#WhyIScience Q&A: How a summer at Broad helped foster a love of research for a young scientist
Chanell Mangum discusses the impact the Broad Summer Research Program had on her career path and what she’s learned about leadership, representation, and the power of curiosity.
Your time with BSRP in 2021 helped solidify your decision to pursue research as a career. What was it about your time with Broad that summer that really turned you on to research?
As part of the program, we got to speak with senior scientists every Friday. They talked about why they got interested in science, what their path was, what research they were working on. And I also talked with my cohort about their goals and aspirations. Through all that, I realized I was interested in research enough to keep pursuing it.
I also found I loved really digging into a problem and asking a lot of questions. The curiosity part really sold it for me. After the program ended, I knew for a fact that I wanted to go to grad school.
What was the biggest thing you learned from BSRP?
I learned how to be an independent thinker and to understand how to identify an unanswered question and investigate possible answers in my research. I also learned how to troubleshoot to figure out a solution myself before asking for help.
Our mentors really helped with my professional development, but also with my personal development too. Bruce Birren (an institute scientist at Broad and the founder of the Broad’s diversity initiative that hosts BSRP) shared a quote with us that really changed how I thought about leadership. He basically said you don’t have to have a title to provoke change and be a leader. You can lead by just influencing one person. That really helped me understand that I can have influence at any stage of my scientific career.
I saw that recently with some of the things I do outside of research. For example, I just finished doing three sessions with Broad Scientists in the Classroom.
That’s a program where Broad scientists volunteer to teach a unit in genetics and evolution in every eighth-grade classroom in Cambridge. What was that experience like for you?
That’s been really interesting. The girls were asking me about science but also about personal stuff. When I was discussing this with my coworkers and friends later, I realized that I was a science role model for these girls. I’m now in a position where younger people can start looking up to me the way I have looked up to other people when I was younger.
What inspires you in science?
The questions that aren't answered yet — the questions that we have not even thought about. The curiosity about what could potentially be out there to discover and trying to find answers to those questions are definitely what inspired me to start and continue on my journey in science.