Unique Scientist: Mo Kaze

Time to meet the cheerful Mo Kaze (She/her)! Mo is a microbiologist working towards her Ph.D. at University of California, Merced in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I’m a microbiologist, I love all things tiny. I talk about what things I experience as a PhD student (everything from fighting for funding to DNA sequencing superstitions) on my twitter (@MoKrobial). I run an undergraduate research group for URM [underrepresented minority] students where we hunt phages [viruses that infect bacteria], investigate the dental microbiome, build air quality sensors and whatever else we can dream up!

What made you want to become a scientist?
I have a wild, insatiable curiosity and science is the perfect field for me: I love to learn new things and ask a million questions about them.

“I have a wild, insatiable curiosity and science is the perfect field for me.”

Mo Kaze

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I started my PhD much later than most people tend to, and had a circuitous route to grad school (one I wouldn’t change!) I am a queer, fat, community college-attending, tattooed, purple-haired college drop out. I am rambunctiously excited about what I study, what I know, and what I want to learn and I love getting other folks excited too.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I make comics, they are terrible and I love them!

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I wish it was open to everyone. I didn’t know I could be a scientist because I had no exposure or access to it for a long time. I couldn’t see myself as a scientist. I was told more than once that if I didn’t become a lot smaller (physically) I would never get a lab position and principal investigators (PIs) wouldn’t accept me into their programs. A lot of the messages we get are about the ivy league white marathon-running solitary genius guy – but this is changing! We’re working to tear down the walls that keep people out.

“A lot of the messages we get are about the ivy league white marathon-running solitary genius guy – but this is changing! We’re working to tear down the walls that keep people out.”

Mo Kaze

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
Bold, loud women! Dr. Cat Pausé, who started #fatPhDs! Dr. Carol Lauzon (my Master’s mentor) was an absolute inspiration and encouraged me to try different things and created an amazing, welcoming and inclusive lab.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I finished my very first solo manuscript! 3,986 words! I can’t wait to get it polished up and submitted.


#WomenInSTEM, #QueerInSTEM

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