Do you remember your favorite teacher in school? The one that you were always excited to see when you got into their classroom? The one that put everything into perspective and made you love each subject that they taught? It’s teachers and role models like that who are shaping tomorrow’s young minds to their fullest potential.
But when it comes to young women, there aren’t a whole lot of female scientists and science teachers that they can point to. Sure, we’ve mentioned a few examples on our blog, but we really need more female leaders in the scientific community to stand up and give young women the inspiration to pursue careers in science and technology. And luckily for those girls, one such scientist from Alabama is doing just that.
Meet Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green, one of fewer than 100 black female physicists in the country. She recently won a $1.1 million grant to further develop her patent-pending technology for using laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer. And whenever she gets invitations to be a guest speaker for professional groups, schools, and nonprofit organizations, she almost never turns them down.
“Usually if there is an invitation to speak at a forum like that, I accept it because I feel like it’s a responsibility,” she said. “There are so few of us (black women in STEM fields) I don’t feel like I have the luxury to say I’m too busy.”
Currently, Dr. Green is working on creating a treatment for cancer that doesn’t come with the awful effects of today’s cancer treatment drugs. This recent grant money will allow her to develop technology that targets, images and treats cancer. “I was completely overwhelmed with joy,” she says. “This is a huge door opening. It outlines a path to take this treatment to clinical trial.”
“I’m really hoping this can change the way we treat cancer in America,” says Green. “There are so many people who only get a three-month or six-month survival benefit from the drugs they take. Then three or six months later, they’re sent home with no hope, nothing else we can do. Those are the patients I want to try to save, the ones where regular medicine isn’t effective for them.”
But even during all this ground-breaking cancer research, Dr. Green still makes time to speak at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs, and other youth events. She says she feels a responsibility to be a positive example and change stereotypes of black women portrayed in media.
“There are black female scientists who don’t get media exposure,” she says. “Because of that, young black girls don’t see those role models as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj. It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more than fashion and entertainment and music, even though arts are important.”
As a matter of fact, Green has mentored several young women, many of whom have gone on to receive degrees and jobs in science-related fields. “People told me to make good grades and stay in school,” she says, “and I always take good advice to heart.”
So many young women out there have the potential to change the world like Dr. Green and her colleagues are doing. And all it takes is someone to show you the way forward. We appreciate all the fine work that Dr. Green is doing and all the young minds that she is inspiring thanks to her hard work. We couldn’t have asked for a better role model for young women in STEM!
Photo credit: SPIE via YouTube