Elle Lett, PhD, MA, LDI Associate Fellow and MD candidate at the University of Pennsylvania’s Perelman School of Medicine, has been named a winner of the CellPress and Cell Signaling Technology’s Rising Black Scientist Award.

Elle Lett, PhD, MA – Photo by Hannah Yoon

Jointly created in 2019 by the scientific journal publisher and scientific services company, the award is designed to spotlight emerging Black scientists, break down barriers, and provide funding support for professional development, according to CellPress’ Academic Advisory Board. Recipients receive $10,000.

This year’s awards were based on contestants’ essays about their experience as Black scientists, their commitment to health equity advocacy, and their community engagement. Two awards are given each year — one for an undergraduate and the other for a postdoctoral scholar. Lett’s winning postdoctoral essay, “Science as a Tool for Justice,” was published in the January issue of Cell.

“Winning this award is of personal and political importance,” said Lett. “Personally, it acknowledges the effort I have put into developing into a thought leader and innovative scientist capable of moving my field forward. Politically, it’s a statement of the importance of the type of science that I do — work that highlights the experiences and power of oppressed populations while developing strategies to mitigate the harms of systemic discrimination.”

A Black transgender woman, Lett holds a Bachelor’s degree in Molecular and Cellular Biology from Harvard College, Master’s degrees in Biostatistics and Statistics from Duke University and the Wharton School, respectively, and a PhD in Epidemiology from the University of Pennsylvania. The statistician-epidemiologist is also a postdoctoral fellow in statistical epidemiology at the Penn Medicine Palliative and Advanced Illness and Research (PAIR) Center.

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