Stephon Alexander (left), Lorin Crawford (center) and Michelle Dawson talk about how their identities as members of underrepresented groups have affected their career paths during Brown University's inaugural Dr. Samuel M. Nabrit Conference for Early Career Scholars. Photo: Nick Dentamaro/Brown University

Date June 20, 2019
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Early-career scientists explore research achievements by underrepresented scholars

At the first Dr. Samuel M. Nabrit Conference, molecular life scientists from historically underrepresented groups gathered at Brown to learn about cutting-edge research; Brown professors and junior researchers discussed how their identities as members of underrepresented groups have affected their career paths.

PROVIDENCE, R.I.[Brown University] — This month, for the inaugural Dr. Samuel M. Nabrit Conference for Early Career Scholars, approximately 75 molecular life scientists at the beginning of their careers gathered at Brown to explore cutting-edge research conducted by scientists from historically underrepresented groups at leading universities across the nation.

Portrait of Dr. Samuel M. Nabrit
A portrait of Samuel M. Nabrit, which joined those of other historical Brown luminaries in Sayles Hall back in 1999. The Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry hosted a conference for early career molecular life scientists named in his honor.

During the conference the invited speakers also discussed how their identities as members of underrepresented groups as well as institutional culture, diversity and inclusion impacted their career trajectories.

Brown School of Engineering professor and associate dean Christopher Rose moderated a faculty panel titled “Finding the Right Home for Your Research Career: Where Does Diversity Fit In,” which featured Stephon Alexander, professor of physics; Michelle Dawson, an assistant professor of molecular pharmacology, physiology and biotechnology; and Lorin Crawford, an assistant professor of biostatistics.

Hosted by the Department of Molecular Biology, Cell Biology and Biochemistry, the conference was named for Samuel M. Nabrit, Brown’s first black Ph.D. recipient and an accomplished marine biologist. After earning his doctorate from Brown in 1932, Nabrit continued his trailblazing academic career, becoming president of Texas Southern University in 1955 and serving in a number of national roles, including membership on the National Science Board and Atomic Energy Commission.