Patent expert Dr. Stacie Ropka is a partner in Axinn’s Hartford office who holds a PhD in microbiology and immunology. Her law practice focuses on IP litigation, due diligence and client counseling in the life sciences, biologics and biologic-based pharmaceuticals sectors.

Ropka began her career in biology and worked at both Northwestern University and SUNY Upstate Medical University as a research scientist in the fields of neurology, virology and immunology. She taught and engaged in original research primarily on the role of immunity in motor neuron disease. Presenting her research findings at numerous scientific conferences and in several peer-reviewed journals, she contributed significantly to the field of biology. She is published in numerous legal and scientific areas.

After two decades working in biology, Ropka switched careers and went to Syracuse University College of Law, where she earned magna cum laude honors. She ultimately joined Axinn in 2007 and has served on the trial team for several high-profile patent lawsuits involving major pharmaceutical companies.

In the words of Dr. Stacie Ropka:

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?
“As more women head-up research departments I expect more women in entry-level positions to be given opportunities to fully engage in research, allowing them to develop expertise in their chosen STEM field.”

How can the world increase diversity in STEM fields?
“It starts in grade school – science must be presented with all the excitement and enthusiasm that is inherent in the STEM fields. Children must become engaged early through an inquiry-based curriculum and that engagement must be nurtured as students enter 7th and 8th grade and continue throughout high school. Then, women must be encouraged to study STEM in college, obtaining undergraduate degrees and often advanced degrees in their chosen STEM field. Finally, with the educational foundation in place, there must be meaningful opportunities available for solving problems and creating solutions in the STEM fields.”

What barriers are in the way to closing the gender gap in STEM?
“While more and more women are obtaining advanced degrees in STEM it is less clear if they are obtaining meaningful experiences applying their education. Equal opportunities to become active and contribute to STEM fields will close the gender gap.”

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?
“The scientific community, which is global in nature, will continue to look for answers. Each discovery provides some answers but presents many new questions. Every scientist will need to stand on the shoulders of those who came before. Each answer we find brings us closer to understanding our world and, globally, there is a demand for answers.”

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?
“Women need mentors who will provide them with the opportunities to gain meaningful research experiences in STEM fields.”