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Black microbiologists push for visibility amid pandemic

Johnna Frierson by Cornell Watston for The New York Times
Furman biology alumna Johnna Frierson '05 is assistant dean of graduate and postdoctoral diversity and inclusion at Duke University School of Medicine. Photo/Cornell Watson for The New York Times

The New York Times published a story about Black in Microbiology Week, which kicked off on Sept. 28 and features virtual events highlighting Black scientists in a variety of disciplines. One of those scientists is Furman University alumna Johnna Frierson, assistant dean of graduate and postdoctoral diversity and inclusion at Duke University School of Medicine.

A 2005 Furman biology graduate and member of the Alumni Board, she earned her Ph.D. in microbiology and immunology from Vanderbilt University.

In the NYT story, Frierson said, “The number of Black scientists has been largely stagnant over the past decade. There’s something in the system that is not optimized in order for us to continue diversifying in the way we hope to.” Frierson, a former virologist, participated in a panel Sept. 28 focused on education disparities in the Black community.

In addition to her role at Duke, Frierson serves as co-principal investigator of the Research Experience for Undergraduates program for Meeting the Grand Challenges in Engineering awarded by the National Science Foundation in March 2017.

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