Unique Scientist: Timmy Le

Let’s all welcome Timmy Le (He/him) to our UniqueFamily! Timmy is neuroscientist currently working towards his Ph.D. at the University of Massachusetts Medical School in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am a neuroscientist and currently a Biomedical Sciences Ph.D. student at the University of Massachusetts Medical School. During my Graduate Masters studies at the University of Hartford, I got interested in the roles of glial cells, specifically astrocytes and how they are implicated in neurodegenerative diseases. Starting from a small, humble lab in Connecticut, this interest in glial biology grew to the point that I am in LOVE with glial cells and how they are implicated in other types of neuropathology, such as psychiatric disorders.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I have not put much thought into becoming a scientist when I was growing up since I always wanted to be a physician. What made me change my career interest from a career in medicine to research was the stigma surrounding mental illness and how difficult it is to treat it. This led to my interest in trying to elucidate it by understanding it more on a biological level so that we as a society can hopefully end the stigma and treat mental illnesses better.

“Another attribute is that I have cerebral palsy and, from my experience, I feel that there is a stigma surrounding those with a disability being least than capable of accomplishing certain things […]”

Timmy Le

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I believe that I have certain attributes that would make me consider myself to be a #UniqueScientist. The first one is that I am a first-generation college student within my intermediate family and the first one to pursue a Ph.D. in my extended family. Another attribute is that I have cerebral palsy and, from my experience, I feel that there is a stigma surrounding those with a disability being least than capable of accomplishing certain things and I would like to dispel that preconceived idea by sharing my Ph.D. journey on my various social media platforms.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
Outside of the lab, I like to go hiking, experiment in the kitchen with new recipes, and during the winter, I coach high school wrestling. Coaching high school wrestling is a way for me to show that scientists have other interests outside of science and we are capable of influencing the next generation in other non-scientific ways. This was exemplified by my proudest moment as a coach when my team won the Sectional Team Sportsmanship award last season.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
Sometimes it feels that there is a sense of competition within science and that this competition gets intensified when a certain lab feels that they have to be the first one to publish data on a certain topic. It is understandable that they want to be the first to report new information, but there is a better way of approaching this, such as setting up better collaboration between “competing” labs in order to tap into each other’s knowledge about a specific subject. In the end, the real winner is not a specific lab, but science and humanity as a whole since it gained new information.

“Coaching high school wrestling is a way for me to show that scientists have other interests outside of science and we are capable of influencing the next generation in other non-scientific ways.”

Timmy Le

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
There are many scientists throughout my academic career that have inspired me to be where I am today, whether it is my 6th-grade science teacher, undergraduate professors at The Catholic University of America, or my graduate professors at the University of Hartford. Throughout this journey, the most influential and supportive people were my parents and my younger sister Tiffany. Without all of these people, I do not think this scientific journey would be possible.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
My proudest moment this week was taking time off for myself and taking lots of naps without feeling any guilt.


#DisabledInSTEM, #FirstGen

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