Skip to Content

Innovation@Duke

The latest news and stories from Duke’s innovation and entrepreneurship community

Spotlighting Innovative Duke Women for #InternationalWomensDay

Celebrating women in innovation at Duke for International Women's Day 2020

In honor of International Women’s Day, we’re sharing stories of Duke women who have founded companies, led groundbreaking research efforts, reshaped pedagogy, and beyond—women who have innovated and made their mark.

Join us in celebrating some of the many female Duke faculty, students, staff, and alumnae who are changing the world with their innovations.

Maya Ajmera

Sanford graduate Maya Ajmera founded the Global Fund for Children, a nonprofit that invests in innovative, community-based organizations working with some of the world’s most vulnerable children and youth.

Paula Alexander

Paula Alexander, Fuqua ’98, is Director, Sustainable Business & Innovation for Burt’s Bees and has played an important role influencing sustainability strategy at Burts Bees’ parent company, Clorox.

Ivy Altomare

Ivy Altomare, a medical oncologist with two decades of clinical and research experience, is developing a drug to treat Hand-Foot Syndrome, a painful side effect of some cancer treatments.


Valerie Ashby, dean of Trinity College of Arts & Sciences, is a chemist whose research contributes to the design and synthesis of materials for biomedical applications like X-ray contrast agents and drug delivery materials.

Melissa Bernstein

I&E board co-chair Melissa Bernstein ’87 is cofounder and co-CEO, with husband Doug, of Melissa & Doug, a leading designer and manufacturer of educational toys.

Lisa Blau

I&E board member Lisa Blau ’97 is a partner at __able, an investment partnership focused on supporting visionary early-stage brands in the positive, healthy living space.


Dawn Bowles

Dawn Bowles, who runs the Duke Human Heart Repository, is on the team that discovered a link between heart failure and a protein linked to cystic fibrosis, CTFR. They’re using heart tissues to develop and test gene therapy for CTFR.

With her work on open source learning, I&E core faculty member Aria Chernik is working to help administrators and teachers change the way computer science is taught in North Carolina elementary schools. #IAmOpenLearning #IAmCS

Lin Chua

Lin Chua LLM’00 cofounded InterNex Capital, a fintech company that uses tech integrations, real-time analytics, and AI to fund small and medium sized businesses.


Cathy Clark

A serial entrepreneur, faculty director for CASE, founding director of the CASE i3 Initiative on Impact Investing, and co-leader of the Social Entrepreneurship Accelerator at Duke (SEAD), Cathy Clark has helped build the fields of impact investing and social entrepreneurship for over 30 years.

Leslie Collins

An expert on physics-based machine learning algorithms for big data, Leslie Collins‘ work has applications for remediating human communication impairments, detecting potentially hazardous buried objects, identifying energy infrastructure, predicting seizures, and more.

Ingrid Debauchies

Ingrid Daubechies’ study of mathematical structures called wavelets has enabled data compression in applications ranging from smartphones, to MRI machines, to the study of fossils, and even to art forgeries.


Denali Dahl

DGHI alums Denali Dahl and Happy Ghosh are developing an at-home test strip for preeclampsia with the potential to transform health outcomes for women without access to regular prenatal care.

Happy Ghosh

Alexandra Davis

Alexandra Davis T’20 is founder and CEO of the Coven, a digital publication redefining how women positively interact with social media. She is also the founder and executive chairperson of SWISH Foundation, a nonprofit for high school students serving their local homeless populations.


Monika Dharia

Monika Dharia E’19 is founder and CEO of GreenGear Supply Company, which makes eco-friendly rain ponchos and other products using 100% recyclable bioplastic.

Ariana Eily

Science & Society postdoc Ariana Eily, who works to make science more accessible via innovative communication, created a science-art exhibit called the Art of a Scientist and founded Duke BioCoRE Science Communication.

Lauren Fine

Lauren Fine JD’11 cofounded the Youth Sentencing & Reentry Project, which works to keep children out of adult jails and prisons and to bring home people sentenced as children to die in prison.


April Gargiulo

I&E board member April Gargiulo ’96 is founder and CEO of Vintner’s Daughter, a luxury skincare company committed to performance-driven, quality-focused, non-toxic skincare.

Amanda Hargrove

Chemist Amanda Hargrove works on the small-molecule targeting of RNA, which may hold the key to curing a range of hard-to-fight diseases. “The entire genome might become targetable if the field is successful,” said Hargrove.

Rhian Horton

Rhian Horton T’20 is founder and president of MindSpark, an after-school enrichment program in finance and STEM for kids in lower-income public elementary schools.


Libby Magee Coles

Libby Magee Coles JD’08 founded Durham-based nonprofit Justice Matters, which combats human trafficking by providing trauma-informed legal services and promoting just policies and practices throughout North Carolina.

Christine Marx

A psychiatrist with more than 20 years of clinical and research experience, Christine Marx is working on a novel neurosteroid therapy for postpartum depression.

Jada McLean

Jada Mclean E’15 is cofounder and CEO of Hurry Home, the platform enabling home ownership of houses valued at $80K or less through shared ownership.


Hyasintha Bartholomew Ntuyeko

Hyasintha Ntuyeko is founder and CEO of Kasole Secrets, a Duke-UNICEF Innovation Accelerator Enterprise that makes and distributes affordable, disposable, biodegradable pads and offers interactive menstrual health and hygiene curriculum for both boys and girls in Tanzania.

Megan O’Connor

Named on last year’s Forbes 30 Under 30 in Energy list, Megan O’Connor E’17 is cofounder of Nth Cycle, a recycling-focused company working to transition the U.S. away from its reliance on primary mining and refining of metals overseas.

Seun Okimi

Seun Okimi T’20 uses her background in chemistry to help inform her YouTube tutorials on innovative ways to care for and style black women’s hair, which have received more than 10M views since she started her channel in 2016.


Selwyn Rayzor

I&E board member Selwyn Rayzor ’93 is president of the Rayzor Company, a privately owned investment company, and is the founding board chair of the Great Plains Board for the U.S. Fund for UNICEF.

Madhavi Reddy

To increase awareness of various health issues among immigrant communities, Madhavi Reddy created a “health superhero” comic book based on a South Asian character for use in waiting rooms.

Jane Richardson

Jane Richardson’s work with her husband, David, to map out protein structures has advanced the field of structural biology and revolutionized science and medicine.


Cynthia Rudin

An expert on how machine learning algorithms are used to inform high-stakes decisions, Cynthia Rudin‘s work has applications across multiple fields: energy, criminal justice, health care, and birdwatching (yes, birdwatching).

Christine Schindler

Christine Schindler E’15 is cofounder and CEO of Pathspot, a hand scanner to detect germs that cause foodborne illness (named one of Time’s best inventions of 2019), and founder and CEO of Girls Engineering Change.

Dori Steinberg

Dori Steinberg has developed digital health tools to help monitor and encourage lifestyle changes that treat obesity and chronic diseases, particularly in socioeconomically disadvantaged populations.


Adrienne Stiff-Roberts

Adrienne Stiff-Roberts has developed a technique for producing thin-film perovskites—hybrid organic-inorganic semiconductors with great promise for new energy tech—with delicate organic components destroyed by other techniques.

Shyni Varghese

With research involving musculoskeletal tissue repair, disease biophysics, and organ-on-a-chip technology, Shyni Varghese is innovating in the fields of biomaterials and stem cells.

Julia Wuench

Julia Wuench, Fuqua ’17, is founder of The Authenticity Guide, an executive and career coaching firm, and co-owns Eastcut Sandwich Bar in Durham.

Related Stories

Five Questions with ArchGuard Co-Founders Kevin Rosenthal & Kelly Yang

As Duke Design Health Fellows, Kevin Rosenthal (Master of Mechanical Engineering ’20) and Kelly Yang ’21 were part

READ MORE about five questions with archguard co-founders kevin rosenthal & kelly yang

Duke Team Shares Experiences, Insights with Social Innovation Learning Accelerators

In a presentation at the University Global Coalition (UGC) annual conference on September 28, representatives from Duke presented

READ MORE about duke team shares experiences, insights with social innovation learning accelerators
Back to top