Now more than ever-- and not just during Black history and women's history months, not just when Black woman trailblazers have passed away -- is the time to shine a light on the Black women both seen and unseen in science.
Jewel Plummer Cobb,Rediet Abebe,Alexa Canady,Georgia Mae Dunston,Marie Daly, andAnnie Easleyare just a few Black women across the field of biology, computer science, mathematics, and medicine who have made history as some of the "firsts" in their fields. With computational biology still making a name for itself within the larger scientific fields, we should find excitement and encouragement from our predecessors that there is still "room" for Black women to be at the forefront of such a rapidly growing field.
The Black Women in Computational Biology Network strives to empower, enlighten, and embody Black women navigating science in a field that does not always cater to our intersecting identities. It normalizes Black Girl Magic in a field that could make the Black experience in science advancement feel like an anomaly. Many of the powerful Black women mentioned, as well as their peers, found themselves having to thrive in a space that was largely male-dominated, in spaces where they may have felt isolated, alone, misunderstood, and overlooked. Despite these challenges, they managed to quite literally change the face of science in some way, often having to work exceptionally harder than their contemporaries to be equally recognized for their achievements. We thank and honor their legacies which have opened the doors for Black women like us today and those which have inspired the development of this network.
Sharing our stories will be one of the most powerful aspects of our community. Whether that's dealing with microaggressions in the lab, insights on publishing an interdisciplinary paper or choosing a graduate program or struggles in developing a leadership brand as a new faculty member or group leader in industry. Here we'll be able to learn from one another and create a space to address challenges, obstacles, and lessons learned throughout our journeys. These stories will reflect the state of our field and the value that Black women add to the science we see every day.
The Network will be the glue that holds together creative thinking and intellectual action that will empower us to find ways to communicate our science to our surrounding communities. There are members of our network who are first-generation of some sort, some who have a passion for education and outreach, and some that have found creative ways to talk about their science with the people around them. A future goal of The Network will be to focus on ways that we can collectively engage youth or other budding scientists who don't know that our field exists, provide academic support services, and talk about the work that we do and why it's important not just within the scope of science, but in how our work impacts communities.
The Network will serve as a platform for professional and mentoring support.Our members are comprised of scientists from the undergraduate level, graduate, and into a wide variety of post-graduate professional fields. Mentoring circles play a large part in many peoples' success --almost everything we do has been influenced by the help of others. Creating a platform for broadening circles of connection is crucial not only to our individual professional development but for building the strong relationships that turn into the collaborations which advance the science we all love.
What exactly is that science? Computational Biology is a broadly defined term that can encompass many disciplines. I have personally worked alongside physicists, engineers, physician-scientists, evolutionary biologists, statisticians, data scientists, software engineers, and chemists, just to name a few. I am happy to see that our growing member network reflects the truly diverse nature of our field. There is, however, one thing that all members of our network are excited about, and that is biology. Here it does not matter whether you're a biologist just learning how to use Python, or a Software Engineer trying to understand the electron transport chain. Whether you are excited about using or developing tools for ecological research in climate change, or tools to interpret imaging data for cancer research, or analyzing data obtained from ancient DNA, we can all share excitement for answering big questions with our innovative approaches.
We are continually thankful for the allyship and support shown throughout the building of the foundation of this community. Our first members are truly talented individuals that I cannot wait to grow with as our community blossoms.