This semester, the Koshland Integrated Natural Sciences Center (KINSC) launched a new program designed to highlight the careers of accomplished scientists who make their home on our own campus: our professors. The Growing Up in Science program aims to give Haverford’s scientists a place to speak about their career paths, personal struggles, and proudest achievements, making explicit to students the many diverse journeys that campus scientists have undertaken to get to their current careers. The program is being hosted over Zoom and is open to any interested students who want to attend.
“The series is meant to introduce faculty to the KINSC community in a new light by having them sharing their personal stories, setbacks, successes, detours, achievements, etc., that lead them to where they are now,” said Marielle Latrick, associate director of the KINSC and an organizer of the program.
Ryan Lei, assistant professor of psychology, was integral to the organization of the series, acting as the moderator for the first event, which was held on March 26.
“Different groups face unique challenges in pursuing STEM, so we wanted to make sure to give voice to a variety of experiences,” said Lei. “Racism, sexism, homophobia, classism, immigration status, and other forms of inequality often deter students from minoritized backgrounds from pursuing STEM careers, so it is important to create a sense of community and shared experiences where possible.”
The first installment of the Growing Up in Science series featured one of the newest members of the KINSC community, Assistant Professor of Chemistry Clyde Daly, who joined the faculty last summer. In his talk, he focused on his culture, his Christianity and how its role in his life has changed, and the role his race and heritage played in his career.
Daly described his experience in life as a set of parallel paths, a set of different stories, where a choice in one impacts the choices in another.
“Some of the most important topics I discussed were where my family comes from in Montserrat and my journey with religion, and how little effect it actually had on my scientific journey,” he said. “Finally, I talked about how my scientific journey was affected by my sense of cultural isolation, but how, once that was solved, things went really smoothly.”
Daly was particularly struck by how Lei’s thoughtful questions at the event made him think of his own scientific journey in a new light.
“It made me think of my life in a more combined way than usual. It also helped me see how streamlined it has been since I figured out how to find enriching spaces for myself,” he said.
During his presentation, Daly discussed the bifurcation of his identity between that of a chemist and that of a Black man, and how at college he often tried to keep the two groups separate. He also talked about how his experiences changed as he moved from Gordon College, his undergraduate school, to the University of Notre Dame, his graduate school.
“At Gordon, I kind of bifurcated myself, I was science-y for the science people, I was a person of color for the people of color,” he said. “I think when I went to Notre Dame, the larger populations of both students allowed me to join a group where I could be both, but it really only worked when I found the right group for it.”
Latrick said that she hopes that Daly’s event is the first in a long-running series, noting that organizers are aiming to hold at least one or two conversations per semester (and hopefully transitioning to in-person events once health and safety guidelines allow).