1. TELL ME WHEN YOU FIRST FELL IN LOVE WITH SCIENCE.
"At a young age I read lots of books, but my all time favorite book was Ms. Frizzle's Magic School Bus. I would just sit and listen and read and then it even came on television and it really came to life. I was just fascinated with Ms. Frizzle and how she just loved science.
My freshman year of undergraduate I was involved in the Research Initiative for Science Enhancement program (RISE) and it made me fall in love with figuring out cures versus traditional medicine and being a physician. Being at the bench and knowing that whatever we discovered there was going to save someone's life. In undergrad, one of my longest projects was in sickle cell anemia and I know I wanted to just keep finding cures for people."
2. WHO IS YOUR SCIENTIFIC SHE-ROE?
"Hadiyah Nicole Green, PhD. She is a basic transitional scientist in cancer research and nano-particles. I've followed her through literature and was really proud of her for receiving a $1 Million grant. She isn't too much older than me so she really makes me believe it can be done and you can be successful. She has a really good reason as to why she does her research and helps me to keep perspective on why I do mine. It's rare to see an African-American woman in her field AND at the caliber she has achieved. I just hope to be like her one day."
3. WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS PARTICULAR FIELD OF STEM THAT YOU ARE IN?
"I was always leaning towards cancer biology and my first year of graduate school I had five members of my family get diagnosed or die from cancer and I was really overwhelmed by that. It kind of reinforced by commitment to making cancer less devastating in my family and other families, especially in the deep south. Most times by the time we figure out that something is wrong its already so far advanced. The cardiovascular piece came in from realizing that a lot of our chemo-therapies were actually hurting the heart. So we might cure breast cancer but then were giving someone heart disease and I think we can do a better job of that so that's why I'm trying to do both."
4. TELL ME ABOUT YOUR GREATEST PROFESSIONAL ACHIEVEMENT.
"Publishing my Post Doctoral Research entitled, "Angiokine Wisp-1 is increased in myocardial infarction and regulates cardiac endothelial signaling" in the Journal of Clinical Investigation Insight. I had to do the research and write the paper and go through that whole process and it was really tough. I was really proud of it and am one of the first scientist in the country to have investigated that topic."
5. WHAT IS ONE OF THE HARDEST CHALLENGES YOU HAVE FACED THUS FAR?
"Being an African-American woman in biomedical research. I've been in circumstances where before even people care about my science they're trying to figure out why I'm even in the room and that can be a little frustrating. I've had people not give me the respect of the Doctorate that I've earned. They'll call everyone else in the room Dr. but me, I'll just be Lily.
Learning to be self-assertive and overcome that and keep going and pick your battles and always keep the bigger picture in mind. You name the -ism; racism, sexism, ageism... all of it I've definitely experienced so far in my career but just keep going, that's been my way to get over all my hard challenges."
6. WHAT DO YOU BELIEVE IS THE BIGGEST CHALLENGES FACING BLACK WOMEN TODAY?
"From what I've experienced, not being able to get in the rooms and then when you are in the room you're faced with so many micro and macro aggressions. Science is hard. You get way more failures than successes, so to add onto that, the emotional tax, where you'll probably be the only one there who you looks like you is hard and that's okay. People try to remind me that I'm the only one in the room who looks like me, but hey, LET'S FOCUS ON MY SCIENCE."
7. WHAT ADVICE WOULD YOU GIVE TO A YOUNG BLACK STEMINISTA TODAY?
"Set your intentions. Whatever you intend and deep in your heart want to do keep that in the forefront of your mind because it's so easy for things to distract you. Know your why!
I know everyone has different spiritual beliefs but for me its been helpful to have a relationship with God and know that I can do all things through Christ. Having faith in something greater than myself."
8. HOW DO YOU DEAL WITH PRESSURE?
"First I figure out where the pressure is coming from because a lot of the times you look up and realize its pressure to complete someone else's goals. If its a personal pressure I try to break it down into pieces, what can I tackle right now? When's the deadline? What can be done? Can I ask for help? Can I delegate this? Can I try again next cycle? Just making sure you're okay in that realm. And this may sound crazy but just drinking water and having snacks because when you feel pressure and anxiety sometimes your brain can shut down from basic things that you need and you look up and its 8 o'clock and you realize you haven't even had a sip of water and your body needs that. So stepping back and seeing where I can implement self-care during pressure filled times has been helpful."
9. HAVE YOUR EVER EXPERIENCED IMPOSTER SYNDROME. EXPLAIN.
"When I was interviewing for my Post Doc at all these places, Ivy League places...big name places. And I would look up and I would be so nervous and I would think all these weird things, like they don't really want me here, they just need someone who is African-American. And as I was doing my talks and my presentations I would realize, man I really am the technical/content expert of what I'm presenting so I belong here, I'm okay here, and I can thrive in any environment."
10. In 1903, W.E.B DU BOIS COINED THE TERM "DOUBLE CONSCIOUSNESS" IN HIS BOOK THE SOULS OF BLACK FOLK. HE STATES, "IT IS A PECULIAR SENSATION, THIS DOUBLE-CONSCIOUSNESS, THIS SENSE OF ALWAYS LOOKING AT ONE'S SELF THROUGH THE EYES OF OTHERS, OF MEASURING'S ONE'S SOUL BY THE TAPE OF A WORLD THAT LOOKS ON IN AMUSED CONTEMPT AND PITY. ONE EVER FEELS HIS OWN TWO-NESS, AN AMERICAN, A NEGRO; TWO SOULS, TWO THOUGHTS,TWO UNRECONCILED STRIVINGS, TWO WARRING IDEAS IM ONE DARK BODY, WHOSE DOGGED STRENGTH ALONE KEEPS IT FROM BEING TORN ASUNDER." HAVE YOU EVER FELT THE SENSATION OF "TRIPLE CONSCIOUSNESS", YOUR OWN THREE-NESS; AN AMERICAN, A NEGRO, A WOMAN?
"In some realm, yes. I definitely have been in spaces in STEM where I have been reminded good, bad, ugly, and otherwise that I am African-American, that I am a female, that I am a US Citizen. Especially one particular time I went to a conference and I could count on one hand how many other black people were in the room and I would approach them naively thinking I would have an ally. And they would say you may look like me but we're not the same because I am not a citizen, I'm from African, or Jamaica, or the Carribean, so being reminded of your identity in STEM has definitely been at the forefront of my career at all times."
Check out interviews from these SHE-E-O's who are shining their MELANIN & MOLECULES.
Click "Previous" to read past interviews.