Stanford undergrad named IF/THEN ambassador

Erin Smith, ’23, is among the Stanford affiliates who are serving as mentors to young girls interested in STEM fields.

Stanford undergraduate student Erin Smith has been selected to serve as an IF/THEN ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. The role comes with financial support for her work providing mentorship and encouragement to girls interested in STEM fields.

Stanford student Erin Smith, ’23, has been selected to serve as an IF/THEN ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science. (Image credit: Courtesy Erin Smith)

Mentors have played a pivotal role in Smith’s life and pursuit of science, which is why she’s eager to pass along her knowledge and encouragement to others.

“I am looking forward to the opportunity to engage with young students and help shape their futures,” Smith said. “I am excited to help spark curiosity and exploration via science and hands-on learning.”

Smith is among 125 women – from a pool of 700 applicants nationwide – selected to serve as ambassadors. She is also one of four Stanford affiliates selected for the program, including postdoctoral scholar Helen Tran and graduate students Dorothy Tovar and Catie Cuan. Each is an innovative leader in her field and, with financial support, will participate in events, programming and media campaigns to encourage young girls to pursue their interests in STEM.

The ambassadors recently attended the IF/THEN Summit in Dallas, Texas, where they participated in a full-body scan that produced life-sized 3D-printed statues of the ambassadors – the largest collection of statues of women. Ambassadors will also work with Bay Area Girl Scout troops, appear on the network television series Mission Unstoppable about women working on cutting-edge STEM projects and participate in media campaigns.

Stanford affiliates named to the first class of IF/THEN ambassadors

Catie Cuan and Helen Tran are among 125 women innovators nationwide who are serving as mentors to young girls interested in STEM fields.

“I have loved getting to know the other ambassadors,” Smith said. “I am inspired by their work, tenacity and focus on building a STEMinist future.”

Smith grew up in Lenexa, Kansas, and is the founder of FacePrint, an AI tool to detect and monitor Parkinson’s disease and commonly misidentified neurological disorders using video technology and early-stage facial expression indicators.

Although Smith has yet to declare a major, she said she is interested in the intersection of neuroscience and computer science and is focused on building the future of neurological and mental healthcare.

“I believe in a future where brain health is objective, personalized and preemptive,” she said. “My ultimate goal is to advance brain science discoveries and translate these findings from the lab to make them readily available and accessible.”

The IF/THEN initiative is based on the idea that if women in STEM fields are supported, then they can change the world. The program is supported by a $25 million commitment from Dallas-based Lyda Hill Philanthropies. It is also a partnership with the American Association for the Advancement of Science, which works to advance science, engineering and innovation throughout the world for the benefit of all people.