Dr. Teresa Ramírez is a first-generation scholar who comes from Compton, California. Her parents migrated to California from Zacatecas, Mexico. Coming from a low-income neighborhood, where the city is filled with violence, gangs and drugs, Dr. Ramírez continues to be proud and grateful of the community she grew up in. Her greatest support has been her parents and her goal as a young girl was to give them a better life. Her interest in science began when she was eleven years old. She participated in a science fair, where her experiment’s title was “Do seeds contain oil?”. At such a young age, Dr. Ramírez had an intrinsic motivation to pursue her love for science. This spark continues to shine in her and she uses it to inspire as many scientists as possible.
Dr. Ramírez attended Cal State Dominguez Hills for her undergraduate degree. She was part of an organization called Society for the Advanced Chicanos and Native Americans in Science (SACNAS). Dr. Ramírez continues to play an impactful role in this organization by fostering a supportive, welcoming environment to all students, professors and administrators. She never thought that she would leave the beautiful, sunny state of California, but she is content with the experience she gained as a post baccalaureate at National Institutes of Health (NIH) in Maryland. After this segment in her life, she decided she wanted to apply to graduate schools. Staying in California was a priority in order to stay close to her parents. However, when she interviewed at Brown University, she knew that Providence was going to be her new home. Her Ph.D. thesis was on the effects of alcohol in the liver. Her research was partially motivated by her grandpa who passed from a brain tumor and unfortunately was also as an alcoholic. Not only was Dr. Ramirez devoted to her scientific investigations, but she also created a SACNAS chapter at Brown University. She brought an inclusive support group that welcomed scientists that came from underrepresented backgrounds. She has been part of SACNAS for 18 years and continues to be an inspiration to all. Furthermore, while she was at Brown, she became part of the Mariachi band. Los Tigres del Norte was the music she grew up with and when she played their music, she felt like she was back home in Compton. After she received her Ph.D., she went to NIH for her post-doc where she continued to do alcohol research for 2.5 years. She had such a strong love for scientific research but she had a keen desire to do more. When her post-doc ended, she went on to complete a fellowship at American Society of Human Genetics in the National Human Genome Research for 1.5 years. Dr. Ramírez is the Diversity & Inclusion Policy and Outreach Specialist at the Federation of American Societies for Experimental Biology (FASEB) and is honored for this opportunity.
Dr. Ramírez says she has encountered several obstacles but with her perseverance, resilience, and optimism she turned them into gold. She sees those struggles as something that makes one unique, humble and prepares us to be better people. Two of the biggest obstacles in her life, first was when she was in middle school and a kid took a gun. The gun fell and the bullet passed right by her and at that moment she realized one must always stay happy to be alive. Another obstacle was when a professor told her to take her masters and not continue pursuing her doctorate. However, it didn’t stop her because “Como gran mexicana” she is a proud, determined Mexican-American woman.