Dr. Usha Rao is a researcher, Keynote speaker, and consultant. She is a recipient of the Association for Women in Science’s Zenith award, a lifetime leadership and achievement award. She has also received the Distinguished Research Lectureship from the Association for Women Geoscientists, and the Bingham Mentoring Award from the Philadelphia chapter of AWIS, awarded to a “distinguished scientist who has significantly influenced the advancement of women in science”. Dr. Rao was selected by Pennsylvania Governor Wolf to participate in the “PA Women in STEM” video series. She serves as a writer and speaker on leadership, mentoring, and sustainability for many US and international organizations, most recently contributing to an issue of Lab Manager that won a Tabbie Gold award for journalism.
Dr. Rao's teaching was recognized with the Lindback Foundation's Christian R. and Mary F. Lindback Medal for Distinguished University Teaching. She has also received three merit awards for "exceptional achievement in teaching" at Saint Joseph's University and was selected as a Most Valuable Professor (MVP) by the women's basketball team.
At Saint Joseph's, Dr. Rao co-developed the John P. McNulty Program for Leadership in Science and Mathematics, an initiative that has supported 130 gifted students since 2009. She also created the University’s first faculty development office to provide resources and mentoring to hundreds of faculty members, serving as the Founding Director. Dr. Rao’s board service includes the Ardmore Library of the Lower Merion Library System and the Frances M. Maguire Art Museum at the Barnes Foundation.
B.Sc. University of Bombay
Ph.D. University of Rochester
Post-doctoral training, Environmental Research Council Fellow in the Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering and the Department of Geological Sciences, Northwestern University
Dr. Rao’s research focuses on water chemistry and sustainability. She has mentored many research students who have gone on to successful careers in industry and academia.
Dr. Rao is a coordinating editor for Environmental Geochemistry and Health, the official journal of the Society for Environmental Geochemistry and Health, published by Springer-Nature. She serves as an Approved Expert Reviewer for the Nobel-prize winning United Nations’ Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change (UN IPCC) and as a Mentor for Vice President Gore’s Climate Reality initiative.
Her research at SJU has been funded by the National Science Foundation, the American Chemical Society Petroleum Research Fund, the Lindback Foundation Minority Research Program, Purdue University’s PRIME particle accelerator laboratory, the Michael J. Morris Grant Program, and Saint Joseph’s University Board on Faculty Development and Research.