Peggy R. Biga, PhD
AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow
Associate Professor, University of Alabama at Birmingham
Individual Member since 2020
“I aspire to be a public scholar, not just a scientist.”
What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned the hard way?
Not all people are the same. Of course we know this, but often neglect to shift our mentorship and management styles to be effective to all in our programs.
What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?
I started University of Alabama at Birmingham (UAB) STEMO, an outreach group (now led by UAB students!) that engages middle schoolers from local Birmingham public schools and after-school care programs in STEM activities. The goal is to enhance exposure of underrepresented groups in STEM to hands-on, creative, and meaningful activities.
What is one challenge you have overcome in your career?
Being part of a dual career family in academia. We navigated through a few higher education institutions (some successfully, some not) before landing on all of our feet–not gracefully of course.
What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why?
I aspire to expand my academic reach outside of the walls of university and higher education to be more impactful in the communities: local, state, and national. I aspire to be a public scholar, not just a scientist.
Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.
I am currently a AAAS Science & Technology Policy Fellow placed in the Office of the Chief Scientist at the US Department of Agriculture. As a AAAS STPF, I have worked on USDA science-related policy and program activities related to food, nutrition, aquaculture, STEM education, blockchain, innovations to reduce food loss and waste, and nutrition education and promotion. Additionally, as a representative of the USDA, I have worked on an executive order (that was signed!), have been part of a federal writing group on research infrastructure investments, and served on the Federal Coordination in STEM (FC-STEM) education committee. These experiences have been pivotal to my professional development and my growth as a public scholar. One highlight from my experience has been working with the FC-STEM committee to strategize best practices for enhancing participation and inclusivity across federal STEM education programs.
What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?
Be patient with yourself. Take care of yourself. A career in science is meaningless if you are not happy doing science, and it’s hard to be happy as a scientist if you are emotionally drained.
Peggy R. Biga, PhD is a broadly trained comparative nutritional physiologist who is interested in understanding what regulates the final size an organism attains. In addition, she aims to become a better public scholar, who includes the public good in the research she pursues. In so doing, she will continue to grow the UAB STEMO outreach group to enhance STEM exposure to young scholars in an attempt to expand diversity and inclusion in STEM.