned to Nigeria, on getting to Nigeria she decided to work. It was while she was working that she made up her mind that she was going to spend the rest of her life painting.

After she made her decisions Njideka went back to America. Meanwhile, she had noticed that the pictures painted by the West about her homeland were nothing better than scenes of crisis. She decided to re-paint those images through her drawings. She considers herself an American and African artist, merging the features of both cultures to make a unique art.

When she returned, she and her older sister stayed in Philadelphia where she studied art at Swarthmore College and post-Baccalaureate Certificate from the Pennsylvania Academy of the Fine Arts, Philadelphia. She later took her MFA at Yale and was encouraged to take a teaching job as an assistant.

Akunyili allows her ethnicity, cultural heritage and African experiences to influence her art in order to re-inform the outside world about the competent and better Africa.

She draws her inspiration from the images of the Nigerian culture and her everyday life back in college days.

Her work is recognized and appreciated both in Africa and America with various awards that include the Prix Canson award, an internationally-recognized prize for art on paper. The Next Generation Prize by New Museum, an award for emerging artists. She was also recognized as the top of 10 black artists to celebrate in 2016 and many other recognitions.

She married to a Texan, Justin Crosby and they live in Brooklyn, New York.