Dr. Anika Bissahoyo obtained a Bachelor’s in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Maryland Baltimore County before joining the CiT for her doctoral work. At UNC, she worked with Dr. David Threadgill studying genetic modifiers of sporadic colorectal cancer in animal models. Since graduating, Anika has held leadership positions at various universities, fostering opportunities for research and development, collaborative partnerships and student engagement in research.
What is your story? How did you get interested in toxicology?
I was always interested in science since elementary school and wanted to become a medical doctor. During my internship experiences while in college, I found it exciting to not only engage in scientific research, but to also develop strategic programs to increase the number of underrepresented minorities in research. I wanted to go to grad school, but wasn’t sure where to focus my training and research. I met with the Dr. Freeman Hrabowski, President of my University (the University of Maryland Baltimore County), who encouraged me to consider toxicology. I was drawn to toxicology because of its interdisciplinary and applied nature and after talking about all that the CiT offered with Dr. David Holbrook, I knew this was the program for me.
With an interest in increasing diversity in research, I pursued a position at Brown University with the Leadership Alliance in Providence, Rhode Island. The Alliance is a consortium of schools providing mentored summer research experiences and professional development for students underrepresented in research careers.
From there, I went on to work at Bradley University in Peoria, IL in technology commercialization and leading their research and sponsored programs as well as faculty development offices. In addition, I helped coordinate STEM research programs for undergraduate and high school students.
What do you do now?
Currently, I serve as the Director of the Office for Research and Sponsored Programs and Interim Director of the Office for Title III Administration at Bowie State University, a Historically Black College and University (HBCU) in the state of Maryland. As part of my job, I oversee the University’s efforts for building the University’s capacity for research including increasing external partnerships and cross-disciplinary collaboration. I also coordinate the Annual Grants Expo and Research Day and internal grant programs for faculty, staff and student research and scholarship at Bowie State University and serve as an adjunct faculty member in the Department of Natural Sciences.
What was the most valuable skill/lesson you gained from your time at UNC?
At UNC, my most valuable skills learned were writing research grant proposals and publications. I also appreciated the broad coursework, learning critical time management skills and gaining teaching experience.
Any advice to current students/postdocs?
Take ownership of your future and do not wait for opportunities to come your way. Be intentional about what you do because everything that you do and learn now can be applied to future opportunities.
What do you enjoy doing in your free time?
I enjoy spending time with my kids, my husband and my parents, and traveling too.