Laura Benjamin

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Hi Rachel,

My mom, Laura Benjamin, has a PhD in the molecular biology of cancer. Soon after getting tenured as a Professor of Pathology at Harvard Medical School, she left academia to become the Vice President of ImClone, a subsidiary of Eli Lilly that researches cancer biology and angiogenesis and manufactures pharmaceuticals.

Mom is the only daughter and oldest child of four. She got her start conducting science experiments in her parent’s kitchen in her hometown of Savannah, Ga. Her brothers recall finding a soon-to-be dissected baby shark in the microwave one day. She went on to study science in high school, choosing to complete an extra term paper on the structure of DNA instead of a senior internship with the rest of her graduating class. She completed her bachelor’s degree at Barnard College in NYC and graduated in 1987, the year I was born. After a short stint at Princeton, where the environment was hostile to women, she transferred to complete her doctorate at the University of Pennsylvania and graduated in 1995.

Mom frequently smuggled mice out of her lab as pets for me and my little brother. One time she brought a family of interracial mice to my kindergarten class to teach us about genetics. In general, Mom inspired me to be a critical thinker and pursue my hobbies. I am now pursuing a PhD in philosophy, and I feel lucky to have someone to talk to about being a woman in a male dominated field. I also probably benefit from her (seldom solicited) advice about how to live a happy life. Now the proud grandmother of my 5 year old Siamese cat Tucker, my mom is my role model, my friend, and an inspirational figure to young women pursuing careers in STEM fields.

Sincerely yours,
Elle Benjamin

PS: At the top is a picture of us on my first day of college, in 2006

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