Woman in STEM: Dr. Juliane Strauss-Soukup

Nebraska Women in STEM talked to Creighton University Associate Vice Provost of Research and Scholarship Dr. Juliane Strauss-Soukup about her path to leadership

At 12 years old, Dr. Juliane Strauss-Soukup was diagnosed with type 1 diabetes, and it sparked her passion for medical research. “I got really interested in what was wrong with me, and it’s all science. I got interested in chemistry and biochemistry at that point.”

Strauss-Soukup grew up in Plattsmouth, Neb., with math and science teachers in middle school and high school who encouraged her and provided opportunities to go above and beyond in her learning. Initially, she thought she would become an MD, but in college, she learned about opportunities to pursue a PhD and thought, “That’s what I want to do; the research rather than the treatment.”

Strauss-Soukup did her undergraduate studies at Creighton University and pursued her PhD in Biochemistry at UNMC. She knew she wanted to have a family someday, but while in college, she saw very few women faculty and even fewer with children. She became worried about being able to be a mother and a researcher, but her passion for research overcame her doubts.

When she came back to Creighton to be a professor and researcher, she knew she wanted to be a role model to young women. “I needed to make sure to always be open with students and talk to them about those kinds of things. I had one child when I got this job, and I wanted to make sure they knew you can be married, have children, and still do the science and teach.”

In 2013, she became the Director of the new Center for Undergraduate Research and Scholarship at Creighton and was in the role until 2020 when she became Associate Vice Provost. She is proud of how many women in leadership there are at Creighton. 

Her advice to women earlier in their careers is to “try the hard things. I never thought when I went to grad school that I’d be a vice provost. I like the job, and I like having some say in the things that we are doing with programming and goals we have with regards to research .”

“Being willing to share your story and your struggles is helpful, too, for students and young faculty to hear. I wrote 10 grants before I finally got one. Show your whole self. People who are successful were not always successful.” 

While administrative duties fill much of her time, she still gets time in her laboratory with students. Her lab is studying the structure and function of riboswitches and is currently working on publishing what they believe is the discovery of a new riboswitch in humans. 

Strauss-Soukup finds joy in discovery and the enthusiasm and gratitude of her students. She tells her students, “When we obtain a new result, we are the only people in the entire world that know this right now. It is so inspiring.”