Faye-Marie Vassel, 2018
From MIT Biology Profile: Faye-Marie Vassel
Although [Faye-Marie] Vassel’s mother trained as an OB/GYN in Russia before moving to the U.S...Vassel spent her early childhood emulating her father, a social worker, and engrossed in the social sciences. She intended to one day work in science policy — until high school when she joined an after-school program at the American Museum of Natural History in New York City, and discovered an additional interest. Here, Vassel took a series of molecular biology classes and met her first female research mentor, a postdoctoral fellow at Rockefeller University, who encouraged her to participate in another, more advanced science program funded by the National Science Foundation. As an undergraduate at Stony Brook University, [Vassel] initially declared a major in physics before switching to biochemistry.
Growing up in New York City, it was not lost on me that — despite the city’s wonderful diversity — people from historically underserved groups were still missing from many science-related positions. It got me thinking about the dire need for policymakers to improve curricula to make science more inclusive of all life experiences. There’s this idea that science is apolitical when it’s really not, and that mindset can have detrimental effects on equity and diversity in science.