Unique Scientist: Dr. Kishana Taylor

Time to meet Dr. Kishana Taylor (She/her)! Dr. Taylor is a virologist from the USA currently working on her postdoctoral training at the University of California, Davis!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am a virologist. I currently study Influenza A virus co-infection and subsequent genetic exchange between viruses that can occur as a result. In general I like to research viruses that jump from animals to people. I like to communicate general information and concepts about infectious disease, vaccination, and overall health. I do this as a way to bridge the gap between the scientific/medical community and what the general population, especially black communities understand about these topics.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I originally wanted to become a scientist because I wanted to study and learn everything I could about my favorite animal, the dolphin. I stayed in science because I want to make an impact on the world by learning more about and possibly contributing to a cure or a treatment to an infectious disease. Also, science is COOL (!) and I want others to start associating all kinds of faces to what a scientist looks like.

“I am not what the average person thinks of when they are asked to think of a scientist.”

Dr. Kishana Taylor

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I am a #UniqueScientist because I am a plus-sized black woman. I am not what the average person thinks of when they are asked to think of a scientist.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I am a very hardcore Harry Potter Fan. So much so that I attend conventions and am apart of online communities dedicated specifically to being a Harry Potter fan. Additionally, I enjoy other nerdy fandoms like Doctor Who and the Marvel Universe as well as sports like soccer. Though most of my time these days is taken up by the Niffler, my son.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I wish that science, academic science in particular, would stop pretending that its separate from the rest of the world. The same biases that exist in the general population exist in science. Science is not apolitical and scientists are not above emotion and are not particularly rational because they are still people. Scientists aka people require work-life balance and fulfillment outside of the lab and they deserve to be treated like human beings.

“Science is not apolitical and scientists are not above emotion and are not particularly rational because they are still people.”

Dr. Kishana Taylor

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
The people who have inspired me the most are my Momma who was a single parent and managed to raise 3 pretty great human beings, my middle school science teacher, Mr. Pruden who took the time to let me know that he saw potential in me and encouraged me to find better friends who wouldn’t steer me in the wrong direction, Queen Latifah because she is groundbreaking black female actor who isn’t afraid or ashamed of her body and last but not least my current supervisor Samuel Díaz-Muñoz (@sociovirology) who in addition to being #LatinXInSTEM has made it a point to try and bring decency and humanity into the lab and has in many ways kept me from leaving science altogether.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
This past week I took time off from work to spend with my family and indulge in some self-care which is super important for both my mental health and my science.


WomenInSTEM, #BlackInSTEM, #WoCInSTEM

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