SAVE-THE-DATE: April 24, 2020

2020 Keynote Speaker: Dr. Sara Ruane

Research Areas

Sara began her career in herpetology by going for walks in the woods with her grandmother in northeastern Pennsylvania, with her grandmother always encouraging her to flip over rocks and logs to see what was under them; this quickly turned into a passion for finding herps, especially snakes! Sara did her undergrad work at UMass Amherst, a MS at the University of Central Arkansas where she focused on turtle ecology, and a PhD at City University of New York with a focus on snake systematics (how snakes are related to each other). Her work on disentangling and revising milksnake taxonomy during her dissertation was followed by postdoctoral positions at the American Museum of Natural History studying snakes of Madagascar and then a second postdoc at LSU’s Museum of Natural Science. At LSU, Sara pioneered a method that allowed for extracting and sequencing DNA from old preserved museum specimens, which had previously proven challenging. In 2017, Sara started her current position at Rutgers University Newark, where she is an assistant professor in the Department of Biological Sciences. The Ruane Lab seeks to simultaneously inform reptile and amphibian systematics while also answering broad, contemporary questions in evolutionary biology. Current research focuses on examining undescribed diversity for poorly known New Guinean snakes, for which Sara recently received a National Science Foundation award. New and upcoming research from the Ruane Lab includes co-historical demography and genetic diversity of New Jersey squamates in the Pine Barrens and understanding urban snake population dynamics and gene flow. While Sara’s interests in herpetology are broad, her lab focuses primarily on snakes, especially with respect to systematics, phylogenetics, and phylogeography. Besides snakes, Sara loves the color pink, chicken wings, and poodles (but not necessarily in that order)!

                                        GPS in Action!

Girl Power in STEM (GPS) is a unique opportunity for 8th graders in Arkansas to gain hands-on experience and learn about the role women play in careers related to science, technology, engineering, and math.  The event is hosted on the campus at the University of Central Arkansas (UCA).  Attendees will interact directly with female professionals (primarily from Arkansas) and current UCA students to develop a greater understanding of their own potential and power. This exceptional event will encourage students to pursue academic excellence in their high school and college years, as well as providing them with a “college day” experience. Girl Power in STEM aims to empower students at a time in their life when they tend to lose interest in science. Eighth grade is a pivotal age, when girls internalize negative stereotypes that discourage academic achievement and face increased peer expectations and social pressures. This conference commends girls for both their current successes and future potential, and gives attendees the chance to visualize what they can become if they aim high and continue to achieve. In addition, when attendees hear from women who came from similar backgrounds and towns, they learn that with hard work and support, careers in these fields are attainable and rewarding! Join us April 24, 2020 at the University of Central Arkansas for this year’s GPS conference. Estimated Participation: 300 students from around the state

2020 Registration Form

Permission Slip

Volunteer Registration

Agenda 2020

GPS Evaluation

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Media Release Form

Speaker Registration Form


Leigh Ann DenHartog 501-450-5160

Jan Davis 501-514-4508

Ginny Adams

Sponsorship Levels

Tier 1 – $5,000 and above (Presenting or Conference Sponsor)
Tier 2 – $2,500 – $4,999 (Gold Sponsor)
Tier 3 – $1,000 – $2,499 (Silver Sponsor)
Tier 4 – $500 – $999 (Bronze Sponsor)
Tier 5 – $250 – $499 (Partner Sponsor)
Donations less than $250 will be considered ‘friends or supporters.’

GPS 2019 Platinum

GPS 2019 Gold Sponsors:

  • Acxiom T-Shirt Sponsor

GPS 2019 Silver Sponsors:

  • Community Foundation

GPS 2019 Bronze Sponsors:

  • Domino’s Pizza

  • Rogers Group

  • Conway Corporation

GPS 2019 Partner Sponsors:

  • Conway Regional Hospital 

  • UCA Admission

  • Baptist Health Conway

  • Entergy

  • Virco

  • Julie’s Sweet Shoppe

  • US Pizza