Unique Scientist: Stephanie Rogers

Time to meet Stephanie Rogers (She/her)! Stephanie is working towards her PhD studying how the brain functions and new ways we can understand seizures in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am currently getting my PhD studying how the brain functions and new ways we can understand seizures. I also created and currently teach a human health class for non-science majors as an adjunct instructor at Fordham University with the goal of empowering my students to make informed health decisions.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I grew up in a working class family with no science knowledge. My older sister was diagnosed with untreatable epilepsy when she was young and my family struggled to understand what her diagnosis meant. As I grew older I also witnessed the stigmatized interactions people had with my sister. The inaccessibility of science to us and the misinformation circling the community about epilepsy was what inspired me to pursue science.

“The inaccessibility of science to us and the misinformation circling the community about epilepsy was what inspired me to pursue science.”

Stephanie Rogers

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
I come from a working class family, of which 2 people have chronic illnesses and a steady stream of medical bills. I remember my father working 2 jobs to sustain us and the financial burden when he lost his position. Without significant financial aid and scholarships, and UPenn’s policy to meet 100% of students’ financial need, I wouldn’t have been able to attend college.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
Outside of the lab I produce a live outreach show called A Lot on the Mind. The show focuses on demystifying and de-stigmatizing neurological disorders by teaching the public the biological basis of disorders through interactive and engaging talks and demonstrations. We then feature artists and performers with a diagnosis to share their talents and their stories. Our goal is to show that people are more than a medical diagnosis. Aside from outreach, I also do target archery.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would make the path to science more accessible. There’s a huge under-representation of people from lower socioeconomic statuses in science and there are many reasons for this. One contributor of this is that many labs (not all!) only hire undergrads as unpaid interns, which is a valuable experience. However, students who need an income during this time are excluded from this experience just because they need a paycheck. I’d like to see the phasing away of unpaid internships.

“I remember my father working 2 jobs to sustain us and the financial burden when he lost his position.”

Stephanie Rogers

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
If I’m being honest, it’s my parents. They always cheered me on and encouraged me to never give up. They are the strongest people I know, and they have faced a lot of scary situations but they have never given up fighting for a better life. If I’m half as resilient as they are, then I will consider myself a success.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
I write fiction to de-stress and I finished the first draft of a “novel” I’ve been writing for the last 8 years. I’ll probably never publish it because it’s more about the process of writing and creating (and it also helps me to get in a different, more creative mindset that I can then apply to other personal projects I’m doing), but I’m still pretty proud that I actually finished it.


#WomenInSTEM

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