Vanguard: Conversations with Women of Color in STEM, or #VanguardSTEM for short, is a live, monthly web-series featuring a rotating panel of women of color in STEM discussing a wide variety of topics including their research interests, wisdom, advice, tips, tricks and commentary on current events. This web-series, and the online platform it spurred, is a signature program of The SeRCH Foundation, Inc., a not-for-profit organization dedicated to using science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) as a tool for social justice.
The guiding principle of the show is to create conversations between emerging and established women of color in STEM, where we can celebrate and affirm our identities and STEM interests in a safe space. Moderated by founder and host, Dr. Jedidah Isler, viewers share questions and input via social media in real time.
You can find all of our archived episodes here. In the meantime, join the conversation here on our site or via social media. We publish lots of great content regularly, so stop back often so you don’t miss out.
Meet The Team
Jedidah Isler, Ph.D.
Founder, Executive Producer & Host of #VanguardSTEM
Dr. Isler is currently a National Science Foundation Astronomy & Astrophysics Postdoctoral Fellow at Vanderbilt University. She was recognized as a TED Fellow in 2015 and a National Geographic Emerging Explorer in 2016 for her innovative research and efforts to inspire a new generation of STEM leaders from underrepresented backgrounds; as well as having been invited to Astronomy Night at the White House. She has been featured in various publications including Wired, Diversity in Action, Ebony, NPR:CodeSwitch, and The Crisis Magazine and her writing has appeared in the New York Times. As a speaker, Dr. Isler works with schools, museums, libraries, and nonprofit organizations across the country to advance the cause of truly inclusive STEM engagement and has established herself as a champion of access and empowerment in STEM education from middle school and beyond. Read more about Dr. Isler here.
Natasha Berryman, MA Candidate
Natasha, a native of the Great Lakes State, is a second-year graduate student in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Master’s-to-PhD Bridge Program. Under the guidance of Dr. J. Shawn Goodwin, Natasha studies the protein-protein interactions that modulate dopaminergic brain systems in the context of drug abuse. Before Natasha joined the Bridge Program, she worked as a communications manager, translating the impact of basic research to the people it serves. Before becoming a neuroscience researcher, Natasha was a STEM communications manager who committed her career to crafting messages and managing projects that were audience-centered, innovative and reflected her personal standard of achieving excellence.
Lana is the go-to strategist when it comes to helping key influencers and small businesses execute their processes, operations and events with seamless success. She spent more than 20 years in corporate America working for recognizable brands such as American Express, Cigna Healthcare, PriceWaterhouseCoopers, Mellon Bank and Allscripts. Spending years developing and executing strategies around each company’s client experience that led to high-performing teams and profitable relationships Lana took her own courageous leap.
With a passion to serve, plan and create great experiences, six years ago she launched and started running her event planning and administration business. Creating and managing projects and transformational events is what drives Lana. A native of the beautiful island of Nassau in the Bahamas, Lana loves and lives colorfully. Now calling Raleigh, NC her home for the past 20 years, she loves to volunteer in her community, hosts annual fundraising events for causes close to her heart, and spends time traveling with family and friends.
Chrystelle L. Vilfranc, Ph.D Canidate
Chrystelle is a native of Brooklyn, NY. She graduated with a Bachelor's of Science from Oakwood University. Currently, she is pursuing her doctorate in Cancer and Cell Biology. Her lab studies a highly conserved protein that is a member of the Inhibitor of Apoptosis (IAP) family. This protein has been implicated in biological processes such as apoptosis and DNA damage and repair. One of her projects include understanding its role in DNA damage repair upon liver injury and its impact on liver disease progression.
Anicca Harriot, Ph.D. Student
Social Media Coordinator & LGBTQ+ Engagement Specialist
Anicca Harriot is a social-media powerhouse. Anicca previously served as a social media coordinator at NASA Langley and is overjoyed to serve as a member of the #VanguardSTEM team! Perhaps most well-known for her viral tweet calculating the angle of her dab, Anicca is dedicated to using the power of social media to advocate for women (and non-gender conforming folks) in STEM.
Her passion for advocacy and prominent influence has led her to being selected as one of Motherboard’s 2017 Humans of the Year as well a 2017 Young Futurist for The Root. When 140 characters aren’t quite enough, Anicca enjoys writing for Westwood Westwood, We Report Space, and of course #VanguardSTEM.
Anicca is currently working on earning her Ph.D. in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology at the University of Maryland School of Medicine. Anicca plans to use her degree to explore the effects of long-duration space missions on the human body and hopes to someday venture out into the final frontier.
Léolène J. Carrington, Ph.D.
Dr. Carrington is a native of the island of Haiti who emigrated to the US in her teens. She navigated the world of STEM as a first-generation college grad to recently earn her Ph.D. from Vanderbilt University. Her thesis focused on the underlying mechanisms behind cancer cell migration, which play critical roles in invasion and metastasis.
Dr. Carrington is currently a postdoctoral research fellow at the Life Sciences Institute at the University of Michigan, and her career goal is to promote diversity and excellence in science as a tenured faculty at a research-intensive university. She has been a peer mentor throughout her graduate career and loves spending her spare time mentoring graduates in the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-Ph.D. program through which she completed her Masters in Biology. She is the founder of the Research Day Symposium for the Fisk-Vanderbilt Masters-to-Ph.D. program, which promotes the sharing of scientific work to a general and interdisciplinary audience.