Chemistry affects us all, whether we study it or not—and that’s what DeVonna Gatlin wants everyone to know. She has made it her goal to spread the knowledge of chemistry—the ‘chemistry of life’—to all people, especially minority groups who may not be exposed to the field.
“One cannot dream to aspire to something one does not know exists,” she says. “I have learned how impactful diversity in STEM can be, and I want to spread it worldwide. Chemistry is global. The greater number of minds that can work on solving unanswered questions, the better our scope of answers will be.”
Gatlin became curious about these questions while attending King/Drew Medical Magnet High School of Medicine and Science in Compton, California. She worked in a hospital for a few class periods a week, heightening her curiosity of science and math. But the experience was crucial for other reasons, too—she discovered that becoming a medical doctor just wasn’t for her. This realization allowed Gatlin to focus on her true passion for chemistry. “I had such a passion for it and I liked my teachers so much that I took the course twice!” she says. “When it was time for me to decide on a major in college, I knew exactly what discipline I would study.”
After earning two degrees in California, Gatlin was advised to go out of state for her PhD to encounter new experiences in a different environment. She thought back to her first time visiting Cincinnati in 2008 for the Proctor & Gamble Undergraduate Colloquium. Intrigued by the research happening in UC’s Chemistry PhD program, she decided to make the cross-country move.