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Black in STEM


Ashley Gelin.

Ashley Gelin


Major and Degree Pursued: Biochemistry and Molecular Biology, B.S.

Prospective Graduation Year: 2024

Current Position: Undergraduate Researcher, Okafor lab

Connect: LinkedIn | Email


What motivates you to do/pursue science and/or medicine?

As a daughter of Haitian immigrants, my parents helped me push the boundaries of my potential in science from an early age. From being active in the scientific community through STEM programs at Yale University to conducting research in the Okafor lab at Penn State for two-plus years, exploring the biological systems that govern metabolism and carcinogenesis continues to fascinate me to this day.

In the Okafor lab, I investigate the functionality and specificity of the ancestral liver X receptor and explore the evolutionary linkages between structurally similar nuclear receptors. We hope that increasing our understanding of this nuclear receptor could aid in developing isotype-selective therapeutics.

What does Black History Month mean to you?

Black History Month provides an opportunity to spotlight the hundreds of thousands of Black engineers, doctors, lawyers, inventors, and scientists who contributed to the development and progression of technology, science, and medicine. I believe Black excellence needs to be celebrated and acknowledged for the numerous and significant contributions that America was built upon. When Black voices from many fields are heard, Black History Month is able to amplify these voices and serve as an example to younger generations that Black excellence persists and continues to be resilient.