Celebrating Diversity in STEM: Dr. Crew Smith
This February, the Boston Public Schools (BPS) Office of External Affairs will be celebrating Black History Month by spotlighting incredible members of Boston’s STEM workforce. A huge thank you to these talented individuals who volunteered to share their stories as we honor STEM diversity and encourage students interested in a STEM career path.
With a doctorate from Yale University, and a bachelor’s degree from Princeton, Elenoe “Crew” Smith is a talented research scientist with a passion for STEM education. Currently working as a member of Vertex Pharmaceuticals, Crew uses her cellular biology and genetics training to design and execute experiments pertaining to the treatment of sickle cell disease. In addition to her lab responsibilities, Crew also works hard to train junior scientists, promote diversity, and encourage inclusion, particularly in the research organization of the company.
Q: What motivated you to enter the STEM workforce?
A: I like problem solving and figuring out the answers to things. I gravitated towards science and math in high school and I was more interested in the science courses when I got to college. I had great science mentors, like my father, who advocated for me to continue my science training after college and pursue a career in research. It was clear that contributing to the sickle cell disease research effort was the most effective way that I could use my skills to improve the lives of patients, which had been a goal of mine since middle school.
Q: What has been your proudest career achievement?
I am most proud of the work that I did as a postdoctoral fellow at Boston Children’s Hospital. The research that our team did has directly led to a novel transformative therapy that is currently in clinical trials.
Q: Why is it important for today’s students to actively engage in STEM learning?
A: What I have seen is that scientists can do and become anything. The critical thinking developed by STEM learning can be applied to most aspects of life, driving innovation and productivity. These are skills that companies inside and outside of STEM are searching for in today’s workplace.
Q: If you could give your high-school self career or life advice, what would it have been?
A: Get exposure to as many different experiences as possible. There is more freedom and flexibility in high school to try new things and to figure out what excites you. A second piece of advice, which I think is just as important to life and career, is to show appreciation. A simple email, phone call, or text saying “thank you” will go a long way in building relationships and setting you apart from others.
Boston Public Schools believes that an immersive STEM program is more than just teaching science, technology, engineering, and mathematics skills. STEM education is an all-encompassing experience that encourages students to solve problems and seek inquiries that are relevant to our current society using STEM competencies to address challenges. Thank you, Crew, for including your voice in this important conversation.