Science isUS

The latest from US.

As our People of Science report has shown, career and technical colleges, community colleges, skilled trade unions, the military and employers provide valuable pathways for building skills and retraining workers in #STEM fields.

Meet the people of science.

"Find your passion," says Allison Aldridge, Ph.D., an analytical chemist.

"I found my passion in chemistry. It’s not where I started. When I was a child, I wanted to be a veterinarian. I took animal science in college and I realized that wasn’t the right fit for me for a number of reasons including my unique abilities. I continued my studies towards a biology degree, but when I graduated, I got a job as a chemist, which I was able to do because I had taken a lot of chemistry classes.

I worked for eight years as a chemist—for an ordinance company, (government owned contractor operated). But I was losing out on new jobs outside the company because I wasn’t a trained chemist. I decided to go back to school to get a chemistry degree, but a colleague who was my mentor, steered me in another direction. She encouraged me to set my sights higher and pursue a Ph.D. in chemistry. 

When I was looking at Ph.D. programs, something that kept sticking out for me in some of the program brochures was the photos of the faculty—I didn’t see any women; I didn’t see any people of color. I needed to find a program where I could see myself. We talk about representation more openly now; how if you can see it, you can be it, but we can’t take that for granted. And it’s partially a reason why it’s important for me to be a mentor to others coming up. I’m always looking to the future. I want to make the future better, not just in terms of chemistry, but in helping to train and support the next generation of chemists.

In my work now, I’m an assessor of applications for new and generic medicines and the facilities where they will be manufactured. This work is important for a number of reasons. As a public servant, first and foremost it is my responsibility to advance the public health by making sure that the medicines people are taking are safe and that they work. But it’s also personal. Medications that my mother takes have come across my desk. That matters. 

What I enjoy most about my work is seeing things that are new. Because I review applications for new drugs, I get to see new and innovative things all the time.”
A Maine State Representative, entomologist and professor: meet the Honorable Jim Dill, Ph.D.

“If we want to bridge the gap between science and policy, we need more scientists to run for seats in their state legislatures.

I’ve served in the Maine legislature for 14 years—both as a Senator and as a Representative. I started in public service by serving on my local school board. The legislature in Maine is part time but can feel like full time when we’re in session. That makes it challenging for a lot of people to serve. I had thought about running for a number of years. One day I came home and all of the paperwork to run was on my doorstep. Someone went through the trouble of getting everything from the Secretary of State for me—not very subtle, but I definitely appreciated it! Funny enough I still don’t know who it was who left that packet, but I’m glad because it’s been a great experience serving in the legislature.

I am trained as an entomologist and have a Ph.D. in the field. From childhood I was always interested in biology. I was always out in the wood exploring; always interested in critters. I spent time with my grandfather on his farm, picking strawberries and vegetables. I was lucky that my family encouraged me and let me keep a lot of pets.

I was a biology major undergrad, but it was the publication of Silent Spring by Rachel Carlson that sparked my interest in the pesticide problem and insects and directed my specific path."

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Meet Lauren Ragle, Assistant Professor of Physician Assistant Studies at @gwuniversity.

“If you’re curious about the world and you think you want to go into STEM—just do it.

Even if it seems tough. Even if there are naysayers out there. Even if people put obstacles in your way. You can prove them wrong. I have time and time again. And you can too. 

Growing up I had a lot of health issues. I was in and out of doctor’s offices. Because I was familiar and comfortable with medicine, I said I wanted to be a doctor. But my real curiosity and interest in science was broader than medicine.

When I was young, I would always go over to my grandma’s house after school. We would watch PBS together—all the science and nature shows. I remember watching @billnye the Science Guy and it was that show that helped me realize I had a passion for science specifically.

In high school I fell in love with chemistry—and particularly the labs. I decided that I wanted to go to college and major in chemistry, with a focus on biochemistry. As an undergrad I began to research an enzyme called autotaxin. I continued my research around that enzyme through grad school. Then I moved on to researching breast cancer at the National Cancer Institute for my postdoc years.

A common thread through my work as a researcher and scientist was teaching and mentorship. I enjoyed research and being in the lab, but it wasn’t my passion. My passion was teaching. I had the opportunity to teach and mentor starting when I was a grad student and continuing into my postdoc time. Through a series of happy accidents we call networking, I ended up teaching part time and then got into my current role at George Washington University.

I was a first-generation college student. And I was diagnosed with Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome—a connective tissue disorder that led to mobility issues for me at times. In addition to having a passion for teaching, I also work to help other people with disabilities find their path and achieve success in STEM careers. I believe there is a STEM career path for everyone who wants one and I’m passionate about finding the resources and help to make my students’ STEM dreams a reality.”

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