Sharon Diaz earned her doctorate from the University of South Florida College of Medicine. Here she shares a little about her career and the inspiration behind it.
What is your specific area of STEM?
Medical sciences/medical research.
How would you explain your STEM field to young girls?
Medical researchers study how our body works and what happens when our bodies don't work well. We try to discover ways to prevent diseases and provide cures for things like cancer, diabetes, etc.
What traits might a child possess that may indicate an interest or aptitude for your STEM field?
Children who ask the "why" questions are demonstrating a natural curiosity about how things work. They aren't satisfied with just knowing facts but also understanding how and why those conclusions were made.
What did you know about your STEM field when you were a child?
When I was a child I did not know medical researchers existed. My interest in science peaked in high school when I was exposed to biology and had an amazing teacher, Mrs. Parker.
Why did you choose your STEM field? Were you inspired by someone?
I was inspired to become a medical researcher when a tragedy changed my life in high school. My smart, amazing, friend was diagnosed with cancer and passed away within months of his diagnosis. I kept asking myself "why can't we cure cancer"? I decided I wanted to make a difference in the fight against cancer.
What are some really cool things that people in your profession work on?
Medical researchers get to work in laboratories where they create (design), carry out (implement), and think about what the results mean (analyze) in experiments. My favorite part of being a researcher was getting to look through a microscope and discovering a living world that's invisible to our eyes! Microscopes make something small seem much bigger, kind of like a magnifying glass. Our eyes can't see it, but our bodies battle everyday to keep us healthy.
Think of the Superheroes you read about or see in the movies. In our bodies, the Superheroes are our immune cells. They are the good guys that defend our bodies against the villains. The villains are things that cause disease like bacteria, viruses, cancer cells and other things that can make us sick. Medical researchers find ways to help our Superheroes (immune cells) defend our bodies against disease.
What inspirational message would you give young girls to inspire them to pursue STEM?
If you want to learn about why our bodies work the way they do and help find ways to keep people from getting sick, then think about becoming a medical researcher. We still haven't discovered a cure for many kinds of cancer but we are always looking for smart, curious girls to keep looking for answers!
Thank you for contributing, Sharon!
Women in STEM, we invite you to take our survey. You'll inspire young girls and contribute to the success of the STEM Girls Books series!