This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Tanea Reed, a biochemist whose research focuses on therapeutic interventions for moderate traumatic brain injuries!
As compiled by Léolène Carrington, Ph.D.
We’re delighted to feature Dr. Tanea Reed as this week’s #WCWinSTEM. Dr. Reed is the second faculty member at Eastern Kentucky University to be awarded a National Institute of Health grant under the R15 program*. A quick search of her publication records shows that she has been quite busy researching therapeutic strategies for traumatic brain injury.
Responses may be edited for content and brevity.
*The R15 program is an Academic Research Enhancement Awards geared towards institutions that provide baccalaureate or advanced degrees for a significant number of the Nation’s research scientists but that have not been major recipients of NIH support.
Where/when did you go to school?
Ph.D. Biological Chemistry, University of Kentucky
B.S. Biochemistry, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
What do you do right now?
I am an associate professor of Biochemistry at Eastern Kentucky University. I also conduct research focusing on therapeutic strategies for moderate traumatic brain injuries. I primarily work with undergraduate students (many who are first generation and/or underrepresented) in the lab.
What made you choose your STEM discipline in the first place?
I have always enjoyed science and math at a young age. I grew up with Lego toys and loved to make things that weren’t pictured on the box. I even made a working ski chalet once! Complete with cotton balls for snow. I was originally a chemical engineering major as an undergraduate. I did not click with the engineering courses, but had a passion for chemistry. I was able to perform research as an undergraduate and loved every minute of it. I knew that’s what I wanted to do with the rest of my life.
Any piece of advice you wish you had when you started your STEM journey?
Sometimes “good” is “good enough” and delegation is the key to avoiding burnout.
Do you have any woman of color in STEM sheros? Who and why?
Dr. Bevlee Watford. She has been instrumental to my success at Virginia Tech as an engineering professor. She was very supportive when I transferred out of the major, which I have never forgotten.
What else are you passionate about?
I love to dance. I have trained in multiple forms of dance from tap to belly-dancing. I have just started running and really enjoy it.
Why do you think it’s important to highlight women of color in STEM?
I think it’s important to highlight women of color in STEM, because there are so few of us. It’s truly a field where you feel like “the only” the majority of the time. I had a mentor at Virginia Tech, Dr. Bevlee Watford, who was (at the time), one of the only women of color as an engineering faculty member. She was my first professional mentor and was very supportive when I decided to switch majors. When I graduated with my doctoral degree, there were only 4 other African-American women who received a PhD in chemistry that year! I attended the annual National Organization for Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers (NOBCCHE) meeting just before graduation and met the other 4. This was exciting, but then really put things into perspective.
Without shining a light on these amazing women, we may continue to feel like “the only” ones.
Are there institutions, groups or organizations you would like to give a shoutout?
BRAINS (Broadening the Representation of Academic Investigators in NeuroScience)
Thank you Dr. Reed, for blazing (and dancing!) the STEM trail in Kentucky! We’re honored to have you in our #VanguardSTEM squad!
*All images used with permission from Dr. Tanea Reed.
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