Nikki Traylor-Knowles, one of our Ph.D. alums, was featured in Cell Black in the Ivory, on the Cell Press. She was a student of Dr. John Finnerty, an associate Professor of Biology specializing in genomics and developmental biology. 

In her section, named “Tired of Hearing that We Don’t Exist”, Nikki wrote about her experience of diversity and racism in science. 

She wrote: “Pre-COVID-19, faculty meetings about diversity ended with, ‘There aren’t any Black women marine scientists; we can’t hire what isn’t there.’ And I would think to myself, surely, I am not the only one. Colorism has afforded me great privilege. I have not experienced the overt racism my darker-skinned colleagues and friends have.

Despite this, my academic experience has had undertones of otherness. It’s a mix of wanting acceptance, but also not relating. When you are told so many times that you don’t belong, you internalize it and question your passion. This has motivated me to be hyper-productive to prove my belonging.”

She added: “In the summer of 2020, when white people woke up to the violent racism assaulting Black people for the last 401 years, I was confronted with more meetings. The same sentiment prevailed; I was the only Black tenure-track assistant professor ever hired at my school because… we don’t exist. So, I did what any good scientist does, I asked Twitter. Do Black women in marine science exist? Turns out…YES, we do exist! Based on the overwhelming response, I started a group called Black Women in Ecology, Evolution and Marine Science (BWEEMS). We connect through common experiences, share science, and offer needed support. Black people are navigating an academic system built to exclude, and racism runs rampant. My hope is that as BWEEMS becomes more visible academia will finally accept that Black women in ecology, evolution, and marine science DO EXIST.”

Click here to read the full story. 

Posted 1 year ago on in Alumni News, News