Hello! My name is Alanna Condren and I am earning my PhD in Medicinal Chemistry at the University of Illinois at Chicago. The department of Medicinal Chemistry and Pharmacognosy at UIC focuses on improving drug design and discovering natural drug products. In this collaborative environment we identify, extract, and analyze compounds from living organism that can help humans fight against disease. There is a long history of this kind of research helping to advance medicine – one of the most famous antibiotics known to man, penicillin, is a natural product that was isolated by Alexander Fleming from a fungus in 1928!
As a member of the natural product community, I have cultivated a strong passion for scientific communication. Though technology has helped improve access to knowledge, there is little communication between the public and the scientific community. By increasing the access and interactions the public has to scientists around the world, we can work to improve future political, environmental, and economic discussions.
During my first year in graduate school, my boss encouraged me to volunteer as a workshop leader for the EYH Chicago conference. EYH offers such a unique opportunity for STEM professionals to interact with the public and encourage young girls at an age when they begin to doubt their ability to purse STEM careers. The day was filled with so much learning and laughter that I could not wait to submit my workshop application for the following year. I was immediately drawn to the pursuit of curiosity, love, and community that EYH fosters and promotes. Additionally, I have always felt it is my responsibility as a Hispanic woman and scientist to give back to the community by acting as a source of guidance and mentorship. For the girls to see not only a woman in a leadership position but also a woman of an underrepresented ethnicity is key to inspiring their passion for STEM and eliciting motivation to pursue careers in any field regardless of their background. I feel that this introduction is pivotal in advancing and diversifying the future of innovation in our country.
My career goal is to earn a position where I can teach and contribute to my local community by volunteering and revamping the way we share scientific findings both within the science community and to the general public. I also look forward to volunteering my time with EYH during this year and many years to come!