Meet the intelligent and lovely scientific rockstar, Zorimel Vargas…
Employer: Rhode Island Hospital
Job Title: Research Assistant Scientist
Can you explain what you do in your job in 2-3 sentences?
My job as a research assistant [scientist] requires me to perform experiments to test hypotheses about tropical diseases. Our lab is specifically interested in Schistosomiasis (a parasitic worm) and how it affects pregnant women.
Why do you give back as a guest speaker in the STEAM the Streets program?
I like to volunteer for the STEAM program because it allows me to invest in the community that has shaped who I am today. Growing up and attending New Bedford Public Schools, I don’t remember ever having a speaker come talk to us about careers in STEM. I think it’s important to share how fun and rewarding STEM careers are in order to get children interested at an early age.
What is your favorite part about sharing your career and story with the students?
My favorite part about sharing my experience and career with the students is leaving after a presentation and knowing that I interested and hopefully inspired a child to get into science. That and seeing their little hands shoot up in excitement to ask us questions!
Do you remember a student question, comment, or reaction they had that totally made your day?
The kids at Carney we’re so engaging it’s hard to choose one specific instance. I received all types of insightful questions from “What kind of obstacles have I faced?” to “Who inspires me most?” I think the most touching moment for me was having a boy who was incredibly shy ask me a question about middle school. I could barely hear him so I sat next to him and gave him advice. It was something so small but I know it meant a lot to him and made me feel really happy.
What is the importance of having a role model such as yourself providing exposure for our students?
Growing up I don’t remember seeing many women in STEM fields. I think representation is incredibly important, so I hope that having someone who grew up in their neighborhood and went to their schools helps them think “well if she did that, then so can I.”
What is a side hobby you have or something you do in your spare time?
I’m a jack of many trades but a master of none. I love being outside and especially like to hike or go to the beach (when the weather allows it).ving in New England makes that tough, however, and I have taken on random hobbies like knitting or food blogging. Unfortunately, I never stick with anything long enough to get really good at it. I always get bored and then want to learn something new.
Connect with Zori on LinkedIn