It was through faith that my career journey fell in to place and it was through faith that I ended up in my career fresh out of graduate school.
Who is Dr. Treva T. Brown
I am a Physical Scientist at U.S. Naval Research Laboratory – NASA Stennis Space Center
My responsibilities are to complete technical tasks to solve problems in various projects, define solutions for research problems via unconventional or novel approaches, write and contribute to scientific papers, give scientific presentations, perform surface analyses using transmission electron microscopy, scanning electron microscopy, and atomic force.
Atomic Force Microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy, Transmission Electron Microscopy, Inorganic Nanomaterial synthesis, surface characterization techniques, and surface analysis studies
Special Awards or Recognition
Winifred-Burks Houck Leadership Award, American Chemical Society Younger Chemists Committee Leadership Award, Louisiana Board of Regents Fellow, Athleta Power of She Community Award
How did you choose to pursue this field?
I always like to say that this field chose me because I actually did not know what I wanted to pursue once I graduated high school. However, different mentors propelled me to pursue a career in STEM because of the lack of minorities in the field. Once I gathered up the courage, I declared Chemistry as my major due to my inquisitiveness and the rest was history. I loved it and it loved me back as it opened many doors I never would have thought would be open to me.
Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field?
My parents, of course, guided me through my pursuit of knowledge in the field. My inspiration was, and still is, young girls of color that were/are always amazed that there is someone that looks like them that is a scientist. And my role models were the numerous people that saw something special in me that I couldn’t see in myself and provided resources that showed me that I too could be in their shoes one day.
Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?
Growing up, I always wanted to be a professional dancer because dance is my first love. However, experiencing some of the injuries I had during my time as a ballet dancer in high school and college, I knew that I needed something to do that was more stable no matter my physical condition.
What do you love most about your job or career?
I love actually seeing science unfold before my eyes under my microscopes, as well as being able to share the same things I see with my microscopes to the world around me.
What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?
The most rewarding aspect of my career has been the ability to do science outreach activities and travel to different parts of the country giving talks and presentations about my research.
What things would you want to see changed about your current field of study?
What are the most difficult things or disappointing aspect of your job?
The most difficult aspect of my job is keeping up with self-motivation. There is no one breathing down your neck to tell you what you should and should not be doing. You have to constantly stay self-motivated to propel yourself through your work and to continue to aspire towards greater heights and opportunities in the field.
What tips would you offer to anyone thinking about entering into your profession/field of study?
The first tip would be to NEVER let anyone tell you what you can and cannot do. You know your self and your capabilities, and only YOU will be able to make the choices that are best for you and your career. Second would be to seek out a support system. These individuals are your cheerleaders and will be there to help you when even you can not see your way to your end goals. Appreciate EVERY piece of advice, action, and help that your support system gives you, as I can guarantee that they are seeing something in you that you may not be seeing in yourself. Third would be to aim for the highest and do not be afraid of the negative words like “no”, “we regret to inform”, “you are not qualified”. I used to psych myself out like that, before I came to realize, if I just try with good intent, most of the time the outcome was in my favor. And if the outcome was not in my favor, that simply caused me to re-direct my focus towards something else.
How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?
It fuels my fire to go after everything that I have deemed to be for me. I accept the term”woman of color” in STEM to mean that I am trailblazing a path for those who are coming after me in the next generation, and for that, I hold my head high and must be confident in everything that I set my sights on aspiring to do. I LOVE being a woman of color in STEM. We are far and few and unique in our own right,
What advice would you give your younger self about your career journey as a “woman of color” working in a predominantly white, male-dominated field?
The advice that I would give my younger self is to jump on every opportunity that is presented with respect to your field/curriculum because you never know who you may meet that can help you further in your career path. I would also tell my younger self to study harder and don’t be afraid to ask questions if you don’t know something. Lastly, I would tell my younger self to be confident in conversation and stance as being bold and staying true to yourself in a predominantly white, the male-dominated field holds tremendous value and makes others in the field listen to what you have to say.
Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?
There are so many things one can say to anyone thinking about entering any field. For me, what helped me to get through navigating my STEM field was listening to my heart and standing firm on my faith. Without those two things, the decisions that I had to make navigating my career would not have been in my favor. So to any young lady thinking about entering a STEM field: be true to yourself, follow your heart, put your eyes on YOUR prize, stand firm on your faith, and your path will be laid forth for you without you even realizing it.
What is your favorite quote?
“Now faith is the confidence of things hoped for, and the evidence of things not seen”.Hebrews 11:1
There has been no point along my journey that I absolutely knew what my next steps were going to be. It was through faith that my career journey fell in to place and it was through faith that I ended up in my career fresh out of graduate school. I had always hoped for nothing but good things to come about after my school journey was over, but no one could have prepared me for my journey taking me to NASA, a little brown girl from the north side of Baton Rouge, LA. I still find myself pinching myself as if I’m living a dream.
What are your future goals related to your career?
My future goals would be to establish an outreach program centered around our interests and specialties. My ultimate goal is to have a program where I can provide secondary school students with their very own microscopes that they can assemble themselves, then go out and explore the world around them and engage their findings in on-line forums that scientists would participate in as well.
How has your family been a great influence or support system?
If it were not for my parents’ constant encouragement and support I already know I would not be where I am today. Neither of my parents has a four-year college degree and I am the first in my entire family to earn a doctoral degree. I am always so thankful that I was blessed with loving and supportive parents that instilled a great work ethic in me since I was a little girl. And as I had many gigantic dreams and ideas as I grew up, they never deterred me from following them, even if they knew that whatever I had put my mind to at that moment probably would not work in my favor. But, I sincerely thank them for letting me stumble sometimes as those moments built me up into becoming a stronger woman and allowed me to know what I wanted to pursue and how to go about attaining what I laid forth for myself. Now I find myself being their “parents” as I simply want to attempt to repay them just a little bit of everything that they have done and sacrificed for me to reach my dreams.
What are some interesting facts about yourself that you would like to share?
I LOVE to dance. Ballet has always been my first love, but any form of dance is my passion. I currently teach Zumba fitness classes in my spare time and host free fitness events around my community. I also have a social media outreach platform, @diva_treva, that started out as a motivational outlet for myself to propel through grad school which in turn ended up being motivation to others following along the same/similar journey I was taking. I also LOVE the color pink and Lego microscopes!
Follow Dr. Treva T. Brown
Facebook: Treva B
We hope you enjoyed learning about our latest “STEMsation”, please comment about how her experiences have inspired you, how your experiences can inspire others and nominate our next “STEMsation to spotlight their amazing accomplishments.