More on my background in academic science
Public Science Education
In a warming world, where the 20th century’s vaccine victories are today’s emerging diseases, science enthusiasts are understandably frustrated! Worse yet, well-meaning, busy people who rely on the media for information are understandably confused. We need a toolkit to gently and compellingly present evidence without alienation.
Ignite Baltimore · Sept 29 2015
Writing, speaking, and outreach surrounding the unjust arrest and prosecution of over 200 'J20' protesters
"Prosecutors have the power to single-handedly destroy lives, and there are few consequences for abuse of that power. At the same time, their main measure of success is the ability to secure convictions, not the degree to which justice is served."
Op-Ed by Elizabeth Lagesse
New York Times · Nov 15 2017 (or PDF)
Organization of American States · Dec 7 2017
Video interview in which we break down how the DOJ is criminalizing dissent in the J20 cases
Salon · Jan 26 2018
Video interview with Elle Reeve, discussing the 1st Amendment implications of the J20 prosecutions
VICE News · Jan 18 2018
Video interview focusing on the human cost of excessive, politically-motivated prosecutions
AJ+ · Dec 21 2017
Video interview with Baynard Woods, discussing the courts decision to impose a gag order, and the order's implications for police accountability
The Real News Network · Oct 11 2017
Video interview explaining the civil liberties implications of the J20 cases, as well as their human cost
Mic · Oct 11 2017
Video interview with host Femi Oke discussing the implications of the J20 arrests and prosecutions on the right to protest
Al Jazeera English · Nov 22 2017
Audio interview with Baynard Woods, discussing court room developments and the prosecution's legal strategies
Democracy in Crisis · Nov 20 2017
Video interview discussing the injustice of the J20 arrests and prosecutions
Democracy Now! · Nov 28 2017
Rolling Stone · Jan 20 2018
USA Today · Jan 18 2018
Washingtonian · Dec 21 2017
Huff Post · Dec 10 2017
Orlando Weekly · Jan 19 2018
At first glance, my personal history doesn’t seem conducive to work as a skeptic, scientist, and advocate for social justice. Much of my research has been rooted in the intricacies of evolutionary theory, yet as a child I was taught that modern biology is an elaborate hoax. The origins and scope of our universe have captivated me for as long as I can remember - in spite of science classes that contradicted much of modern cosmology, geology, and biology. Even the moral framework that motivates my advocacy is not the one in which I was raised.
These experiences have contributed to my determination to use my technical and scientific skills in support of causes that matter. I have spent much of my adult life as a community activist promoting skepticism, diversity in STEM, and public science literacy. Moving forward, my overall goal is to make the greatest possible impact as an evidence-based advocate for a better world.
BECOMING A SCIENTIST
My introduction to scientific research involved using bioinformatics to study the evolution of a protein family. This experience was an incredibly valuable introduction to the process of answering scientific questions, and an opportunity to learn the programming skills that have made the rest of my work possible.
Because evolution is an unguided search - which tends to find ‘good enough’ solutions rather than optimal ones - evolutionary insight can often lead to functional insight. In the case of the protein family I studied, there is an alternative form of the protein without the ‘on switch’ - creating a safeguard against developmental abnormalities and cancer.
To further develop my skills in bench chemistry and experimental design, I joined a protein bioengineering lab. My goal was to uncover the structure of a viral protein, which also had chemical properties that show promise for engineering drug delivery nanoparticles.
My recent research has involved one of today's most difficult computational problems: protein structure prediction. Many devastating diseases, including Parkinson’s and Alzheimer’s, are related to defects in protein structure. Bacterial resistance to antibiotics can also be caused by a critical change in protein structure.
In addition to the human costs of these issues, the problems themselves are innately irresistible - with solutions that require a combination of chemical intuition, clever computation, and an understanding of the protein’s evolutionary past. With an international team of scientists and engineers, I helped build and use a suite of software to predict protein structure and design synthetic molecules.
Beyond the satisfaction of working on fascinating and important problems, my scientific experiences left me with a broad base of technical and intellectual skills for tackling hard problems in any context.