Unique Scientist: Dr. Esther Odekunle

Here comes our yellow queen, Dr. Esther Odekunle (She/her)! Dr. Odekunle is a neurobiologist by training and currently working in the pharmaceutical industry (GlaxoSmithKline) in the United Kingdom where she focuses on antibody engineering for therapeutics!

What kind of scientist are you?
I did a PhD in neurobiology, investigating neuropeptide systems primarily in starfish. However, I recently changed fields and currently work in the pharmaceutical industry where I focus on discovering therapeutic-grade antibodies for various diseases.

What made you want to become a scientist?
Science always fascinated me as a kid. I experienced so many wow moments, and till this day science still manages to leave me awestruck. I knew I wanted a career where I’d always learn new and fascinating things about the body, different animals, the environment, etc. So science was the only way for me to go!

“I’m now using this uniqueness to encourage up and coming scientists from diverse backgrounds to follow their passions even if the people who currently represent their fields don’t look like them.”

Dr. Esther Odekunle

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
Being a black woman and a PhD-holder in science makes me unique; I often find myself in spaces where the majority of my colleagues don’t look like me. While this was daunting at first, I’m now using this uniqueness to encourage up and coming scientists from diverse backgrounds to follow their passions even if the people who currently represent their fields don’t look like them.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
I travel! I love to experience different cultures, different types of food, and different landscapes.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I wish that the contributions of underrepresented scientists throughout history were highlighted and celebrated the way they should be.

“I wish that the contributions of underrepresented scientists throughout history were highlighted and celebrated the way they should be.”

Dr. Esther Odekunle

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
My parents. They work unbelievably hard to make sure that my siblings and I can live a better life. They inspire me to keep going no matter what, and leave a positive legacy for those behind.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I encouraged a number of students to follow their dreams to pursue a PhD in areas they are passionate about!


#WomenInSTEM, #BlackInSTEM

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