Contributions to STEMM
Dr Phillips is Chair of the Biochemistry Department, where she divides her time between administrative duties, research studies, and mentorship responsibilities. “My job has multiple components,” Dr. Phillips said. “As Chair of the Department I ensure that my Department faculty contribute to the main missions of the institution with respect to teaching and research. An important component of my job is recruiting, especially at the level of faculty.”
As a scientist, Dr. Phillips centers the “major focus of my research program on parasites that cause malaria and African sleeping sickness. My group and I study metabolic enzymes from these parasites to identify essential processes that we can target for drug discovery.”
Dr. Phillips credits her father, a physician and scientist, for encouraging her to pursue science. His support motivated her to mentor students throughout her own career. “I am deeply involved in teaching and mentoring junior scientists,” she said. “I also work to ensure that our department provides a welcoming and supportive home to our diverse group of students, postdocs, faculty, and staff.”
Next Generation of Women
Looking to the next generation of women in medicine, Dr. Phillips believes that early education is the key to growing the number of women in STEMM.
“The most important preparation is to have a strong education.”
She advises young girls to begin taking classes in science and math during early schooling, as this exposure opens the door to pursuing scientific career paths as adults. “Going to college to obtain a degree is essential to preparing for a good career in every subject. Finally, obtaining a Ph.D. or M.D. is very important to being able to work at the highest levels as a scientist.”
She sees the Celebrating Breakthroughs Together project as a source of inspiration for young girls and women.
“I hope that being a part of this project will inspire young women to reach their full potential, and to go into careers in science, math, and engineering.”
The UT Southwestern Difference
Dr. Phillips enjoys the collegiality with her fellow scientists. “I really like working on team projects where many scientists combine their expertise to work on a common problem. My group was involved in discovering a compound to treat malaria that reached clinical development, and this was a very fun and rewarding experience.” Seeing the findings of her research applied clinically is a full circle moment for Dr. Phillips.
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"I most enjoy being able to make scientific discoveries that have the potential to translate to help patients.”