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Joyonna Carrie Gamble-George

Co-Founder, COO, and Chief Scientific and Medical Officer, SciX

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Know, claim, and own your worth.

WHAT DO YOU DO?

During my doctoral studies in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University, I became an entrepreneur and co-founded SciX, a biotech company searching for data science-based methods to combat brain disorders and other health issues. As a scientist at my biotech company, I get to direct the research behind and development of wearable devices aimed at improving chronic health conditions in patients. A typical day involves writing up experimental designs for future research projects and working with a team of technologists, software engineers, and other scientists to create a prototype of the devices we dream of creating. I also get to tell the public about my scientific discoveries in the form of written works published in scientific journals or orally at meetings and seminars.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

When I was a kid, I wanted to be an artist, a physician, or a scientist. It wasn’t until I completed a summer research program while I was a high school student that was sponsored by NASA that I thought about becoming a scientist. I knew I wanted to become a scientist later on in life, while I was working in a research lab during my graduate studies at the University of South Florida. When I was finishing my Graduate Certificate program in the health sciences, I got an email about a volunteer opportunity to do neuroscience research at a hospital. I thought it would be cool to do research that involved studying the human brain. So I responded to the email, interviewed with the lab leader, and started doing experiments using drugs that have been known to treat kidney cancer to see if they can treat memory problems, such as those in people with a form of dementia like Alzheimer’s disease. This research opportunity was my first chance to do research that concerns the human brain. After this opportunity, I was completely hooked on neuroscience research and a little over two years later I moved from Florida to Tennessee to complete a doctoral degree in neuroscience at Vanderbilt University.

Moreover, my grandmother, Mrs. Menda Gamble Pettway, who raised me on a farm in rural Alabama, was my biggest inspiration and role model. She was a retired school teacher and believed in the importance of giving back to the community. Because of her, I saw how scientific discovery can be seen as a form of humanitarianism, especially when it is used to save lives by creating cures for common diseases that affect people worldwide. This is why I chose to become a scientist.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

I wish my younger self knew about the Lemelson Early Inventor Prize, which is an award provided to a young inventor of middle-school-age that creates a promising solution to real-world problems.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I love working in STEm because as a scientist I have the ability to use my mind and cool tools or machines to create treatments or technologies that can help people manage or cure their health conditions and even prevent them from getting a particular disease or disorder. Also, I get to inspire future generations of students, especially young girls, and ethnic and racial minorities, to desire a career as a scientist and provide an example of all the STEM career possibilities they can achieve.

I wake up looking forward to is my love of studying how brain cells, called neurons, work as a neuroscientist. What excites me about these cells if that I get to discover as a scientist what happens to them when they malfunction, and what I can do to fix them when they do not work properly. I find this exciting because it is similar to solving a puzzle with a lot of missing pieces and is quite challenging, especially since humankind does not know everything about the brain and how it functions. We are still learning about new processes and pathways that occur in the brain for use to carry on ordinary functions such as memorizing events, places, and people or having a preference for one thing over another.

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Know, Claim, and Own Your Worth. Do not settle for less in your life and know what you deserve in life, especially with regard to your STEM career. Do not give away your power or inner joy to others, but aim for your dreams in STEM despite the odds that may be against you. Lastly, be a living, breathing example of female excellence in STEM. Future generations that aspire to pursue a STEM education and career will look to you one day for guidance and view you as a role model or potential mentor.

INSPO / FUN FACT

“Don’t follow the path. Go where there is no path and begin the trail.” ~ Ruby Nell Bridges Hall