Alabama scientist proves need for more minorities in STEM

Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is a physicist from St. Louis, Missouri who teaches physics at Tuskegee University. Earning her bachelor’s degree from Alabama A&M University and her master’s and Ph.D from the University of Alabama at Birmingham, Green is the living embodiment of what Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU) are capable of producing.

But more than that, she finds herself in rarefied air. There are less than 100 black women physicists in the nation, and she’s one of them.

She was recently awarded a grant of more than $1 million to continue development of a new treatment for cancer. Instead of using radiation and chemotherapy to target and kill cancer cells, she cultivated a way to mark only the cancer cells in one’s body instead of the healthy ones that surround them.

Green did this using lasers.

She’s been advancing this proposed treatment for more than seven years, and the grant will allow her to continue to work on it.

Yet even with her success and potential breakthrough in finding a new treatment that’s safer for cancer patients than radiation, she’s still just one of less than 100.

Black women have a place in science–more specifically STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math education). Showcasing Green’s achievements and how she’s carving her own path in the field proves that we need more black women in the field.

But it’s hard, and not because black women lack intelligence, it is because we fail to give them the proper opportunities. By way of information provided by mic.com, there was a jump in the number of black women who received Ph.D’s in computer science from 2002 to 2012. The number went from eight to 16.

For white men in the same field, there was an increase from 198 to 436.

Those numbers aren’t much better in other areas of STEM and are only slightly improving.

To combat the problem, we have to continue to showcase the success of black women like Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green and the close to 100 others who are making a way in STEM.

It is at least one pathway to show little black girls that there is room for them in STEM.

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