October 19, 2021
PSD’s October spotlight is Sarah Lippert, newly appointed Assistant Dean of Students in the Physical Sciences Division. Sarah has been with the University of Chicago since December 2008.
Where are you from?
My hometown is Grayslake, Illinois, and I’ve lived in Chicago for 16 years. I attended college in Minnesota at Gustavus Adolphus College (Go Gusties!) and consider Minnesota my “second home” state.
What do you enjoy about being a part of the PSD community?
I love that the PSD is a community of problem-solvers. Scientists are driven to solve problems in their research, but in the PSD that extends beyond the bench to issues in our community.
Tell us a bit about you.
I’m actually a theologian by education—I have a bachelor’s and a master’s in theology, focused on culture and ethics. Theologians study both the “big picture” ideas of religious thought and systematic belief, but also the praxis of how to make those ideas effective. Thinking in both “big” ways and practical ways has been an important part of how I work as an administrator.
My dad worked in corporate finance until he retired, and my mom is an artist, so I grew up rooted in both worlds. I thrive on organization and detail, but also seek out creative outlets to express myself and de-stress. I love to read (non-fiction and The New Yorker) and I’m an avid knitter. I’m an active member of my church, Holy Trinity Lutheran Church (ELCA) in Lakeview. I’m also a big Chicago Blackhawks fan—one of my favorite “Chicago moments” is entering the United Center and the smell of the ice before a Hawks game!
Who inspires you?
I am inspired by anyone who takes action against injustice when they witness it. My sister, Sharon, inspires me every day; she is incredibly selfless in caring for other people and animals. She constantly seeks to educate herself about social justice issues and our conversations on justice and equality galvanize me.
What is the most interesting thing that you are working on right now?
In my new role as assistant dean, I hope to introduce more division-wide health and wellness initiatives for graduate students, especially pertaining to mental health.
In my home life, I’m currently knitting an “Irish fisherman”-style sweater. I like to give myself challenging projects to work on so that I learn new techniques and different kinds of stitches.
What does diversity and inclusion mean to you?
To me, diversity and inclusion mean that everyone has a seat at the table, and we take into account everyone’s story and experience when we discern what is best for the community. I’m deeply interested in learning about the experiences that contribute to who a person becomes, and why those events are significant to them.
Who had the most influence on you growing up?
My high school history teacher, Mr. DiMatteo was an incredible mentor to me. He saw my enthusiasm for history and gave me books to read, let me stay after class to discuss historical events, and even gave me the opportunity to “guest lecture” in my AP European History course on a subject of my choosing. As a teenager, I was picked on a lot, and Mr. DiMatteo always bolstered my confidence and gave me a reason to be proud of myself and my accomplishments.
What three words best describe you?
Ebullient, considerate, open.
If they made a movie about your life, what genre would it be and who would play you?
It would be an indie comedy written, directed by, and starring Greta Gerwig (as me).