My overall research focus is to advance health equity for marginalized populations with diabetes and related chronic disease outcomes. My current research uses (1) patient-centered approaches to develop and implement interventions that partner with peer support persons to improve health literacy, diabetes management outcomes and medication adherence, and (2) addresses barriers to engagement in evidence-based self-management programs.
What is your education/career background?
I have a pharmacy (BPharm) degree, and a PhD in Pharmaceutical Socioeconomics. As a NIH scholar/fellow, I received additional training in mixed methods, behavioral clinical trials, and health equity research.
How have you navigated a career in STEM as a woman/underrepresented minority?
There are women/underrepresented minority role models who have inspired my journey and career. I have navigated a career in STEM with several moments of perseverance, grace, faith, and self-care. I have realized that I don’t have to accept the typical stereotype and bias of what we can offer as women or an underrepresented person of color. I try to use difficult circumstances as an opportunity to learn, recognize the need for steady growth, and leverage the unique strength and support from other individuals.
What advice do you have for women/underrepresented groups pursuing an education/career in STEM?
I have learned that though there are unique barriers, roadblocks to success and frequent impostor syndrome due to our underrepresentation in STEM; there is a network of genuine mentors and advocates who really take time to elevate the voice of women and underrepresented groups. Find one and connect with them. One thing to value is the abundance of strength that comes from kindness, community and looking out for each other. Recognizing the immense value that you as a woman and from an underrepresented group bring to the table helps with moments of uncertainty, anxiety, and fear. Take each failure as a learning opportunity for growth and celebrate even the seemingly smallest wins. It is important to prioritize one’s health, self, and community and enjoy having your place at the table. Success is not always about working harder but fulfilling your purpose.
What do you enjoy most about your career/current role?
I really enjoy the research I do partnering with patients and individuals from marginalized communities to improve health outcomes and advance equity. I also love mentoring students and early career faculty and take pride in seeing them succeed and grow in their positions
What does diversity, inclusivity, and equity look like to you in your job sector? How do you incorporate DEI in your position?
I do this through my research program, which is focused on truly listening and understanding the reasons why marginalized communities make decisions about their health behaviors. One of main tenets of DEI is increasing accessibility to health information. I weave health literacy principles into my interventions, while focusing on engagement and empowerment towards behavior change. I also pass on the principles of this work to future generation of pharmacists by teaching similar topics on health literacy, health equity, and patient’s perspectives in healthcare communication through the pharmacy school curriculum. As the director of the STRIDE mentored professional development program, I focus some of my time on mentoring early career faculty who are underrepresented in translational research sciences and have committed to health equity though their work.
What is your favorite way to unwind?
Spending time with my family watching movies and trivia game shows.