Women in STEM: Teressa

Teressa among her plants

My 38th guest is Teressa Alexander, a passionate graduate student in Plant Science from Trinidad.

Hi @Teressamelca! First of all would you like to tell us something about you?

My name is Teressa Alexander and I’m a Trinidadian graduate student pursuing a PhD in Plant Science at the University of the West Indies, Trinidad. I actually started out in physical science and applied my knowledge in physics to biological research projects as an undergraduate at Morgan State University.

When did you start your Instagram account? How did you get the idea?

I started an IG page my last year as an undergrad in 2014. I’ve only recently been more intentional with communicating my work and passion for plant science on IG.

Can you tell us something about how you balance work and private life? 

I love the outdoors! I love hiking! Being in the natural environment is very relaxing for me so I try to do this often while working.

Teressa enjoying her free time

During your academic studies how many women were in course? Why in your opinion?

There was less than a handful of women in my department as an undergrad. I was a physics student and it was quite common to be the only woman or one of few in my physics and engineering courses. I think historically women were purposefully left out sciences or even seen as not beneficial to the field. I think biological sciences became an acceptable area for women later on but the physical sciences were a more restricted area.

Have you ever felt harassed or being kept apart as a scholar because you are a woman?

I’ve had an instance where a male principal investigator I’ve worked with told me that I would never be great in graduate school.

How did you become passionate about science? 

As a child I was obsessed with extraterrestrial exploration and excelled more in Math & Science. I knew from then I had to pursue the sciences.

Would you like to talk briefly about your job?

My project addresses our concerns for the effects of climate change on an important economic crop, cacao. I compare physiological measurements seasonally and amongst different types of cacao under drought stress condition because climate change can exacerbate drought in the southern Caribbean where Trinidad is located.

Thank you so much for your time. Lastly, can you give any advice to girls interested in STEM?

Strive for excellence and stay focused on your goals even if they fall within male-dominated spaces.

Follow Teressa on LinkedIn!

Teressa, a passionate plant biologist

Published by Martina Bodner

Biotechnologist, PhD Candidate in Food Chemistry, Science Teacher, STEM and autism advocate, mother.

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