Member Spotlight

Dr. Njwen Anyangwe

Adjunct Professor at Howard University
Toxicologist at the U.S. Food and Drug Administration
AWIS Member since 2012

 
“Don’t ever quit! When you fail, analyze the problem, take responsibility, make corrections, and remember that each failure is a learning experience that will bring you closer to success.”

Headshot of Dr. Anyangwe, an African woman who is smiling and wearing a royal blue blazer.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement?

Earning my PhD degree! My PhD degree served as a springboard for me to secure a job as a regulatory toxicologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, and as an adjunct professor at Howard University. Without it, I do not think these careers would have been possible.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

I was awarded a Bio-Institute minority fellowship in 2007 during my postdoc. I attended workshops and seminars at Harvard University, Genzyme, and the Whitehead Institute, where I was exposed to a wide variety of non-academic career paths for PhD scientists. My awareness of these diverse science career paths for PhD scientists, generated through this amazing opportunity, guided my career decision-making process.

What challenge have you encountered throughout your career and how did you address it?

Being an African immigrant woman scientist in the U.S., I have faced a few challenges: exclusion, misattribution of my ideas, and lack of recognition for my contributions. I am assertive and I address these challenges by having an honest conversation with the parties involved.

How has being part of AWIS impacted your career journey?

I have benefitted from the many resources for professional development that AWIS offers. In addition, AWIS has a huge network of powerful women scientists who serve as role models and excellent resources for professional growth.

What is your favorite word?

Education

How do you define your favorite word?

Education is the life-long acquisition of knowledge, skills, ethical values, moral values, and hobbies, and applying them for self-improvement, societal benefit, and economic gains. In my opinion, the ultimate goal of education is to become a better citizen. Education also means imparting the knowledge, skills, and values you’ve gained to others.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

I am currently reading two books: the first is When Hope Enters, a book filled with stories of love, redemption, and hope from all across the world. The second is The Code Breaker: Jennifer Doudna, Gene Editing, and the Future of the Human Race.

What is the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

The most important leadership lesson I have learned is the importance of including diverse opinions in the decision-making process. Harnessing the power of diverse perspectives is profitable to the organization and it goes a long way in building harmony and trust within the team.

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

Don’t ever quit! When you fail, analyze the problem, take responsibility, make corrections, and remember that each failure is a learning experience that will bring you closer to success.

Dr. Njwen Anyangwe is an adjunct professor at Howard University in Washington, DC, where she teaches nutritional biochemistry courses to graduate students in the Department of Nutritional Sciences. She is also a regulatory toxicologist with the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA). Dr. Anyangwe is a multidisciplinary scientist with education, training, and experience in biochemistry, cancer biology, molecular biology, nutrition, and regulatory toxicology. Her personal interests include cancer prevention, health promotion, mentoring young girls, career development of young scientists, and women’s and girls’ empowerment.

This interview was originally published in AWIS Magazine.

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