As a psychologist with a visual impairment,
Maria Dolores Cimini advocates for access to STEM
education for today’s students with disabilities.
BY ANNA MILLER • Monitor staff
Most psychology graduate students in the 1980s ran their dissertation data analyses using computer programs. Maria Dolores Cimini didn’t have that
luxury. Blind in one eye and visually impaired in the other from
glaucoma at age 16, Cimini was painstakingly cranking out
t tests and other analyses with a marker, paper and calculator.
Speech-recognition statistical programs hadn’t been invented
Nevertheless, Cimini excelled as an undergraduate at
Barnard College and as a doctoral student in the University
at Albany’s, State University of New York clinical psychology
program. She earned her PhD in 1986 and landed a job in the
university’s counseling center, where today she directs programs
to prevent substance abuse, suicide, sexual assault, eating
disorders and other high-risk behaviors among college students.
And since 2004 alone, she has brought in more than $6
million in federal grants from funders including the National
Institutes of Health, the Substance Abuse and Mental Health
Services Administration, the U.S. Department of Justice Office
on Violence Against Women and the U.S. Department of
Education, mostly to support the development, implementation
and evaluation of such programs.
Now, Cimini is working to ensure that other students who have
disabilities and are in the STEM (science, technology, engineering
and math) disciplines get the support they need, when they need
it. Last year, the White House named her a “Champion of Change”