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Discovery

Celebrating Black History Month with our research fellows

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Tova N. Williams in her lab

Tova N. Williams is a Ph.D. student in the Fiber and Polymer Science Program at North Carolina State University. Her interest in chemistry, color and their applications, paired with an awareness of the toxicological profile of various colorants, has motivated her to pursue a career in green chemistry. To launch a career in this field, she is involved in research that will help change the "face" of hair coloration. Specifically, she is focusing on designing environmentally benign hair colorants.

Credit: Amanda Padbury, North Carolina State University College of Textiles


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Alexandra Davis under water studying corals

"My doctoral research focuses on the ecological impacts of the Indo-Pacific red lionfish (Pterois volitans) in the Bahamas and the Caribbean," says Alexandra Davis, Ph.D. candidate in the Department of Integrative Biology at Oregon State University. "I use SCUBA and manipulative experiments to understand how the presence of this invasive fish is impacting local reef communities. Currently, I am focusing on how lionfish interact with their habitat, and creating a model to predict their distribution that can help management with removal efforts. I am proud to represent a minority group not only in science, but specifically marine science, and hope that I can encourage others to look beyond stereotypes and follow their passion."

Credit: Kristian Dzilenski


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Lekeah A. Durden

"I love the nature of science," says Lekeah A. Durden, a Ph.D. student in Indiana University's Evolution, Ecology and Behavior Program. "It teaches you to think critically while asking questions about the world around you. I enjoy teaching students the scientific skills I've gained through research. What makes me proudest in my scientific career is participating in initiatives that support women and underrepresented minorities to pursue interests in science. My involvement in eco-evolutionary research allows me to be the positive change I want to see in the world because seeing other underrepresented groups in graduate studies helps create a diverse student body and future faculty that is more inclusive and representative of our community."

Credit: Lekeah A Durden, Indiana University, EEB program


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Ralph Washington Jr. holding an insect sample

"I have loved insects since I was 8 years old, when I found them in a vacant lot near my house," says Ralph Washington Jr., a Ph.D. student at the University of California, Davis. "The discarded appliances, drug paraphernalia and overgrown weeds provided various microhabitats in which lived many kinds of insects. This taught me that you can find wondrous things in even the bleakest of places. I continue to study insects because of a simple truth: Terrestrial life is one of the most amazing things to happen in the history of the universe. To fully appreciate that truth, you have to study biodiversity, and entomology is the best way to do so."

Credit: Karin Higgins, UC Davis Strategic Communications


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Audra A. Huffmeyer next to elephants

"I hail from an urban environment but as a child I was always fascinated with the wild places I saw through images and videos," says Audra A. Huffmeyer, a Ph.D. student in the Ecology and Evolutionary Biology Department at UCLA. "I was drawn to science for the adventure, which only becomes more thrilling with each new project and skill I acquire. My research interests include conservation biology, molecular ecology and genomics. My current research explores the consequences of inbreeding on differential gene expression and gene regulation in abnormal sperm production in carnivores. The mechanisms behind abnormal sperm production in wildlife are largely unexplored and are of key concern in conservation breeding to maintain endangered species."

Credit: Audra Huffmeyer, UCLA


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