TAMEST Staff Profile: Stephanie Shaw, TAMEST Program Officer 

Stephanie Shaw

As TAMEST’s Program Officer, Stephanie Shaw is responsible for managing all TAMEST programs, including the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards, Mary Beth Maddox Award and Lectureship and the TAMEST Protégé Program.

Stephanie grew up volunteering with her family at children’s hospitals to give back after her brother was born with congenital heart disease and had several heart surgeries. She says the joy she felt volunteering solidified her passion for a career that would seek to build others up. 

Though not a native Texan, Stephanie came to Austin after graduating from The University of Alabama in 2016 to get involved in the non-profit community.

TAMEST connected with Stephanie to learn more about her passion for her work and to hear more about the latest in TAMEST programs.

Why did you decide to come and work for TAMEST?

I loved that TAMEST was putting the emphasis on research in Texas. After experiencing the COVID pandemic, the need for research became even more amplified to me.

The role of Program Officer attracts me because I get to have a part in spotlighting talented rising star researchers through multiple programs. I was also drawn to the idea of working with committees composed of such talented researchers in Texas.

What makes you most passionate about your work?

Seeing the next generation of research be recognized is such an inspiring part of my job. I love learning what innovation is taking place in Texas and it is so fascinating to see how many diverse individuals studying such different and fascinating topics are nominated for the awards each year.

My favorite part of my work is viewing the Edith and Peter O’Donnell Award research videos at the conference. It’s so special to see a visual representation of the incredible work of the recipients, including what they are passionate about, in a room full of such talented individuals.

Talk about the TAMEST Protégé Program and why members should nominate?

The TAMEST Protégé program is an opportunity for researchers early in their careers to join the TAMEST annual conference, network with top researchers in the state and participate in a protégé-only poster challenge.

This is a great chance for early-career researchers to learn more about the National Academies and meet others in their field and beyond. The poster challenge is also an opportunity for participants to practice presenting their research in a concise way to a general audience.

We have already received protégé nominations from over 40 TAMEST members for this year’s conference, and we look forward to receiving more!

The Edith and Peter O’Donnell Awards have recognized more than 70 rising star researchers in our state since they were established in 2006. What makes the awards so special?

Not only are top researchers in Texas on the O’Donnell Awards committee, but nominations are also reviewed by National Academy members outside of Texas. Once recipients are selected, a panel of the state’s Nobel Laureates give their final stamp of approval.

As the first TAMEST award program, it has grown to become very competitive, and we have seen nearly 20% of recipients be elected to a National Academy. I see firsthand how seriously the committee takes the review process, and we are so grateful for their participation.

What are the biggest misconceptions when it comes to nominations for the O’Donnell Awards?

I think the biggest misconception is that if a nominee is not selected the first year, they will not ever be selected.

We actually see that a majority of recipients are renominated when they win the award. If a nominee is not selected their first year and they are still eligible, they will be automatically renominated for two years. This is a great opportunity to keep their application in the system.

We do strongly encourage updating nomination materials with new publications year-on-year to ensure they stay as competitive as possible.

Last year TAMEST launched a new awards program for women in cancer research, The Mary Beth Maddox Award and Lectureship. Why is highlighting women in cancer research important?  

Although I never had the honor of meeting Mary Beth Maddox, the former Executive Director of TAMEST who passed away after a valiant battle with cancer in 2018, her passion for highlighting women in medicine, engineering, science, and technology is so apparent with this award.

It’s a beautiful way to celebrate her legacy not only at TAMEST, but in the research community. It’s also a great opportunity to purposefully uplift women in science and shine the spotlight on their work.

What experience do you have running programs?

I moved to Austin after my undergrad education because I wanted to get involved in the non-profit community. I started in development, and moved to programs, where I felt most inspired. I love being able to support organizations to live their mission through their programs and connect with their community.

In my previous role, I ran two programs: Measuring What Matters and Trauma Informed Peer Learning. Measuring What Matters is an innovative, six-month program designed to help a team make progress on a specific data or evaluation-related goal. Trauma-Informed Peer Learning sessions are monthly learning sessions for staff from child-serving organizations.

As lead for both programs, I created the applications, selected accepted teams, developed content for the series, served as liaison between coaches and teams, facilitated each session, evaluated the programs, and increased engagement.

What do you do outside of work for fun?

I love to read and have a yearly goal of how many books I get through each year. Otherwise, I go on walks with my husband and dog, try new restaurants around town, travel (visiting Italy this year), check out vintage stores and cook new recipes!


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