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Douglas-Green encourages women scientists to "take up space" at STEM panel
Posted February 29, 2024


Assistant Prof. Simone Douglas-Greene, Ph.D. (right), shares with the audience about her experiences being an African American woman in science research and academia.



At a February panel discussion celebrating the International Day of Women and Girls in Science, Dr. Simone Douglas-Green, assistant professor at the Wallace H. Coulter Biomedical Engineering Department at Georgia Tech and Emory University, along with fellow panelists Dr. Julia Champion and Dr. Sybrina Atwaters talked about what it means to be a woman in STEM.


The event, aimed at recognizing the achievements of women in science, also brought together members of the STEM community at Georgia Tech to ask questions and swap stories about finding the right mentors, building a supportive network, and having confidence in one’s work.


During the event, Douglas-Green detailed her academic journey and the challenges she faced as an African American woman scientist.


As early as her undergraduate years at the University of Miami, she was involved in the Society of Women Engineers doing outreach, teaching, research, and mentoring. One of her favorite activities was Introduce a Girl to Engineering Day (IGED). Held in February, the event gave local high schools a first look into the field engineering.


“It was girls only, women only. And we would bring in students from the local high schools to spend the day with us at the University of Miami doing fun experiments, taking them to our classes and everything.”


While at Miami, Douglas-Green aspired to become a doctor and taught a chemistry workshop. It was in this role that she realized her passion for educating others, setting her on a 10-year path toward becoming an assistant professor.


“The product is being able to pour into other students and seeing them continue to grow and thrive,” she said.


As a Black woman in STEM and new faculty member in the biomedical engineering department, stepping into the role of both educator and researcher holds great significance for Douglas-Green.


Reflecting on her journey, Douglas-Green acknowledges the influential guidance and mentoring she’s received from amazing Black scientists like Dr. Manu Platt and her Ph.D. advisor Dr. Melanie Plaque, as well as Dr. Paula Hammond, her postdoc advisor. “It was no accident,” she said. “It was on purpose.”


Their teachings and conversations were able to have a profound impact in shaping her career precisely because of the perspectives they were able to share as Black scientists in their respective fields. Armed with those experiences, Douglas-Green understands the importance of adding context and providing mentorship to her students.


“Doing the job, I'm doing now as a professor is helping people just in a different way. And it's something that I've grown to value, especially being a Black woman, I'm realizing just within a couple of weeks the impact I'm having in my classroom,” she said. “Because we're actually working on a problem with maternal mortality, and tying it in with health disparities, and how that predominantly affects Black women. And there are conversations that I can have with my students that say a white male can't have.”


And as she continues to embark on her postdoc research exploring drug delivery via the interaction of nanoparticles on biological materials, the peers and friends she’s cultivated have become an important part of growing her academic community.


“There's a group—we call ourselves sisters in sciences for Black women. So, we all keep each other accountable,” she said. “When you just feel like your research isn't good enough, or your idea isn't good enough, sometimes you just need a person.”


In a field where pursuing knowledge and research can be often isolating, cultivating meaningful relationships with peers going through similar experiences has been transformative for her.


“We’re not just talking about science all the time and you need friends like that. Friends in science that don’t talk about science all the time.”


Looking back at her younger self, Douglas-Green wishes she had been more confident and unafraid to take up space. "Why do we, especially as women, feel like we have to shrink ourselves to fit in?" she asked the audience.


To that end, her experiences in academia have shown her something crucial: the importance of not playing it safe.


“I’d rather fail fast than be successful all the time, cause also where’s the fun in that?”



Kelly Petty  
Wallace H. Coulter Department of Biomedical Engineering