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Board announces 2020 Emma Quartaro Woman of the Year award

The Woman of the Year Committee has selected Dr. Cecilia Marzabadi as the recipient of the 2020 Woman of the Year Award.
Formally known as the Emma Quartaro Woman of the Year Award, this award recognizes women of the Seton Hall University community who are successful leaders and who honor their contributions and commitment to women’s issues.

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According to the Woman of the Year committee, the recipient of this award “should embody the characteristics of integrity and leadership, whether in the classroom, the office, or the Seton Hall Community at large.”

Committee member and English professor, Dr. Mary Balkun explained another major aspect that the award represents.

“It’s especially important that the award acknowledges women who help and support other women, whether in the form of mentoring, giving them a voice or working to improve conditions for women,” Balkun said.

Dr. Marzabadi, professor in the chemistry and biochemistry department, is being recognized for her support of women in the STEM field. Dr. Marzabadi has been part of the Seton Hall community for 21 years. Her published work includes books called “Dissolving Disparity, Catalyzing Change: Are Women Achieving Equity in Chemistry?” and “Mom, the Chemistry Professor.”

Dr. Marzabadi has also written several articles, including “Elucidating Gender Patterns” and “Women, Science and Myth: Gender Beliefs.”

Dr. Marzabadi also offers her expertise as a faculty member to WiSTEM, a student-run organization on campus that encourages a supportive community for women who plan to pursue a career in the field of STEM.

She is also part of the new faculty Women in STEM/STEAM group, which was a driving force for the creation of WiSTEM. Both the student organization and faculty group show their excitement for collaboration in the future.

Balkun, who played a role in the selection of Dr. Marzabadi shared her thoughts on how Dr. Marzabadi stood out in the pool of impressive candidates.

“Her research, her teaching and her service have all been informed by her commitment to supporting women and especially women in the sciences,” Balkun said. “She has written about this issue, spoken about it, worked with female colleagues on behalf of it and encouraged others to do the same. She is truly an inspiration, to her colleagues as well as to her students.”

While remaining humble, Dr. Marzabadi says she was at first surprised that she received this award. Dr. Marzabadi acknowledged her highly qualified colleagues who were also in the running for the award.

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But after getting past the shock of receiving the award, Dr. Marzabadi says that it serves as recognition for her efforts in encouraging women in the STEM fields. When speaking about the award, she said, “it represents an umbrella of my entire life and culminates the last 20 years of my life.”

When discussing her motivators, Dr. Marzabadi says that she wants to reach out to younger generations, especially as a woman who has seen the gender underrepresentation in her field firsthand.

She reflected that in her position in the field of sciences, she noticed the lack of women around her and the shortage of female minds in the STEM careers in general.

She summed up by saying “The road to our success is paved by the women that came before us,” before going on to say that women need to promote themselves in any field of work and become a leader even when gender disparity issues are present.

The Woman of the Year Award was created by the Women’s Faculty Association in 1997 and “the goal was to recognize and reward the work of women on campus, which had long gone unrecognized,” Dr. Balkun said.

This award is named in honor of Dr. Emma G. Quartaro, who was a professor of social work.

According to Balkun, “Dr. Quartaro and the Gerontology Advisory Board were instrumental in maintaining the Woman of the Year Award for many years.”

This award looks for specific impact on behalf of the candidate’s part on the position of women in the Seton Hall community.

Dr. Marzabadi, when discussing the honor, highlighted her gratitude for the Seton Hall community and the committee. Dr. Marzabadi will be honored for this award at the luncheon of the Conference on Women and Gender on March 13.

Laura Maltez-Barahona can be reached at


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