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OWU's Ichida Receives AWIS' Highest Honor

March 3, 2005

[ Jan Ichida with former Student ] DELAWARE, OHIO -- Ohio Wesleyan's Jann Ichida received the highest honor the Association of Women in Science can bestow upon an individual when she was named an AWIS Fellow during a ceremony in Washington, D.C., on Feb. 21.

"It was a great way to start the semester," Ichida said of learning of the award. "We'd just returned from break and I received a phone call, e-mail, and letter saying that I had been chosen. It was such a pleasant surprise to be selected for this honor."

Showing the character that has made her a favorite of hundreds of Ohio Wesleyan alumni through the years, Ichida quickly deflected the praise to her nominator, Dr. Laura Tuhela-Reuning, and the alumni who nominated her for this award.

"I know how much work it is to nominate for awards, and the effort they put in was great," says Ichida.

However, Tuhela-Reuning is quick to deflect the praise back to Ichida.

"Jann definitely deserves to be honored. It was kind of fun nominating her. I contacted 15 former students through e-mail asking for their help. All of them got back to me within a day. I think that says something about the effect that Jann had on them."
It has always been about the students for Ichida. She was instrumental in the NSF grant that led to the purchase of the George Burns Scanning Electron Microscope, and is co-principle writer, along with Professor Edward "Jed" Burtt, on two NSF grants over the past eight years that have received more than $1.6 million for the study of feather degradation. Ichida, and Tuhela-Reuning, were instrumental in assisting current senior Heather Costello in receiving Ohio Wesleyan's first American Society of Microbiology undergraduate research fellowship (Read more about this story).
Ichida and the rest of the department have made an effort to include students. "Over the last ten years, I've taken students to meetings in Los Angeles, Salt Lake City, New Orleans, Washington, D.C., Miami, Atlanta, Italy and Austria," says Ichida. "We want to help students experience the 'graduate experience' and begin getting that exposure and networking experience."
[ Jan Ichida with Daughter ]Ichida's network at Ohio Wesleyan dates back to 1963, when she joined husband, Allan, on the faculty at Ohio Wesleyan. Over her 42 years with the University she has served as microbiology research associate (1963-1972), instructor of microbiology (1972-1984) and as an adjunct research professor (1984-present). In addition to her other roles she has been the microbiology laboratory coordinator since 1969 and the biosafety and chemical hygiene officer since 1991. Sabbaticals to University of California, Berkeley, and the University of Georgia also figure in the mix.
"I don't think anyone expected us to come back from the first sabbatical in Berkeley," said a spirited Ichida. "But we came back, built a house, raised a family, and are still here today."
It was that spirit, which got Ichida in some "hot-water" with faculty wives.
"I made quite a stir here when I came back to teach after my girls were born," recalls Ichida. "I was the only faculty member's wife in Bigelow-Rice that was working with small children. You didn't do that, but I worked part-time until the girls were old enough to take care of themselves and came back full-time."
Come back she did, going back to school at The Ohio State University for a master's degree in preventive medicine and epidemiology. "Audrey [her daughter] noticed that I was studying for a biostatistics final exam during her high school graduation ceremony," says Ichida.
Allan and Jann's daughters obviously caught the bug as both have earned Ph.D.s, Audrey in Plant Molecular Biology from UC-San Diego and Jennifer in Neuroscience from Vanderbilt.
Ichida is originally from southwest Wisconsin and earned her bachelor's degree from the University of Wisconsin. She credits her late father, Joe Machotka, with developing her love of science and persuading her to attend university to study science. Her 89-year-old mother, June, still giggles in delight at the 14 graduate students from eight countries that Jann would invite to the family farm for Thanksgiving.
AWIS Fellows program recognizes and honors women and men who have demonstrated exemplary commitment to the achievement of equity for women in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. The 2005 class is the 19th to receive Fellow status. The honor is bestowed in conjunction with the annual American Association for the Advancement of Science meeting "The Nexus: Where Science Meets Society."