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March Heritage Month

To see more first for Vanderbilt women visit here.

Padma Raghavan

Padma Raghavan is a Professor of Computer Science in the Department of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science at Vanderbilt University, where she is also Vice Provost for Research. Prior to joining Vanderbilt in February 2016, she was a Distinguished Professor of Computer Science and Engineering at the Pennsylvania State University and served as the Associate Vice President for Research and Director of Strategic Initiatives, in addition to being the founding Director of the Institute for CyberScience, the coordinating unit on campus for developing interdisciplinary computation and data-enabled science and engineering and the provider of high-performance computing services for the university. Raghavan received her Ph.D. in computer science from Penn State. Prior to joining Penn State in August 2000, she served as an associate professor in the Department of Computer Science at the University of Tennessee and as a research scientist at the Oak Ridge National Laboratory.


Kate Lupton

On June 20, 1877, just two years after it opened its doors to students, Vanderbilt University granted its first undergraduate degrees during a grand Commencement ceremony held in the chapel of Kirkland Hall, which was known in those early days as Main Hall.

One of the most accomplished of students in those years was Kate Lupton, who had met requirements for a certificate in the Department of Latin. Lupton, however, did not receive any kind of recognition that day. The Board of Trust, when notified of her eligibility, had voted to postpone action in the matter.

Founded for the education of young men, Vanderbilt from its earliest days allowed a handful of women to attend classes as “listeners.” Lupton was not allowed to enroll formally, but professors permitted her to attend classes and take exams. Her father, Nathaniel T. Lupton, one of Vanderbilt’s founding faculty members, was a professor of chemistry from 1874 to 1885.


Adena Friedman

Ever since Friedman became the first woman to lead a major U.S. stock exchange in January, she has been modernizing Nasdaq. While publicly pushing for government reforms to encourage more initial public offerings, she launched Nasdaq Analytics Hub, a data platform that provides investment signals to the buy side. She also purchased eVestment Inc., a data provider for hedge fund managers and institutional investors, for $705 million. Making inroads into the digital data business should help offset the stagnation in Nasdaq’s traditional core business of trading. But Friedman still has challenges ahead. The number of publicly traded U.S. companies is half of what it was in the 1990s.


Susan Wente 

Wente, born in Nebraska and raised in rural Iowa, earned her bachelor of science from the University of Iowa, graduating with honors and high distinction in biochemistry. She went on to the University of California–Berkeley, where she received a Ph.D. in biochemistry. She did post-doctoral work at Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center in New York as well as a fellowship at Rockefeller University.

In 1996, while on the faculty at Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, she and her colleagues discovered Gle1, a protein involved in gene regulation.

She came to Vanderbilt in 2002 as professor and chair of Cell and Developmental Biology. Six years later, a link between the Gle1 gene and a lethal human fetal disease was reported. Her lab continues to explore the communications pathways within cells between the nucleus and cytoplasm.

In 2011, Wente received the Women in Cell Biology Senior Career Recognition Award from the American Society of Cell Biology. In 2010 she received a prestigious MERIT (Method to Extend Research in Time) award, given only to the best scientists in the nation, from the National Institutes of Health to continue her research on nuclear pore complexes.

She was recently named a “2014 Woman to Watch” by Nashville Medical News.


Judge Martha Craig Daughtrey

Martha Craig Daughtrey, attorney, law professor, and judge, was born on July 21, 1942, in Covington, Kentucky. She received a B.A. (cum laude) from Vanderbilt University in 1964 and graduated from Vanderbilt University School of Law in 1968. Her academic honors included election to Phi Beta Kappa and Order of the Coif.

Daughtrey was admitted to the Tennessee bar in 1968, and after a brief period in private practice in Nashville she joined the U.S. attorney’s office as an assistant U.S. attorney (1968-69). From 1969 to 1972 she was an assistant district attorney for Davidson County.

In 1972 Daughtrey became the first woman appointed to the faculty of Vanderbilt University School of Law, serving as an assistant professor, 1972-75. She also taught there as lecturer (1971-72 and 1976-88) and adjunct professor (1988-90).