Women's Faculty Caucus Distinguished Mentor Award: Abigail  Richards, Founders Day Faculty Awards, Academic Year 2022-23. Portrait of Abigail  Richards.

Abigail Richards

Abbie Richards, associate professor and head of the Department of Chemical and Biological Engineering, has won the 2023 Women's Faculty Caucus Distinguished Mentor Award, which recognizes extraordinary efforts by a faculty or staff member in mentoring women students, staff, research associates and faculty at MSU. The award is sponsored by the MSU Women's Faculty Caucus and carries a $2,000 honorarium. 

Richards, who joined MSU 15 years ago and has served as department head since 2020, is known to go above and beyond to support students and mentor faculty. Her colleagues value her approachability and open-door policy. Faculty and students alike seek her counsel in navigating career and life challenges, knowing they can depend on her empathy, relatability and perspective. She also models and provides advice about best practices for teaching and advising students. 

Woven through her mentorship is an effort to support women who might otherwise struggle from lack of female advocates and colleagues in their field. Women make up only 18% of engineering faculty in the U.S. and face unique challenges while raising their families, according to the nominators. Richards is “on the forefront of reducing bias and increasing diversity,” they wrote. 

“Throughout her years at MSU, Dr. Richards has been extraordinarily supportive of women,” her seven nominators wrote. “The environment she cultivates in our department and at MSU is one of trust, fairness, collegiality and support for all.”