Chloe Kirk, Biochemistry and Molecular Biology PhD student researcher at the University of Miami, shares her journey through science to inspire future scientists and break down stereotypes of what is a scientist.
Her introduction to the world of scientific discovery began as a senior in high school. With the opportunity to volunteer in a cancer biology lab at the University of Minnesota, Chloe’s eyes were opened to the endless possibilities of scientific research. As she later recalls, what made this opportunity so special was seeing, “in real-time how you can use the information learned in science textbooks and apply them to cutting-edge research answering unknowns that could cure disease.”
Soon after, Chloe began her undergraduate education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison where she pursued degrees in molecular biology and legal studies. While a student, she couldn’t stop engaging in research and used every bit of available free-time to be in a research lab.
Starting with primate research at the Wisconsin National Primate Center before becoming a research assistant in a heart arrhythmia lab and a summer fellow in a bacteriology lab, Chloe tried all different types of research to find her true passion within science. But it took a 5-month internship at a biotechnology company in Japan for her to realize cell biology and protein mechanisms were her calling.
Coming back from the internship, graduate school was the logical next step. Chloe learned the type of research she loved and, above all, her desire to pursue independent research experience, like the opportunity interning in Japan had provided. She finished up her bachelor’s conducting a senior thesis in a cell biology lab and matriculated to the University of Miami where she is currently working towards completing her PhD in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology.
While research has been a large focus of her life for the past 8 years, she equally has become passionate about advocating for increased representation in and communication of scientific fields.
While navigating the wide-ranging field of science, she hit many of the same stumbling blocks she and fellow scientists regularly discuss – how to find a research lab, how to apply for PhD positions, how to even find out you like science to begin with!
Seeing these hurdles between aspiring scientists fulfilling their passions, Chloe now devotes her time outside of the lab to demystify the life of a scientist and share how anyone can become a scientist.
Through her blog and Instagram, Chloe highlights exciting research, community engagement, common struggles in science research, and lifts the lid on what it’s really like to be in science.
Beyond social media, Chloe actively engages with her community being featured on numerous blogs and podcasts talking about her experience in science, speaking with K-12 classrooms around the country about her research and how anyone can become a scientist, and organizing field trips for local high schoolers to see what university research looks like! This past year, Chloe was awarded two science outreach and communication grants, from ASCB and ASBMB, to run field trips each for 60 local Miami high schoolers.