Stacia Nicholson

5th Year PhD Student
Pharmaceutical Science -Toxicology
St Johns University

About Me

I earned a Bachelor of Science degree in Toxicology, minor in Chemistry and I graduated from St John University. When I was younger I wanted to be a lawyer or a computer scientist. Besides Grad School, I created a blog style website that serves to advance the understanding of science. I want to bridge the gap between the communication of scientific information within the scientific community and the general public. I am the sole content provider for my site, which means I wear many hats. My two biggest hats are writer and editor for the site. I saw an opportunity in the lack of credibility in current science news and the absence of content authored by real scientists in these spaces. I noticed that some of my friends and other social media community members have misconceptions about science that are often based on poorly reported publications. It’s awesome running my own blog because I own the vision but it can also be quite the challenge creating all the content on my own.

How was your experience with STEM classes and teachers in middle and high school?

I was a smart kid. I did well in my classes, particularly in biology, chemistry, physics and earth science. I aced some math topics but others were more challenging for me and I didn’t do as well. However, my teachers were always encouraging.

After grad school, what’s next?

Fellowship, graduating with my doctorate and being a science writer. I may even pursue a postdoc or return to industry.

What do you do to unwind?

I usually hang out with my friends and family, dine at restaurants, go to the movies and go to church in my free time.      

My Research

Tell us about your doctoral research

My research revolves around lead toxicity. I’m in a Neurotoxicology lab, I was initially investigating the role of microglia in lead induced neurological disorder. My work still pertains to the effect of lead on macrophage lineage cells, but due to some of my observations it has shifted away from the original direction in a pleasantly surprising way.

What is the coolest thing about your research?

The coolest thing about my research is that its quite different from what my lab is used to working on, so it really is my project, and I have a lot of autonomy concerning it. My mentor is very supportive and quite delighted with the directions I’ve taken and the progress and discoveries I’m making.

What is the most challenging part of research for you?

The most challenging part of my research is not having the immediate access to equipment that I need and pretty much learning from  the ground up, seeing that I’m working on a  novel idea for my lab.

My Grad School Experience

Why did you choose to go to Grad School?

Three reasons: career advancement, to become an expert and establish credibility.

Do you ever feel discouraged? How do you get around that?

Yes. There are some people who don’t want to see you rise past a certain point. I experienced this with people who had helped me in the past so it was shocking when they withdrew their support. I overcame it by being my biggest advocate and by not allowing fear or hatred to hold me back.

Who are some of your biggest cheerleaders?

My biggest advocates are: my mom, some faculty, my lab mate ( I only have one; we’re a small lab.), our advisor and the Assistant Dean and his secretary.

What do you want to say to up and coming Melanin Genius?

Be persistent! You are your biggest advocate. Don’t allow fear, racism, or any sort of intimidation to rob you of your destiny.

What has been the most useful life advice you have received?

Life is a fight for territory; when you stop fighting for what you want, what you don’t want takes over.         

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