Magnussen began outreach activities for women in the sciences early in her career at Texas A&M University. Along with two fellow graduate students, she started Texas A&M's Women in Science and Engineering (WISE) program. Once a fledgling collection of the few female students on campus, the program is now a vital network for female faculty and students. WISE also hosts an annual conference that promotes the exchange of information about the challenges women face in preparing for and pursuing successful careers in technical fields.
"Our whole focus was to identify strategies that had worked for successful women scientists and engineers and to share these ideas with young women who were pursuing graduate degrees in science and technology," Magnussen recalls. This goal shapes her work still.
In 1996, after several years of devoting her personal time to women's outreach programs, Magnussen was appointed director of educational outreach and women's programs in the dean's office of the College of Science. In this position, she serves as the director of WISE and works closely with the Women's Faculty Network (WFN).
Under her leadership, the groups' goals have grown to include recruiting and mentoring undergraduate and graduate women in science and engineering and sponsoring informal lunches, seminars, and a popular annual conference for women and minority science graduate students.
In addition, WFN aims to support women faculty throughout the College of Science. The group sponsors scholarships, lobbies for projects important to women on campus and oversees a mentoring program that pairs senior and junior women faculty.
Magnussen believes in positive role models for women of all ages. She assisted with the coordination of the "Women in Discovery" series that brought outstanding senior women scientists to campus and continues to organize the ongoing Ethel Ashworth-Tsutsui Memorial Lecture and Awards for female students in both research and mentoring. Magnussen is also involved in outreach to young science enthusiasts in the area. She oversees numerous research competitions that challenge high school students around Texas to delve deeper into science and technology.
Magnussen earned B.A. degrees in history and chemistry from the University of Minnesota-Duluth and her Ph.D. in chemistry from Texas A&M. She resides in College Station, Texas.
The Regional Award for Contributions to Diversity, given to commemorate the ACS Women's Chemists Committee's 75th anniversary celebration, recognizes individuals who have stimulated or fostered diversity in the chemical workplace.