What motivates you to do/pursue science and/or medicine?
From an early age, I was curious about how things (toys, gadgets, watches, cars, etc.) worked, and I destroyed and managed to fix my share of things during my explorations. I also was fascinated by the flora and fauna on the acres of land where I grew up. In junior and senior high school, I was among a very few African American students who elected or were even encouraged to take chemistry, physics, and higher mathematics courses. Developing scientific knowledge and implementation of that knowledge has, is, and will continue to have significant impacts on the improvements for Earth and its inhabitants as well as better understanding of our universe. I have enjoyed playing a part in implementing scientific and technological solutions impacting energy and the environment.
What does Black History Month mean to you?
Black people, throughout the diaspora, have contributed so much to humanity. It is commendable that the U.S. created a Black History Month. However, the contributions of African Americans, as well as those of other minorities, should be included and taught as an integral part of American history.
Anything else you would like to share?
When I began my career in science and engineering, there were very few role models that looked like me. It is critically important that we encourage more African Americans and other minorities to consider careers in science. It is also important to let them know about the many African Americans and other minorities who have contributed and are contributing to the advancement of science. All too often, their contributions are either not reported or underreported. As an example, I highlight the contributions of Dr. Kizzmekia Corbett. Dr. Corbett is celebrated for leading a team at the National Institutes of Health that helped develop Moderna's COVID-19 vaccine. Dr. Anthony Fauci said, "Kizzy is an African American scientist who is right at the forefront of the development of the vaccine." Fauci wrote that Corbett has "been central to the development of the Moderna mRNA vaccine and the Eli Lilly therapeutic monoclonal antibody that were first to enter clinical trials in the U.S." and that "her work will have a substantial impact on ending the worst respiratory-disease pandemic in more than 100 years."