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Yolanda
Simpson

Cohort 6

Hometown: Hillsborough, NC

Major: Biochemistry and Neuroscience

Research Interest: Drug development and discovery



CSS has afforded me so many resources, and overall has made it clear that I am not alone in this journey, and regardless of my career path in STEM, I'll have a team and a family backing me each step.




WHAT DREW YOU TO THE CSS PROGRAM?

Much of my academic interest has been rooted in science: I took my first chemistry class as a sophomore in high school, I attended the North Carolina Governor’s School West with an Area 1 in Natural Science, and I entered UNC as an intended chemistry major. When I found out there was an opportunity to be a part of a scholarship program that would surround me with like-minded people and increase my curiosity for science, I immediately hoped that I would find a home within this program.


WHAT HAS BEEN YOUR FAVORITE CSS EXPERIENCE SO FAR?

Selection weekend is usually the first memory that comes to mind, but the entirety of the Summer EXCELerator is an experience I’ll never forget. Having the opportunity to welcome 39 other students to my family and learn so much about them was an irreplaceable experience, and will always be my favorite (the trip to D.C. was a fun bonus too!).


HOW HAS CSS SHAPED YOUR CAREER GOALS?

Prior to coming to UNC, I was unsure what I wanted to do after I graduated. CSS has enabled me to take part in workshops and programs that have helped to shape this direction, specifically the John’s Hopkins BSI-SIP program I took part in in the summer of 2020. With this opportunity, I was able to see scientists that looked like me working towards their MD-PhD’s, giving me the confidence I needed to decide to officially pursue this path. CSS has afforded me so many resources, and overall has made it clear that I am not alone in this journey, and regardless of my career path in STEM, I’ll have a team and a family backing me each step.


WHAT IS YOUR PRIMARY RESEARCH INTEREST?

My primary area of research interest is in drug development and discovery, predominately in metabolomics and further understanding the chemical foundation of drug transmission within the body. Currently, I work in the Kash Lab under Dr. Thomas Kash in the Bowles Center for Alcohol Research; his lab is based in neuroscience and pharmacology, where I work predominately with mice models, exploring techniques such as immunohistochemistry, cell staining, tissue imaging, behavior scoring, and perfusion.


AWARDS AND HONORS

  • CSS Distinguished Scholar Award
  • 2021-2022 Eve Carson Scholar
  • Hayden B. Renwick Academic Achievement Award
  • Dean’s List