Rhodes Scholar and NSU Postdoctoral Associate Dr. Julia James Addresses Fellows Society Members

NSU SGA President Alex Lopez at Celebration of ExcellenceSpeech Delivered November 14, 2017

It is an honor to be here this evening to address such a distinguished group of
champions for NSU.

I received my doctorate in clinical medicine (immunology) at Oxford in a novel partnership between the National Institutes of Health (NIH), Oxford and the Rhodes Trust in 2011. The following year, I earned a place in a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship in epidemiology and global health at UCSF in San Francisco which I completed in 2015.
I have been affiliated with NSU since October 2016, when I arrived to start a position as a postdoctoral associate at the new Cell Therapy Institute at the Center for Collaborative Research in the laboratory of Dr. Shannon Murray.

I first met Dr. Murray at the NIH, while she was postdoctoral associate and I was a graduate student at the Vaccine Research Center at the NIH. We worked in the same laboratory however on different projects and maintained a connection after we eventually left the NIH. I taught at a liberal arts college and mentoring program while revising my dissertation while Dr. Murray headed to France and then Florida for a position as a scientist. When Dr. Murray told me that she was starting her own laboratory at NSU, I was excited to apply for a role as a postdoctoral associate at NSU.

For those unfamiliar with what a postdoctoral associate, or as I’ll now refer to as ‘postdoc’ does, here’s a brief description.

A postdoc is a period of training after graduate study that is an apprenticeship to a faculty member. A postdoc completes research, publishes papers, and assists in grant writing and supervision of students and research assistants. A postdoc provides training invaluable for aspiring faculty members.
My postdoc at NSU provides me with the unique opportunity to participate in the building of a brand-new research institute. The CCR’s proximity to HPD allows me to interact in a meaningful way with health professionals who may be future collaborators. Moreover, collaborations between CTI faculty and researchers at Karolinska create unique ecosystem for training postdocs, so far five of us at different stages in our careers.

My most memorable experience so far was my trip to Stockholm, Sweden last month to learn techniques for use in studies on cancer immunotherapy in Dr. Andreas Lundvist’s laboratory at the Karolinska Institute. While I was there, I attended a symposium on cancer in the very same room where the Nobel Prizes in Medicine are announced!

My motivations for entering the field of science go beyond the bench. I am driven by a desire to bring the benefits of research to underserved communities. I am convinced that one way to achieve this mission is to mentor and inspire a new generation of researchers from traditionally underrepresented backgrounds.

For this reason, I am an proud mentor and patron of STEM and STEAM (A- for inclusion of the visual and written arts) initiatives in science education (for the biomedical sciences careers program at Harvard University and the inaugural Dr. Julia James STEM Scholars Program at Hobart and William Smith
Colleges. I plan to pursue a career in research, teaching and leadership in undergraduate STEM education.

I am grateful for my postdoc training at NSU and for the commitment to
providing invaluable research experience to students at every level. So, on behalf of the postdoc community at NSU – thank you for your dedication and support of our work at the CCR and the broader NSU community.