For today’s Student/Scholar Spotlight, we congratulate Sophia Weerth on her achievements. Sophia graduated last semester with a PhD in Microbiology from the Franklin College of Arts and Sciences. Her research focuses on how bacteria produce the molecule heme.
Outside of her research she organized many events including a sexual harassment workshop with UGA Women in Sciences Group (@UGA_wisci) in 2016, graduate student recruitment for the microbiology department in 2017, a science policy career panel with UGA Science Policy Engagement and Research (@spear.uga) in 2020, and several other career and community events. In 2019 she was involved in a grass roots student advisory committee in her department where she designed and implemented a graduate student satisfaction survey that probed students' satisfaction with their mentorship, curriculum, career development, communication, overall mental health, and satisfaction with the department as a whole. The committee used the survey data to advocate for changes in her department, which has since lead to significant changes in communication, assessment during yearly committee meetings, and curriculum. During this initiative she also managed the @UGAMicroGrad social media accounts until summer 2020 to facilitate communication with peer departments and alumni. In response to the civil unrest this summer she took action and co-founded the Advocates for Anti-Racism in Life Sciences (@AARLS_UGA) student group. As part of the group she designed and launched the AARLS Diversity Climate Survey, which is currently circulating through the UGA life sciences departments. She and the rest of the group hope that the survey will highlight successful practices that promote diversity and inclusion and identify hurdles that prevent admission and/or retention of students of color in UGA life sciences.
When asked about her experience at UGA, Sophia stated, “During my work I have gained extensive leadership skills and have mentored and empowered a number of outstanding peers. My work has had significant impact on policy within my department and has empowered me to follow a career in science policy after my graduation. I am currently applying to the National Academy of Sciences Mirzayan fellowship.”
Pictures provided by Sophia Weerth.