After earning her bachelor’s degree at an HBCU, that is Savannah State University, college basketball player Chantrell Frazier began looking for where to combine her love for forensics and biochemistry. She applied for the Ph.D. program at Florida International University (FIU) and found a home in the Furton Research Lab.
Today, she has made history as the first Black woman at the university to earn her Ph.D. in biochemistry. “March 30th 2022, I walked into a room and walked out making history. I am the first Black woman to graduate with my PhD in Biochemistry at Florida International University,” Frazier wrote on Twitter.
The 28-year-old Tampa native was encouraged by a mentor to take up space as a woman of color in her field. “There’s a major need for people of color, for women of color to invade these spaces,” she told FIU.
“Her research focuses on human scent detection from our hands. It can be applied in forensics and viral detection, (eg Covid-19), and perhaps even determine who could be more prone to mosquito bites. Covid impacted her ability to conduct research on human subjects,” FIU reported.
The Florida Education McKnight Fellow and Florida AGEP Pathways Alliance (FL-AGEP) scholar’s groundbreaking research has received departmental funding and funding from the Dubai Police, FIU wrote recently. It said Frazier’s work has “sparked collaborative efforts within the FIU research community, as her optimized protocols have been applied to examine human odor profiles to understanding the odors that attract mosquitos.”
Frazier will now join the faculty at Framingham State University in Massachusetts as a Postdoctoral Teaching Fellowship in Chemistry. She also hopes to encourage more women of color to pursue STEM fields.
Her advice to anyone who would like to follow in her footsteps is: “Don’t be afraid to make mistakes; they can turn into some pretty great lessons.”
She said: “Somewhere along the path where I was heading, I got lost and ended up exactly where I wanted to be.”