Danielle Twum, a cancer immunologist from Ghana, West Africa, has been honored in the United States with a life-size statue for her research contributions.
Twum was one of over a hundred women honored by the Smithsonian during Women’s History Month. The Smithsonian’s “#IfThenSheCan — The Exhibit,” features 120 orange life-size 3D statues of women who have excelled in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM).
According to the museum, this is the largest collection of women statues ever assembled.
Twum traveled to the United States in 2007 and investigated the effects of climate change on coral bleaching at Vassar College, where she earned a B.A. in Biology. She then investigated the immunology of breast cancer metastasis for her Ph.D. in Cancer Immunology at the University of Buffalo.
Twum switched to cancer research after her uncle died of brain cancer in his mid-30s. She applied for a summer program “because of Uncle Kofi” and was accepted into their doctoral program.
Twum earned the distinguished Emerging Scholars Award from the National Cancer Institute and later gave a TED talk at TEDxBuffalo, titled ‘Guardians of Your Inner Galaxy’ which can still be viewed on YouTube.
Twum credits her senior high school chemistry teacher, Mrs. Opare, for making her achievements possible.
Twum is now an If/Then ambassador for the American Association for the Advancement of Science, where she is working to raise the awareness of women in STEM as role models for young girls. She expressed her desire to normalize the image of a Black scientist “with an undercut and quirky lipstick and a fantastic fashion sense” on social media.
“I want young Black girls to realize that becoming a scientist does not mean they have to fit into a mold; it means they get to create their own.”
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