Unique Scientist: Dr. Beverley M. Rabbitts

Time to meet Dr. Beverley Rabbitts (She/her)! Dr. Rabbitts is originally from South Africa currently working as a Research Assistant Professor & Equipment Coordinator at Washington State University in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am a biochemist by training fascinated by the mechanics of the molecular functions of biomolecules, including their catalytic activities and interactions, the roles these play in key molecular fundamentals of life, such as energy transduction, cell communication, molecular memory, and aging, and their dynamic regulation in space and time, by posttranslational modifications and allosteric factors.

What made you want to become a scientist?
A big part was the fun, intelligent, dynamic people I interacted with in Greg Hermann’s lab when I was deciding what to do with my career. Everyone became really immersed in their nerdy projects in the lab but also had cool hobbies. I feel like at least five of us were avid knitters!

“I am an LGBT immigrant woman in science […] married to a beautiful, passionate, skilled woman in healthcare. I am a white South African-American […]. I am a survivor and am neuro-atypical.”

Dr. Beverley M. Rabbitts

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I am an LGBT immigrant woman in science. I am married to a beautiful, passionate, skilled woman in healthcare. I was born in South Africa and also lived in Japan and Singapore, in addition to six states of the USA. I am a white South African-American and am bilingual. I am a survivor and am neuro-atypical. I am 34 years old which is pretty young for a professor in biochemistry.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I do a little of everything! I paint emotive landscapes, take photos of the Palouse region where I live, including with the first-ever Pentax SLR that I inherited from a great grandfather photographer. I am learning to play electric bass guitar, I knit and embroider, I make salads and cocktails, spray paint old bikes, and make jewelry. I get addicted to stupid cellphone games and Netflix marathons and building puzzles. I camp, hike, picnic and play frisbee golf. I can cure bamboo, drive manual transmission, build a fire, and make origami. I like building tiny model houses with architecture I invent. I can keep going at this forever!

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would change the public’s values. I wish that education and science could both be valued higher by the average person. Then grant money would flow in from donors and taxpayers, and salaries would help recruit the smartest professionals into teaching positions. Kids would grow up appreciating a lot more about the nature and technology around them, and benefiting from discoveries like in healthcare.

“I do a little of everything! I am learning to play electric bass guitar, I knit and embroider, I make salads and cocktails, spray paint old bikes, and make jewelry. […] I camp, hike, picnic and play frisbee golf. I can cure bamboo, drive manual transmission, build a fire, and make origami. I like building tiny model houses with architecture I invent. I can keep going at this forever!”

Dr. Beverley M. Rabbitts

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My sister is always a role model, she is a hardworking perfectionist with an ambitious medical-research career in pediatric anesthesiology. My first research advisor Greg Hermann was meticulous about poster design and crafting a research talk and this led in part to me teaching science communication. My PhD advisor Phil Cole wisely recommended that I pay close attention to questions when I give a seminar, and that has served me well. I was inspired by the big picture vision of Bob Balaban. I have been influenced by so many people, including women in science like Janis Lochner with her confident elegance, Kathy Wilson with her infectious passion, and the fearless “out” gayness of Dana Miller and Sharon Milgram.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
So far this week I’ve had two emails from people at work thanking me for having been helpful. I currently work in a service-oriented position because I direct core research resource facilities that intersect with many trainees and principal investigators, and it is a good balance to have alongside constructive feedback that steers me towards always challenging myself and improving my effectiveness as a teacher or leader, ensuring my delivery of reliable resources for science research. It’s a relatively unusual career direction but really awesome for those that are excited by new technologies and passionate about helping many researchers apply technologies to their variety of projects. I tell people, I basically play with toys all day.


WomenInSTEM, #QueerInSTEM, #AfricanInSTEM

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