No matter what field of science you’re in, your hard work toward advancing discovery inspires us. That’s why we’ve created a new space for scientists to tell their stories.
Each month, we’ll add new, engaging interviews with inspiring, real scientists that reveal their personal journeys, areas of research, and passion for the challenging work that can help us understand and improve our world.
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Name: Chinmayee Shah
Location: Cambridge, MA

If I weren’t a scientist I would be a: Dancer

Why did you choose to pursue science? I work in cancer immuno-therapy research and the reason I chose it is not because someone died in my family because of cancer, but that I believe in science, and I believe that there is nothing that can’t be attained. I always follow one rule in life: "Everything has a solution if you just believe that there is one."

Favorite memory in the lab: Working late hours trying to make one assay work and the happiness of hitting the right thing that leads to a paper.

If you could change anything about society’s perception of science/scientists what would it be? That scientists are not to be stereotyped to be nerds! They can be cheerful, party-going, fun people who happen to love science but are outgoing at the same time.

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Name: Rubia Martin
Location: Raleigh, NC

How would you explain your work? I am studying to become a toxicologist. I am concerned how environmental toxins (poisons) can influence sporadic neurological diseases, such as ALS, by changing one's biological body compositions. Therefore, I expose neurons to environmental toxins, and then I evaluate specific responses, such as increase or decrease of certain proteins that are important to biological body functions.

If I weren’t a scientist I would be an: Aesthetician

Why did you choose to pursue science? Since I have been a little girl, I have always enjoyed learning about life! I am always questioning why things happens the way they happen. As I matured I knew I had to become a scientist as I never cease the desire to learn new things!

Favorite memory in the lab: The wonderful people I work with!

If you could change anything about society’s perception of science/scientists what would it be? That we are actually good people. We are not nerds, weird, shy, antisocial or whatever you may call us. Actually, most of us are easygoing and easy to communicate with. We have to be, as we aim to widely distribute knowledge. Also, we get pretty excited and happy because we know we have the potential to make a difference in the future by helping our community with new discoveries!

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Name: Chelsae Dumbauld
Location: Chapel Hill, NC

How would you explain your work? I process archived blood and tumor cancer research samples. Then I look at markers on the cells using fluorescent antibodies that mark specific cell types. The differences in a sample's cell subsets can predict or show how they respond to treatment.

If I weren’t a scientist I would be a: Theater performer. I've always had a passion for acting and being on stage.

Why did you choose to pursue science? My interest in science started in my 8th grade life sciences class. I felt enlightened every time I learned something new about how "life" really worked. Whether it is plants or animals, I am amazed by how complex living things can be.

Favorite memory in the lab: When I was the first person in my lab to use our brand new flow cytometer.

If you could change anything about society’s perception of science/scientists what would it be? If I could change anything, I wish that society's perception of science was not based on religious or political beliefs. Science itself is not based in religion or politics, which is what I find so pure about it.

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Name: Paige Mandelare

How would you explain your work? I look for new potential drugs, like penicillin, from Oregonian fungi and soil. The drug leads could be anything from antibiotics to antiviral.

If I weren’t a scientist I would be a: A fiction writer/English major. I love writing fictional stories, but I love reading and analyzing literature, both the classics and new novels.

Why did you choose to pursue science? I chose to pursue science because I have always been inquisitive. I just enjoyed the process of developing my hypothesis and seeing it through, even as a child. I couldn't see myself doing anything else, besides exploring and learning in science. Most people would answer with the standard answer "to help people", but my reason is purely because I just enjoy learning and executing experiments.

Who is a science icon you look up to? I didn't have a science icon I looked up to. I was thankful my mom and dad were in STEM careers and they always supported my interests in science. My dad was a science inspiration as I got to visit his lab during his Ph.D. and I got exposure from a young age of what I could do as a scientist.

Favorite memory in the lab: Collection trips with my labs to the Keys in Florida. I am so lucky my field includes field collection and the bonding moments I had with my PI and lab mates on a cramped ship with a ship crew of characters is hands down my favorite memory. I got to snorkel and collect soil samples while processing them on a ship during a storm.

If you could change anything about society’s perception of science/scientists what would it be? We are everyday people. The scientists on TV such as the Big Bang Theory show that scientists are socially inept and uber geeks. That simply isn't true! Most of us are extremely social, don't often drag about our fields, and pursue hobbies such as marathons or triathlons. I would say as a whole, scientists are quirky.

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Name: Morgan Prewitt Carlton

How would you explain your work? I currently test LNG components, set up cargos for analysis, and test water.

If I weren’t a scientist I would be a: I would be a horticulturist. I love growing things in my garden and trying out new varieties of my favorite vegetables and herbs.

Why did you choose to pursue science? I chose to pursue science because having the freedom to choose STEM is incredibly important, especially as a millennial woman. I cannot even remember a time before I wanted to be a scientist.

Who is a science icon you look up to? Sir Ronald Ross, a military man in India who studied malaria. I wanted to base my graduate studies off of his work.

Favorite memory in the lab: I love being on plant support. The data that we turn out is the data the entire plant runs on.

If you could change anything about society’s perception of science/scientists what would it be? That we aren’t all super nerds with no social skills!

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Name: Blake Gowen

How would you explain your work? My work deals with figuring out what is wrong with individuals who have certain skin cancers, and seeing what we can do to try to prevent it or treat it as best as possible. I explain my work to my friends as "invisible work” since we can't see anything we're working with (with the naked eye). It's like magic, but making a real difference.

If I weren’t a scientist I would be a: Trombone performer.

Why did you choose to pursue science?I have always been fascinated by the way the world works around us, and how we as humans seek to understand it. Learning how the body reacts to chemicals, how skin differentiates differently with different protein expression levels, how low and high pressure systems (and warm water) create powerful storms, and many, many more things are responsible for my passion for science.

Who is a science icon you look up to? Senior scientist in the Khavari Lab, Zurab Siprashvili.

Favorite memory in the lab: My favorite memory would have to be validating a certain isoform of a gene my lab was studying. I hadn't yet gained much experience, but I was able to validate a certain sequence that no one had been able to validate previously. Seems small, but it was very encouraging.

If you could change anything about society’s perception of science/scientists what would it be? I would encourage the general population to trust scientists MORE than politicians, and trust that science very rarely lies and is as unbiased as anything else out there. We need to listen to what the universe is telling us.

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