This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Raychelle Burks. She’s a self-described “analytical chemistry blackademic in the ivory tower and a class clown now in charge of a classroom.”
As compiled by Chrystelle Vilfranc
If you got to see our most recent #VanguardSTEM episode, then you saw Dr. Raychelle Burks in action. With a razor-sharp wit and depth of insight that is unmatched, she gave sage advice about the way we talk about creating a new STEM paradigm. We checked back in with Dr. Burks to find out a bit more about her and feature her as our woman crush today. Read on!
Where did/do you go to school?
B.S. in chemistry from the University of Northern Iowa
M.S. in forensic science from Nebraska Wesleyan University
Ph.D. in chemistry from the University of Nebraska – Lincoln
What do you do right now?
I’m an Assistant Professor in the Department of Chemistry at St. Edward’s University.
Dr. Burks also has experience working in an actual crime scene lab for two years…how cool is that?! Next time you’ll have to tell us all about THAT!
What made you choose your STEM discipline in the first place?
Forensic science caught my eye and chemistry hooked me with its power to identify mystery substances.
Representation matters. We want to see ourselves in our dreams. Dr. Raychelle Burks
What’s one piece of advice you wish you had when you started your STEM journey?
Don’t forget about the “soft skills” (administration, communication, team work, etc.), that can make your job harder or easier.
Do you have a woman of color in STEM shero? Who and why?
Dr. Danielle Lee, who has carved out a research, teaching, sci comm, and activist career where she shines!
What else are you passionate about?
Science communication at the intersection of fandoms and chemistry.
Our previous #WCWinSTEM Dr. Danielle Lee, has also featured Dr. Burks on her blog and highlighted her work as a highly engaged public intellectual:
In addition to Dr. Burks’ chemistry research and online outreach activities, she proposed and launched the first ever DIYSciZone at Geek Girl Con 2013 in Seattle, Washington. The DIY or Do-it-Yourself zone was a hands-on science learning zone with nearly a dozen activities led by chemistry and biology researchers and educators for the kids (and adults) who attended this very family-friendly girl-centric comic and character conference. She flexes her zombie chemistry expertise in the Curly Hair Mafia – a smart brown lady circle that reviews horror, sci-fi and fantasy TV shows and movies. She is also co-founder of the National Science & Technology News Service – a media literacy project to connect journalists with African-American STEM professionals to serve as sources for science, tech, environment and health news.
Why do you think it’s important to highlight women of color in STEM?
Representation matters. We want to see ourselves in our dreams.
Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
I recently starting writing a forensic science themed monthly column called “Trace Analysis” for Chemistry World, the magazine of the Royal Society of Chemistry.
Thank you for the work you do, Dr. Rubidium! We’re honored to have you in our #VanguardSTEM squad and we know you will keep showing us what it means to be great. SLLLAAAYYY!!!
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