meet the founders
Dr. Lataisia Jones began her journey in science as an intern at the College of William and Mary where she studied “Cell Cycle Exit Mutation in Caenorhabditis elegans”. She later received her B.S. (2010) and M.S. (2012) at the Virginia State University. Her Master’s Degree research focused on the Genetic Variants of Diabetes. During this time she taught undergrad biology and participated in several outreach opportunities to include teaching young students in Ghana.
On Saturday, August 5th, 2017, Dr. Jones graduated from Florida State University as the first African American Ph.D. from the Department of Biomedical Sciences, in the College of Medicine. Her dissertation was entitled, “Elucidation of the Molecular Etiology of Levodopa Responsive Dystonia”. Her research focused on a mutation linked to the inefficient production of a dopamine biosynthesis enzyme which causes a movement disorder that mainly affects kids. Dr. Jones revealed an underlying cause of the disease manifestation and further developed an antibody capable of improving diagnosis. Her continued mission to further the understanding of neurological disorders that affect children led her to a position at the Children’s National Hospital in Washington, D.C. where she conducted research on the Autism Spectrum Disorders and the impact of certain proteins on brain development. Dr. Jones currently serves as a Scientific Review Officer in the National Institute of Neurological Disorders and Stroke at NIH.
Dr. Jones visits local schools and after school programs to teach youth about science, science careers, and attending college. She previously served as a volunteer at the Ronald McDonald House where she initiated a programed called, Young Scientist Wednesdays which allowed her to teach kids residing at Children’s National Hospital. Dr. Jones is an AAAS IF/THEN Ambassador, and starred on a CBS show called Mission Unstoppable, WUSA9 Great Day Washington, and WTOP Radio Station. Recently, a statue honoring Dr. Jones as a female STEM leader was exhibited at the Smithsonian in Washington, DC during Women's History Month. Dr. Jones believes that if young girls (especially girls of color) see her working in a lab or read about her achievements, they will believe in their ability to be anything they dream of becoming and more.
“I have been given this mountain to show others it can be moved” – author unknown
Dr. Adrienne P. Stephenson is a native of Washington, DC. She started her STEM journey at Lincoln University in Pennsylvania where she earned a BA in Chemistry and later received a MS and PhD in Neuropharmacology and Toxicology from Florida A&M University. She is proud to be a three time HBCU graduate.
Dr. Stephenson currently serves as Assistant Dean in The Graduate School and Director of the Office of Graduate Fellowships and Awards at Florida State University. In this role, she provides ongoing professional development and early career preparedness for graduate students through fellowship advising, mentoring, and ongoing professional development. Dr. Stephenson also serves as the McKnight Doctoral Fellowship Program Liaison and previously served as the FAMU Feeder Program Liaison. She plays a critical role in advocating for the overall success of all students with a particular interest in graduate education for those from historically underrepresented groups. She is passionate about mentoring, coaching, and challenging the next generation of leaders.
In Spring 2020, Dr. Stephenson named one of 25 Women You Should Know in Tallahassee. Her record of achievement providing mentoring support to students was also recognized with the Partner with a Purpose Award from the Division of Student Affairs (FSU) in 2019 and the Excellence in Teaching and Undergraduate Advising Award (FSU) in 2018. In 2016 and 2018, she was awarded the William R. Jones Mentor Award and Dr. Tribble Award by the Florida Education Fund for her service to and mentorship of Black and LatinX doctoral students.
Prior to her current appointment, Dr. Stephenson served as STEM Center Director at Tallahassee Community College (TCC) where she managed the NSF FAMU-TCC Bridges to the Baccalaureate in the Biomedical Sciences, Florida Georgia Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation (FGLSAMP) and NSF STEM Star Scholars Programs. She also served as a Science Specialist/STEM Coordinator at the Florida Department of Education for several years in the Bureau of Curriculum and Instruction and the Bureau of School Improvement.
Adrienne is a proud member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority Incorporated, P.E.O. Chapter GR, and Ahmed Court No. 134. She serves on the board of the Tallahassee Scientific Society (Tallahassee, FL) and the Young Carver STEM Academy (Philadelphia, PA).