Dr. Candice UlmerAlumna – PhD University of FloridaDepartment of Chemistry
What motivated you to excel at UF?
While in undergrad at the College of Charleston, I immediately recognized my passion for research in analytical chemistry while working with Dr. Wendy Cory. I decided that a graduate degree was necessary for me to continue to cultivate this passion and to establish a career in this field. Therefore, I entered UF with tunnel vision in 2012, focused on accomplishing one multi-part goal:  to join Dr. Richard Yost’s research group as he is a world-renowned mass spectrometrist,  to complete my doctoral degree in exactly four years, and  to have fun while doing so. I joined organizations such as the Black Graduate Student Organization (BGSO) and Gator McKnights Unite, a group I co-founded for UF McKnight Doctoral Fellowship recipients, to provide accountability partners and resources for accomplishing these goals. I asked my doctoral committee members what was needed during my oral candidacy exam for me to complete my degree in 4 years. I was motivated to cross off each item from their LONG list of suggestions, which included publication minimums, changes to my research design, data analysis/interpretation suggestions, etc., to successfully meet my goal. On Friday the 13th of May 2016, I successfully defended my dissertation 4 years later as a graduate student in the Yost group, and I tried to have as much fun possible doing it.
What are your career goals?
My career goal is to become board-certified in clinical chemistry in route to obtaining a branch chief/laboratory director position for a clinical laboratory within the government sector.
How have Black role models inspired you?
I realize that my exposure to Black scientists was very uncommon having been raised in Orangeburg, SC, home of two HBCUs (Claflin University and South Carolina State University). I saw first-hand that Blacks could be successful in roles/careers outside of the traditional lawyer, doctor, and teacher professions. I was afforded opportunities in grade-school to conduct research with Black scientists on organic chemistry and biochemistry projects. As a result, I was inspired to pursue an occupation that was driven by my personal interests and passions in science.
What does DEI mean to you?
To me, DEI means the establishment of an environment that allows for the total inclusivity of race, ethnicity, national origin, gender/gender identity/sexual orientation, age, religion, culture, and disabilities, to mention but a few. In addition, all people, especially those from underrepresented groups, are supported and encouraged to further cultivate skillsets, be innovative, develop solutions to complex problems, and accept/engage with a diversity of perspectives.