The BEWEL Leadership in Innovation Award

Created in 2019, the BEWEL Leadership in Innovation Award is presented to a junior or mid-career faculty member who has demonstrated excellence in innovation, research and/or scholarship and is committed to the advancement of women in engineering. The recipient of this award is honored at the annual College of Engineering Faculty Awards Banquet.

Studies have shown that one of the leading factors in increasing recruitment, retention and success of female engineers is ensuring uplifting and supportive faculty mentorship. Although much progress has been made for female representation in STEM education, a disparity still exists in the female engineering student experience. Today, engineers are asked to solve increasingly complex problems, and it is evident that a diverse workforce, inclusive of female representation, will be necessary for complex solutions. Lack of female classmates, colleagues and role models in engineering disciplines limits opportunities for peer- and mentor-supported growth. BEWEL promotes cultural and strategic changes and growth strategies to help level the playing field for all.

The BEWEL Leadership in Innovation Award identifies and highlights faculty innovators and leaders who are supportive of women in engineering. Faculty members chosen to receive the BEWEL award are not only provided additional funding to extend and expand their reach and impact, but are also provided the opportunity to leverage the BEWEL network and expertise to further their research agendas and careers, creating a cyclical culture of women helping mentors who support women in engineering.

Award Winners

Hongping Zhao (headshot)

Hongping Zhao
2022 Leadership in innovation Award winner

Dr. Hongping Zhao is a professor in the Departments of Electrical and Computer Engineering and Materials Science and Engineering.  At the time of the award, she was an associate professor conducting research in wide and ultrawide bandgap semiconductors and making significant contributions to the fields of power electronics and optoelectronics.  She supports and engages women in engineering through her teaching, research, and mentoring at Ohio State and more broadly through such work as serving as a special issue editor for the upcoming Photonics journal’s Women’s Special Issue Series: Photonics.  She exemplifies leadership in innovation, both in her technological advancements and in her efforts to inspire and advocate for women students and faculty in engineering.

Learn more about her research in Wide Bandgap and Ultra-Wide Bandgap Semiconductor Materials and Devices.

Asimina Kiourti portrait

Asimina Kiourti
2021 Leadership in Innovation Award winner

Dr. Asimina Kiourti is an assistant professor in the Department of Electrical and Computer Engineering. Her transformational research in wearable and implantable sensor technology will no doubt lead to improvements in health outcomes and the lives of others. Her efforts outside the lab and the classroom are equally impressive, and of special note is her creativity in developing the TechnoFashion workshop, which she successfully grew into a year-long program. Professor Kiourti truly epitomizes leadership in innovation, both in her technological advancements in the field of body-area electromagnetics and in her outreach to inspire and sustain enthusiasm for STEM.

Learn more about her research in Wearable and Implantable Technologies.


Karen Dannemiller (headshot)

Karen Dannemiller
2020 Leadership in Innovation Award winner

Now an associate professor, at the time of her award, Dr. Karen Dannemiller was an assistant professor at The Ohio State University with a joint appointment in Civil, Environmental, and Geodetic Engineering and Environmental Health Sciences. Her research of the indoor environment has yielded important innovations in the understanding of the indoor microbiome and development of novel techniques to characterize public health exposure. She demonstrates excellence in leadership and mentorship through her many activities across disciplines at Ohio State and her outreach to the community at large through podcasts, YouTube videos, and even an article in Architectural Digest.  Professor Dannemiller clearly exemplifies leadership in research, innovation, and scholarship, as well as a passion for mentoring her students.

Learn more about her research with the Indoor Environmental Quality Laboratory.

How to Apply

Annually, the College of Engineering issues a call for nominations in the Fall. Nominations are then accepted through the College’s Faculty Awards website.


  • Award nominations are typically accepted from November through the beginning of January
  • Announcement of the BEWEL Leadership in Innovation Award Winner is late Spring annually
  • Recognition event and timing to be announced annually at the time of winner selection

Give to the Leadership in Innovation Award Fund

Please join us in encouraging, recognizing and advocating for women who choose engineering as a career path by investing in the Leadership in Innovation Award; an investment in our future.

Alumni and friends can donate to the award fund.