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Old Problem, Old Solutions

By Kirsten Weir Old Problem, Old Solutions Failure to question conventional wisdom contributes to persistent leaks in scientific pipeline. © Getty Images/Jan Stromme Monique Ferguson nearly slipped through the cracks. Though she was a top student in high school and college, she faced a bumpy road as an African-American woman pursuing a science career in what she felt was "a good-old-boys

Kirsten Weir

Old Problem, Old Solutions
Failure to question conventional wisdom contributes to persistent leaks in scientific pipeline.
© Getty Images/Jan Stromme


Monique Ferguson nearly slipped through the cracks. Though she was a top student in high school and college, she faced a bumpy road as an African-American woman pursuing a science career in what she felt was "a good-old-boys system." At the University of Texas Medical Branch (UTMB), where she attended graduate school, she was the first African-American to graduate from the department of microbiology and immunology. "It's hard when you don't have someone who looks like you in an administrative leadership position," she says.

Fortunately, the university's committee for diversity in graduate education reached out to her. The committee served graduate students in all fields, but luckily for Ferguson, the founder and chair happened to be a microbiologist. He was the only African-American scientist in the department, but one was...

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