Dr Wanida Lewis

Food Science
North Carolina State University

About Me

My undergraduate degree was in Chemistry and I graduated from Saint Augustine. When I was younger, I thought I wanted to be a pediatric neurosurgeon.

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

I took a chemistry class in high school that I really enjoyed.

What are you up to now?

Currently, I work at the Department of State as an American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) Science and Policy Technology Fellow. I work in the Office of Agriculture Policy and I am a foreign affairs officer. My job is to ensure that science is used to make policy decisions.

What do you do to unwind?

I’m quite the yogi. In fact I practice and teach yoga. I also do African dance in my spare time.

My Research

I conducted doctoral research in the area of peanut science where I investigated the antioxidants compounds in peanut skins to see if they had anti-inflammatory properties. My research proved that they did and could reduce inflammation in mice cells.

I had the freedom and ability to take my research in whatever direction I wanted. So, I chose this path.

The coolest thing about my research was the ability of combining different disciplines (food science, chemistry and molecular biology) into one project.

The most challenging part of my research was learning cell culture.

My Grad School Experience

I decided to go to grad school because I wanted to give myself career options instead of choosing a common path that chemists take. I wanted more than “the usual.”

Of course. I suffered bouts of depression and imposter syndrome during my time in graduate school. As a way to combat that, I made frequent trips to a therapist, started a consistent workout routine and found a support system made up of women of color pursuing PhDs.

My biggest supporters are my family, friends and sorority sisters of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc.

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

My dad used to say this to me and it applies to everything I do, “Short term sacrifice for a long term goal.” This mantra keeps me going even when I can’t see an immediate return on my time.

Fav Mantras

“As long as you do your best, that’s all that matters.”

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