This is Kina, StemBox creator, coming at you from Seattle, Washington!
Just a little bit about me since we may not have been properly introduced yet. I’m 23 years old, I have a small chihuahua named Stellaluna, and I currently work in a lab that researches gene therapies for diseases like HIV.
I was raised in Las Vegas, Nevada and moved to Seattle for college. I went to Seattle University and majored in General Science with a focus in Chemistry and Biology.
During college, I realized that one of my dreams in life was to become a research scientist and change the world for the better. Science is a great way to change the world because it allows a scientist to use creativity and passion to help a lot of people all over the world with their work and discoveries. Even if an experiment doesn’t go according to plan there’s a lot to be learned from it, which is why I love what I do.
While I was in school I was trying to find a lab to join and had a surprisingly difficult time of finding a position in a lab. It seemed to me that any one who was willing to devote their time and energy to learn and help progress research should be able to do so. However, I was faced with challenge after challenge while applying to labs which resulted in graduating from college having never worked in a lab. I was going into the world trying to get paid to do something I had never done before.
Fortunately, I was lucky enough to know what I wanted to do in life and the only thing left was actually doing it. So I didn’t stop trying after I graduated. I had written a senior synthesis in school about disruption of the CXCR4 chemokine co-receptor on the surface of T-cells to prevent and cure HIV infections in mice based on some literature research. I was lucky enough to get the chance to meet the head of one of the lab’s whose work I had used to support a lot of my arguments in favor of gene therapy and show him my research. When I asked him if I could intern at his lab to learn about the field, he was happy to oblige.
After a summer interning I was hired – as a Research Technician. I have been with the lab for the last two years actively participating, learning, and contributing to the research the lab does. I have been so happy for the opportunity, but I also realize just how lucky I have been to reach this point.
Realizing how lucky I am makes me remember all the different times people have doubted my ability to pursue science based on my appearance, my personality, and my gender. I’ve had a wonderful support system and parents to remind me that I can do what I want, how I want to in this world so long as I am willing to work hard and give it my all.
Now, I think it is time I pay that attitude forward to all of the girls in the upcoming generation who want to explore science. Which leads me to StemBox.
The idea of StemBox came from a car ride to West Seattle, where my boyfriend and I were talking about how young people discover science and their interest in it. At school, during the book fairs there would be “Gross Science!” kits for sale, but they were always intended and marketed for the boys. A lot of the things I was supposed to be reading and playing with were pink and fluffy. I don’t know what made me use my allowance to buy the “Gross Science!” kit, maybe it was the competitive side in me wanting to prove people I could do things just as well as the boys could, but I’m glad I did. I want to give girls their own equivalent of “Gross Science!” without turning them off to the idea of science. And so, here we are.
StemBox is a monthly subscription box that is intended to provide girls with a hands-on approach to STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math). Each box will have different concepts and experiments for the girls to explore. In addition to the boxes we will host a YouTube channel where girls can find tutorials for the experiment in the box, learn more about that box’s topic, and meet a real female role model from the field featured that month.
Hopefully StemBox can help fill that need for female role models in the STEM field while encouraging girls to ask questions and explore science hands-on, free from the gender roles society has assigned them.
If you have thoughts, comments, ideas, or even just a hello, please feel free to email me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I can’t wait to see where StemBox goes and where it might lead our future STEM women.