At Radyus Research, we work with many innovators across STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields looking to achieve their drug and business development goals. Many of these innovators are members of academia from diverse backgrounds all with a common goal of bringing the drugs they developed to market. We recognize that we would not be able to work with so many diverse individuals without the efforts of diverse members within the STEM community striving towards creating a more inclusive environment for people from all walks of life to have an opportunity to have a lasting impact in the field.
Despite the social obstacles they faced, these individuals work to motivate and encourage the next generation of young people to pursue STEM education and careers via teaching, mentoring, research, and groundbreaking discoveries and innovations. In honor of Diversity Month, we explore the achievements of a few of these notable individuals in the field of science. They broke barriers and opened doors for future generations using the challenges and triumphs they have faced as members of underrepresented groups to motivate themselves and others. The four individuals we highlight today are as follows:
- Karen Lozano – an advocate for Mexican women working in technology
- Stephanie Dance-Barnes – a champion for African American women pursuing careers in science and medicine
- Corey Garza – a mentor for Native Americans and other underrepresented minorities in the environmental science
- Dr. Kay C Dee – an advocate for women in engineering
- Susumu Tonegawa – a Nobel laureate who first discovered antibody diversity in vertebrates, and an inspiration for all Asian American scientists.
Read on for a closer look into the accomplishments of these inspiring members of academia.
Dr. Karen Lozano
Dr. Karen Lozano is one of the most respected professors at the University of Texas Rio Grande Valley. She has been awarded the prestigious Julia Beecherl endowed professorship and built the nanotechnology program at her university. When she entered the industry, Lozano broke barriers as the only woman in her 1995 graduating class from Universidad de Monterrey and the first Mexican woman to ever earn a doctorate in science and engineering from Rice University.
In her industry, she has established herself as a prolific innovator. She holds over 45 patents and patent applications and serves as the CTO of FibeRio Technologies Corporation. She views her life’s success as the product of hard work despite adversity and her results are evident. As a professor, she also motivates prospective and current students to enter into the STEM field and defy expectations.
Dr. Stephanie Dance-Barnes
Dr. Stephanie Dance-Barnes is the dean of the College of Science and Health at DePaul University in Chicago, IL. She earned her PhD in Cancer Biology from Wake Forest University School of Medicine in Winston-Salem, North Carolina, becoming the first African American female to receive a PhD in Cancer Biology from the university.
Currently, her research revolves around developing therapies targeted against certain types of breast cancer. Specifically, she has heavily researched triple negative breast cancer, which has disproportionately affected African American women. She has received several awards for her efforts, including the 2019 Board of Governors Excellence in Educating award. She continues to give back by serving as the principal investigator of a grant that aims to expose underrepresented minority children to STEM careers.
Dr. Corey Garza
Dr. Corey Garza is an associate professor at California State University, Monterey Bay’s Division of Science and Environmental Policy. After overcoming challenges associated with being a minority in the STEM community, Garza committed himself to being a mentor for his students from historically underrepresented groups and exposing them to his field of expertise.
Garza was a research ecologist with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) before coming to CSUMB, where he was the technical liaison to and chief scientist for the USEPA Long Island Sound Study. He is the principal investigator for CSUMB’s Marine Landscape Ecology Lab and the NOAA Center for Coastal and Marine Ecosystems’ campus lead. Garza prides himself on his work and ability to contribute to the STEM community through findings and his ability to mentor the next generation of changemakers. Currently, Garza serves on the National Board of Directors of the Society for the Advancement of Chicanos and Native Americans in Science, putting together a marine science symposium each year.
Dr. Kay C Dee
Dr. Kay C Dee is an Associate Dean of Learning and Technology at Rose Hulman Institute of Technology in Terre-Haute, IN and a Professor of Biology and Biomedical Engineering. She is a member of the College of Fellows of the American Institute for Medical and Biomedical Engineering because of her work in tissue-biomaterial interactions. This prestigious honor is only bestowed onto the top 2% of engineers in the US. Her work involved some of the initial approaches to learning about the chemical modification of biomaterial surfaces to encourage clinically relevant cellular functions, which has now blossomed into a well-established field of science.
Rose Hulman has credited Dee with bringing in more females into their biomedical engineering program and increasing the number of female professors in the Department of Biology and Biomedical Engineering. She continues to give back to the community as a member of the Engineer Girl website, where she gives advice to young women interested in a career in biomedical engineering. She has also been recognized by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and the National Science Foundation for her inspirational teaching and mentoring efforts.
Dr. Susumu Tonegawa
Dr. Susumu Tonegawa is the Picower Professor of Biology and Neuroscience and the Director of the RIKEN-MIT Center for Neural Circuits Genetics at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. He now studies neuroscience, examining the molecular, cellular and neuronal basis of memory formation and retrieval.
Tonegawa was born in Nagoya, Japan and attended Kyoto University in Japan. After developing a keen interest in molecular biology, he moved to the United States to take advantage of the greater opportunities to study in this field. He then moved to Switzerland to study immunology, where he conducted landmark immunology studies. Currently, he conducts research in yet another field – neuroscience. Specifically, he has conducted groundbreaking work regarding identifying and manipulating memory engram cells and has been able to uncover their role in brain disorders, providing proof of concept for future medical treatments.
Tonegawa was awarded the Nobel Prize for Physiology or Medicine in 1987 for his discovery of the genetic mechanism that produces antibody diversity. Celebrating his work sounds like a perfect way to kick of the Diversity Month!