Dr. Michelle ReidAlumna – PhD University of FloridaDepartment of Chemistry
What motivated you to excel at UF?
At every level of education, I had Black teachers or professors, until studying at the University of Florida. This pivotal experience shifted my career aspiration to focus on equity, and thus diversity in the field of chemistry. My peers inspired me to pursue many endeavors at UF; however, the lack of BlPOC among my professors helped me refine my motivation to excel while at UF.
What are your career goals?
My career aspiration is to bring equity and thus diversity to the field of chemistry. While in my final year at UF, for the Madelyn Lockhard Dissertation Fellowship, I investigated Black professors (based on appearance) at the 60 Association of American Universities (AAU) Department of Chemistry and there were less than 20, at the time. These harsh facts reenforced the need for more BlPOC in the professorate. The few professors I could look to for understanding helped me complete my PhD through direct conversations, lectures and by the underestimated significance of representation. Although, I had an exceptional academic advisor and mentor, I also needed reassurance and support from someone who had similar lived experiences.
What does community mean to you?
The term community has changed meanings for me from simply feeling accepted, belonging to authentic engagement with wholehearted empathy of the many networks I exist within.
How have Black role models inspired you?
The professors I investigated during my Fellowship helped me complete my PhD through direct conversations, lectures and by simply existing in these roles. Renã Robinson lifts my spirits and encourages me anytime I see her name. Najoh Tita-Reid helps me realize my goals are attainable through continual adaptation. Rosalind Brewer once told me to dream big and I will never forget that day because it was a year before she took the world by storm. Candice Z. Ulmer is my forever peer-mentor and I am continually in awe of her accomplishments. These women help me to become fully aware of myself everyday that is how Black role models inspire me. The amazing Black men and women I have had the pleasure of receiving encouragement from have elevated my spirit, pushing me forward toward my dreams.
How are you making a positive impact on your community?
With a fellow UF Chemistry Department alumna, Candice Z. Ulmer, and Christina Jones, I co-founded the Coalition of Black Mass Spectrometrist (CBM) for Black analytical chemist and users of mass spectrometers to connect. Separately, with Females in Mass Spectrometry (FeMS), I co-chair a mentorship program that inspires over 200 participants across the world to remain and continue their scholastic pursuits in analytical chemistry.