UWF to host retired NASA astronaut at 16th annual Women’s Studies Conference

The University of West Florida Women’s, Gender & Sexuality Studies program and Women’s Studies Collective will host the 16th annual Women’s Studies Conference from 8 a.m. to 8 p.m. Friday, March 24 at the UWF Conference Center, Building 22, on the Pensacola campus.

Throughout the conference, there will be selected student presentations of scholarly papers and posters, as well as visual and performance art exploring issues related to women, gender and sexuality. Former NASA astronaut and retired U.S. Navy Capt. Wendy B. Lawrence will deliver the keynote address at 6 p.m.

“The Women’s Studies Conference provides students a local opportunity to develop and present their undergraduate or graduate work in an academic and professional environment,” said Sydney Stone, co-president of the Women’s Studies Collective. “We have had a wide variety of submissions from students in several departments on campus, which demonstrate the intersectionality of women, gender and sexuality studies, and showcase the diversity and relativity of these issues. We hope to make the 2017 conference the most diverse and successful yet.”

Lawrence, who served as mission specialist on four space shuttle flights, is also the recipient of multiple commendations as a naval officer and helicopter pilot and one of the first two female helicopter pilots to make a long deployment over the Indian Ocean. Currently, Lawrence dedicates her time to educating the public about NASA’s spaceflight programs at the Kennedy Space Center, and she is actively involved in developing STEM, or science, technology, engineering and mathematics, education programs.

“Capt. Lawrence’s presence will draw a diverse audience of UWF students and scholars and others from the Pensacola community,” said Jordan Thames, co-president of the Women’s Studies Collective. “As an expert on the topic of women in science, she serves as an example of how women, gender and sexuality issues have a far-reaching audience, and impact a wide variety of fields in both the local community and worldwide.”

During a noon luncheon, the 2017 Mary F. Rogers Faculty Award will be presented to Dr. Dione King, assistant professor in the Department of Social Work. King’s research primarily focuses on health behaviors and health disparities that impact the adolescent and young adult life experience. She will share a presentation of her work, “Dating violence as a health-risk behavior: Exploring the presence of dating violence in the lives of adolescents and young adult women.”

The Women’s Studies Conference is free and open to the public, but registration is required. The first 50 registered attendees will receive a complimentary lunch.

Founded in 2014, the Women’s Studies Collective is an interdisciplinary student organization invested in the vitality of women’s studies at UWF. Meeting monthly to discuss feminist-minded publications and the implications of these texts, WSC members establish personal and professional networks that not only better them as individuals and students but also as invested members of the academic and local community. The WSC continues to facilitate a more pronounced public impact through several collaborative projects with other university-recognized organizations and local nonprofits.

The UWF Women’s, Gender and Sexuality Studies program is housed within the College of Arts, Social Sciences and Humanities. For more information about the Women’s Studies Conference, visit