Jessica D. Hess

PhD student, The University of Texas at El Paso (UTEP)


If there is a will, there is a way.

What do you do?

I test novel drugs to find compounds that kill cancer.

Why did you choose this field?

My family (great great grandparents) emigrated from Mexico and settled here in El Paso, Texas. I am not from here, but became interested in cancer research because the majority of my family that grew up here have been affected by cancer. I am working to identify novel drugs that will hopefully be less toxic than current chemotherapy.

What do you look at and think, "I wish younger me would have known this was possible"?

I was accepted to my PhD program with an embarrassingly low undergraduate GPA (2.2), but was accepted because of my work experience and determination. I have been in research for approx. 3 years now and can proudly say I am among the most published in my laboratory. When I'm not in the lab, you'll also find me working on my small business (Cell Kulture Co.). I am proof that following your passion can be well-worth the risk of failure.

Why do you love working in STEM?

I love learning and understanding the molecular mechanisms that keep us alive. The microscope has given me a whole new appreciation of life's complexity.

Best advice for next generation?

If there is a will, there is a way. Don't feel discouraged if the path to your dreams is different or longer than anyone else's. Passion and persistence are what make a great scientist.

Inspo quote / fun fact / role model

“I am among those who think that science has great beauty.” - Marie Curie

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