Muyinatu Bell - 2018 SPIE Women in Optics Planner
Assistant Professor and PULSE Lab Director
Johns Hopkins University, USA
Country of Birth: USA
In my formative years, as a result of my mother's commitment to education, my older brother allowing me to do his math homework with him, and my learning of the word scientist as broken down to a curious little girl by Sesame Street, I cultivated a love for math and science. When I was 6 years old, I declared that I wanted to be a scientist when I grew up. I later learned that I could mix my love for math and science when I was selected to participate in a program for female high school sophomores who excelled in these two subject areas. This program was designed to introduce us to the wonderful world of engineering.
Now I spend my time conducting research, teaching, writing, fundraising, counseling, advising, mentoring, traveling to present my work, engineering new ways to visualize the contents of the human body using light and sound.
At times, I felt like I have been overlooked when I know I have the same qualifications as others who are being considered for various types of professional opportunities. I learned that I have two options in cases like these: (1) know how and when to speak up or (2) ignore what is happening and focus on making myself the best version of myself, simply because it is not always the right time to speak up. That opportunity and privilege may come days, years, or decades later.
Follow your passion. Don't let anyone discourage you. Don't be afraid to be your unique self, even if it may seem to be an unpopular choice at the time. I wish someone had told me the importance of building and maintaining relationships early on. Knowing that now, I can say that one day you will have the opportunity to meet others like you who share similar interests and can relate to your unique story.