Former Obama White House Senior Policy Advisor, Dr. Knatokie Ford: The Importance of Changing the Image of STEM
In her remarkable career, Dr. Knatokie Ford, biomedical researcher and former Senior Policy Advisor in the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, continues to prove one thing: the scientist who communicates well can truly affect change across wide spectrums of society. Whether it be disseminating accurate information about their work to the public, developing effective science policy with government leaders, or advocating for more diversity in STEM careers – it is essential in today’s media-driven world, she says, for scientists to be able to communicate their messages broadly, beyond the scientific community, to the public via different communication methods.
It is through such efforts that the non-scientist becomes “aware of contributions that scientists make to everyday life and even to solving some of our most pressing challenges that impact the world,” said Dr. Ford in a recent interview with the publication, Madison 365. As an astute researcher, science communicator, educator and entrepreneur she has helped enhance the image of science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) among young students and policy makers alike. For instance, as a Senior Policy Advisor in President Obama’s science and tech policy office, she designed and led the national initiative called “Image of STEM”, which used the power of entertainment media to improve the public perception of STEM in order to promote diversity in the workforce.
She is currently Founder and CEO of Fly Sci Enterprise, LLC, an education and media consulting organization focused on leveraging the power of storytelling to promote social change, particularly in STEM fields. “Diversity in STEM is so important not just because it’s the right thing to do, but because it is also a driver of innovation,” Dr. Ford told the publication, Atlas of the Future. “Without it, we are missing out on great ideas.” She became interested in science after a childhood accident left her blind in one eye, compelling her to begin to wonder how things, including her eyes, functioned.
Dr. Ford was a postdoctoral research fellow at Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, completing her Ph.D. in Experimental Pathology at Harvard University where she studied age-related macular degeneration; in addition, she received her B.S. and M.S. degrees in Chemistry/Biological Chemistry from Clark Atlanta University.
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