In honor of Black History Month this February, we caught up with Keystone Symposia Fellow Dr. Erika Moore, Rhines Rising Star Assistant Professor in the Department of Materials Science and Engineering at the University of Florida. Dr. Moore shares her enthusiasm for studying how biomaterials impact immune responses and reflects on how her experiences in the fellows program have shaped her career.
1. Briefly describe your research, why it is important, and what motivates you to pursue this area.
Dr. Moore: My research is focused on combining materials science and immunology to understand how we can design and use biomaterials to control the immune response. My research is important because millions of people use biomaterials every day (i.e., if you're wearing a contact lens) and there is a critical need to understand how our bodies respond to foreign materials implanted in us. I am motivated to do this work because I truly believe the immune system is the coolest body system and I am fascinated by its plasticity.
2. Share a pivotal moment that sticks with you from your experience as a Keystone Symposia Fellow, and how it impacted you.
Dr. Moore: During my first Keystone, I was able to speak with leaders in the fields of B cell engineering- a field I was previously relatively ignorant of prior to the meeting! To put it mildly, the exposure to scientific expertise at the Keystone was truly out of the box. These conversations encouraged me to think creatively about my own work.
3. How has being a Keystone Symposia Fellow helped shape your career?
Dr. Moore: Serving as a Keystone Symposia Fellow has exposed me to a much wider range of research, scientific themes to uncover, and application for my own research endeavors. Through the meetings, I have furthered my network and formed lasting relationships that have helped me shape my research themes.
4. What are your thoughts on the importance of mentorship? How have mentors influenced your career, and how do you act as a mentor for your community?
Dr. Moore: Mentorship is the foundation of academic success. With my mentors, I have been encouraged, sponsored, and guided towards my current career. My mentors have made a huge difference for me by offering gentle advice. I act as a mentor by publishing articles around mentorship (in Science), creating affinity groups (such as BlackinBME), and forming new faculty meet-ups.
5. What advice do you have for future candidates for the Keystone Symposia Fellows program?
Dr. Moore: Be bold, speak up, ask questions, and share your opinions!
Erika Moore, PhD
University of Florida
Department of Materials Science and Engineering
About the Author
Heather Gerhart earned her MA in Cultural Sustainability from Goucher College, and brings an understanding of how social science principles can be brought to bear in support of inclusive program design and development. She has worked in support of Keystone Symposia’s Diversity, Equity and Inclusion leadership since the inception of the organization’s Diversity in Life Sciences Program in 2007. Previously Keystone Symposia’s Sr. Grant Coordinator and Program Analyst, she helped to found, develop, and acquire funding for the Program in response to biomedical workforce development priorities at the National Institutes of Health and the National Science Foundation.
Shannon Weiman earned her PhD in Biomedical Sciences from the University of California, San Diego, specializing in microbiology and immunology. Prior to joining the Keystone Symposia team, she worked as a freelance writer for leaders in academic, industry and government research, including Stanford University’s Biomedical Innovation Initiative, the University of Colorado’s Biofrontiers Program, UCSF, the FDA and the American Society for Microbiology.