Latasha Wright, PhD, is the Chief Scientist at BioBus. Latasha grew up in a small and close-knit town in Mississippi, and moved to New York City to pursue to PhD in cell and molecular biology at NYU Langone Medical School.
BioBus is a non-profit organization that inspires students to engage with hands-on science research and inquiry while allowing them explore the prospect of careers in STEM. BioBus includes both a “mobile” portion, where the BioBus team travels to K-12 NYC schools and facilitates science engagement via research-grade microscopes alongside PhD scientists, and a community science lab (called BioBase), where students in grade 3-12 are given the opportunity to explore science through in-depth, project-based lab courses. BioBus focuses on underrepresented STEM youth, and strives to cultivate and sustain public interest in science.
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What’s your favorite thing about being a scientist? Did you always want to be a scientist?
“My favorite part of being a scientist is that my career is all about asking questions and pushing the boundaries of the unknown.”
Can you think of a specific time when you found science or pursuing science challenging?
“Graduate School.. shocking.. I know.. This is the first time I encountered prolonged periods of failure. For an overachieving, workaholic, it was hard to take. I learned to just keep going and not let failure affect me emotionally most of the time. If it did, I learned to let myself have a moment of self pity and move on. Learning when to move on was a great life lesson that I still use to this day.”
Have you ever made something explode or otherwise wildly go wrong in lab?
“When I was in high school my science teacher, Robert Pursley, made learning science fun. He was this really eccentric person who used to do corny things like sing Christmas carols based on the periodic table. He was so enthusiastic about science that it was infectious. We used to do crazy experiments like making bubbles with gasoline and lighting them on fire. I guess I have always been curious and a bit mischievous. These characteristics came alive in chemistry class. Mr. Pursley would say, “whatever you do, do NOT mix these two chemicals.” I would have one of my friends distract the teacher, and mix the two chemicals to see what would happen. Let’s just say I received a lot of chemical burns that semester.”
If the building was burning, what single item would you grab as you ran out the door and why?
“I would take my phone. How else can I find those Pokemon..JK.”