You must be strong and confident in your dreams and aspirations. No one can take away the drive that you already possess. Never allow anyone to make you feel inferior and shine regardless of the discomfort you may feel.

 

Who is Shandrea D. Stallworth?

I am a Graduate Research Assistant – NASA Fellow. I am responsible for developing experiments to discover new genes for abiotic and biotic stress tolerance in rice/weedy rice by making strides towards resolving food insecurity due to climatic issues such as extreme temperatures and the introduction of new diseases.

2007: High School Diploma – E. E. Smith High School 2011: Bachelors of Science, Plant Science/Biotechnology – Fort Valley State University 2016: Masters of Science, Plant Breeding/Genetics – Auburn University

 

 

Specialized Training

Crop and Weed Physiology, Plant Genetics, Population Genetics, Plant Molecular Biology

 

 

Special Awards

2018: MSSGC/NASA Fellowship Recipient

2016: MS State College of Ag Endowed Scholarship Recipient

 

 

How did you choose to pursue this field?

I stumbled across this field in pursuit of a degree in Pharmacy. My undergraduate institution was notorious for their pharmacy pipeline with Florida A&M University and the pre-pharmacy program was housed in the college of agriculture. I opted for an elective in plant biotechnology and fell in love.

 

 

 

Who was your inspiration or role model that guided you to this field?

My role model in this field would have to be Dr. Sarwan Dhir who serves as the Director for the Center of Biotechnology at FVSU. While trying to find my fit during undergrad, Dr. Dhir encouraged me to explore EVERYTHING that interested me and I did just that. He became my mentor when I joined the college of agriculture and we still communicate with each other to this day.

 

 

Did you always have the desire to work in this field? If not, what was your intended field? Why did you change careers?

I did NOT have a desire to work in plant science. I thought I wanted to be a medical doctor and change the world one patient at a time. Now, I change the world one plant at a time simply because I stepped outside of my comfort zone.

 

What do you love most about your job?

Right now, I am really enjoying the amount of freedom I have in my research. I have an amazing (PI) Primary Investigator and mentor who constantly pushes me to explore the questions that I have no matter how big or small. If we can fit it into the budget and finish in a reasonable time frame, his response is always GO FOR IT.

 

 

What has been the most rewarding aspect of your job or career?

The most rewarding is serving as a graduate assistant for the university chapter of MANRRS (Minorities in Agriculture, Natural Resources, and Related Sciences). Through my involvement, I am able to mentor undergraduate students while sharing my experiences.

 

 

 

What things would you want to see changed about your current job?

The only thing that I would change is to increase the representation of minority women in my focus area. I am currently the only African-American woman pursuing a Ph.D. in my department and it can get a little lonely and disheartening at times.

 

 

 

What are the most difficult things about working in your field?

The lack of diversity. Not only do we lack minorities, but we lack women in the area of weed physiology. It is imperative that children see adults who look like them in places they never thought they could go to increase this diversity.

 

 

What are your future goals related to your career?

My current goal is to continue the development of the ag consulting business (Be Blunt Consulting, LLC) that I currently head with two additional African-American women pursuing Ph.D.’s in agriculture via policy and education. The goal is to assist African-American farmers with the development of efficient farming practices and assist with securing grant funds.

 

 

 

What tips would you offer to anyone thinking about entering into your profession/field of study?

You must be strong and confident in your dreams and aspirations. No one can take away the drive that you already possess. Never allow anyone to make you feel inferior and shine regardless of the discomfort you may feel.

 

 

 

How have you combated the stigma of being a “woman of color” in STEM?

I remember to remain true to myself and speak up for what I need in my focus area. Because my department is male dominant, I find that I have to remind them that I do exist. I apply for everything and I show up to just as much. I ensure that they see me, often.

 

 

 

 

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?

I would have to tell myself to start early and NOT take the 2 years off that I did. I it took so much discipline to remain focused in school especially knowing that I could have been halfway there. I need my younger self to know that it is ok to be afraid but it is not ok to quit.

 

 

 

Can you provide some words of wisdom to young ladies thinking about entering a STEM field as a career choice?

You must be mentally strong and self-care should always be number one your list. It is ok to take mental health days and recuperate when needed. Do not let anyone tell you differently.

 

 

 

What is your favorite quote?

Someone else’s world growing does not mean that yours is shrinking. -Unknown In life I celebrate my circle’s wins as if they were my own. I have learned not to want what others have and appreciate what is mine because you truly never know what took place for it to happen.

 

What are some interesting facts about yourself that you would like to share?

I have found a new appreciation for comic books and it is because of Black Panther. Shuri put women like me back on the map. I teach kickboxing to relieve stress.

 

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.

 

 

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