Brooke Ann Napier
Ph.D. Candidate, Microbiology and Molecular Genetics
What inspired you to pursue a career in STEM?
The ingredients of my career: one good science teacher (8th grade biology – Ms. Riddel) and a hunger for understanding why and how things work. In 8th grade I learned that biology was intuitive, and by just paying attention to what was going on around you and a little elbow grease you could find the answers to pretty much any question! By college my questions were getting smaller and more specific and I realized that my teachers didn’t know the answers – and that drive influenced me to join a PhD program.
What is the coolest project you have worked on and why?
I can’t pick a single one!! However, my current project is looking at a new emerging bacterial pathogen that is multi- and pan-drug resistant. There are huge questions about how and why this bacterium replicates and causes disease – because I am in the right place at the right time I get the chance to elucidate if this bacterium replicates intracellularly, extracellularly, or both! If I am lucky I will be able to discover how and why this soil bacterium has taken a turn for the worst and is infecting ICU patients in hospitals around the US.
Role models and heroes:
I have a few: Craig Venter, I admire his ingenuity and zest for answering questions that people are too scared to approach. Bill Bryson, he’s not particularly a scientist, however there has to be something said for someone who can take very difficult topics like the history of science or the structure of a house and turn them into something not only interesting but approachable. And, Sarah Scoles, she has dedicated her career to giving her students the ability and the confidence to become scientists (as I mentioned before, you just need one good teacher).
Advice for future STEMinists?
Never think you’re not smart enough. For some reason science and math has gotten a reputation for being “too hard” and that’s absurd! Science is very intuitive and needs to be taught with care so that it is approachable and fun.
Also, if you’re looking for advice about graduate school – study, study, study, AND make friends with people in high places! Stay after class and talk to your professor about what you went over that day, write emails to researchers or scientists that impress you – get your face and name out there!
Favorite website or app:
I love science blogs and nothing is better than a website that brings you tons of science blogs all organized into specific areas of interest! www.ResearchBlogging.org