Unique Scientist: Susana Najera

Let’s welcome Susana Najera (She/her) to our family! Susana is a cell and molecular biologist from Mexico currently earning her Master’s degree at John Hopkins University and the National Cancer Institute in the USA!

What kind of scientist are you?
I am a second year master’s students at Johns Hopkins University where I am doing a dual degree in Molecular Targets and Drug Discovery as well as Regenerative Medicine and Stem Cells. Additionally, as part of my master’s, I am a researcher at the National Cancer Institute, where my team and I have discovered key metabolic vulnerabilities of kidney cancer opening the door for new therapeutic approaches. I also serve as a mentor for students at various levels here at the NCI and through online programs at UC Davis, UCSD, and UC Berkeley.

What made you want to become a scientist?
I have always been fascinated by the unknown and science seemed to be the field where I could dedicate hours in search of the unknown while getting a degree and receiving a paycheck. That feeling of excitement, mystery, and freedom is what keeps drawing me back to science.

“The “Mexican stereotypes” that many people have in this country… it amazes them when they see that a Mexican can do science, can do good, and can be educated.”

Susana Najera

What makes you a #UniqueScientist?
The fact that I am a Hispanic woman who immigrated from Mexico to the US makes me unique in science. Working in a male-dominated field (like urology) reminds me everyday of how much work we still have ahead of us to reach equal representation in science. The “Mexican stereotypes” that many people have in this country… it amazes them when they see that a Mexican can do science, can do good, and can be educated. It’s fun to see their faces when I redefine what it is to be Mexican in this country.

What’s something cool you do outside of work?
Outside of work I like to volunteer in the community, either feeding the homeless or giving talks to near by high schools about science.

If you had one wish and could change anything in science, what would it be?
I would change the hierarchical status and competitive atmosphere that still exists.

“Working in a male-dominated field reminds me everyday of how much work we still have ahead of us to reach equal representation in science.”

Susana Najera

Who has inspired you the most in your journey to where you are now?
I think professors, family members and patients have all inspired at different stages of my journey. First, professors were key to my success and to introducing me to science. Second, my family’s encouragement and words of wisdom have make me believe in myself all of these years. Third, patients have showed me the impact that I can make in any setting, as a hospital volunteer, medical interpreter, or as a researcher, and that has given me the motivation to keep going with a smile on my face.

Let’s end on a high note! What’s something you’ve done this week that you’re proud of?
This week I was able to scrub into a surgery to procure a tumor and do glucose and glutamine tracing experiments on a freshly resected kidney tumor!


#WomenInSTEM, #LatinxInSTEM, #LatinasInSTEM, #BrownInSTEM, #ImmigrantInSTEM

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