Dr. Hadiyah-Nicole Green is one of fewer than 100 black female physicists in the country, and the recent winner of $1.1 million grant to further develop a technology she’s pioneered that uses laser-activated nanoparticles to treat cancer.
Green, who lost her parents young, was raised by her aunt and uncle. While still at school, her aunt died from cancer, and three months later her uncle was diagnosed with cancer, too. Green went on to earn her degree in physics at Alabama A&M University, being crowned Homecoming Queen while she was at it, before going on full scholarship to University of Alabama in Birmingham to earn her Masters and Ph.D. There Green would become the first to work out how to deliver nanoparticles into cancer cells exclusively, so that a laser could be used to remove them, and then successfully carry out her treatment on living animals.
As she takes on her growing responsibilities, Green still makes time to speak at schools, Boys & Girls Clubs and other youth events. “Young black girls don’t see those role models (scientists) as often as they see Beyonce or Nicki Minaj,” says Green. “It’s important to know that our brains are capable of more.”