Within his major of microbiology, Reginald Woods has found the perfect discipline, one that combines both his passion for science and his devotion to alleviating issues in minority communities. “My love of science and medicine pushed me to pursue microbiology. I also chose to study microbiology because the communities I am a part of have disproportionately suffered from diseases caused by pathogens and infectious diseases,” he said.
While studying microbiology at The Ohio State University, Reginald is supported by the Louis Stokes Alliances for Minority Participation (LSAMP) Program, which assists universities and colleges in diversifying the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) workforce through their efforts at significantly increasing the numbers of students successfully completing degree programs in STEM disciplines. The program helps students meet faculty and staff within their disciplines, provides research opportunities, and supports students with their graduate school applications.
“What motivated me to become a part of LSAMP was the community of students who came from similar backgrounds as me and wanted to be successful in scientific disciplines. I knew before I entered my first year at Ohio State that being around individuals who are interested in advancing scientific and technical industries would be extremely beneficial to me, especially because I was someone who had lacked that type of community prior to college.” Now, as a third-year LSAMP scholar, the very community Reginald sought has brought him some of his best friends and biggest supporters, and he has no doubt that his LSAMP cohort and he will achieve “amazing things.”
In addition to the encouragement he received through LSAMP, Reginald’s mom and grandmother have inspired him. “Both of them never let any obstacle hinder my siblings and me in our educational pursuit. The sacrifices they have made have inspired me to work hard in the hope of representing them the best way I can.” Reginald is also inspired by younger generations of minority scientists who could look to him as an inspiration: “Having the privilege to attend Ohio State, pursue microbiology, and take part in so many amazing opportunities, has shown me that I have an obligation to help people who wish to acquire those same opportunities. Ultimately, the inspiration of my family and the opportunity to help cultivate future generations of minority scientists is what inspires me to succeed.”
Reginald plans to graduate on May 5, 2019. Post-graduation, he will pursue medical school to become a physician because he hopes to work with underserved communities and mentor subsequent generations of minority scientists. He also will continue to conduct research, in the hopes of decreasing the prevalence of HIV in underserved communities. “My ultimate life goal is be a part of the collaborative network of professionals who are actively working toward finding a cure for the virus.”
Underrepresented students make up just a fraction of those receiving degrees in STEM fields, and Reginald has this advice for those Buckeyes following in his footsteps: seek mentorships and stick with a discipline that makes you excited to discover more and not to pursue a field because you think you are “supposed” to do it. “Ohio State is a huge place, so take advantage of ALL the opportunities you can; you will be surprised by how fast time flies! I’d also advise them to not give up when things get difficult.” Understanding that a science major can be a demanding field to pursue, Reginald acknowledges that there will inevitably be roadblocks. But there are also, he says, great rewards such as gaining an extensive scientific knowledge base, critical thinking skills and problem-solving skills to be equipped to discover and fix complex issues worldwide.
"The work they do will inspire others, which is the beauty of being a scientist."