March is a national celebration of women and women’s history. This year’s theme is “Women Inspiring Innovation Through Imagination: Celebrating Women in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM).” To honor this celebration, Inside USD is doing a few articles to spotlight some of the inspiring female students on campus who, in turn, can and do inspire others.
Miranda Stratton has always looked to the future. As a first-generation college student, she quickly became accustomed to paving the road to new territory. Through the ever-changing and future-oriented field of science, Stratton found her home in the Department of Biology at the University of San Diego. She is a biology major and chemistry minor, but her passions aren’t confined to the inside of a classroom or lab.
Even though she has taken part in two research internships at The Scripps Research Institute, worked with renowned doctors, researched potential HIV gene therapy, and is a McNair Scholar, Stratton says she feels like any other 20-something year-old.
“It’s important for people to know that the people involved in science have interests outside of that field,” Stratton says. “I’m interested in so many different things — the Women’s Center, feminism; I like to craft and hang out with my friends. I’m just like any other 22-year-old.”
While it’s clear that Miranda is no ordinary 22-year-old, she raises an interesting point. Those outside the scientific community often view the field as daunting or intimidating. Part of Miranda’s goal is to change that preconception and bridge the gap between science and other disciplines.
“Most people think of science as being some scary phenomenon, but it is anything from that!” she says. “I love acting as a ‘science liaison’ to the general public, and showing them the wonderful opportunities available in it. I’m motivated to keep learning more so I can continue to share more knowledge with my communities.”
Another important part of bridging the science gap is the inclusion of more minorities. Stratton explains scientific research like any traditional creative endeavor.
“You have an idea set and you want to get to a desired result and in order to get to that result you have to have imagination and innovation. [It is] similar to a musician trying out a new instrument they’ve never used before.” she says.
Similar to any groundbreaking creation, different perspectives in scientific research will generate new ideas.
“There is a need for more diversity in science because there are new ideas generated as a result.”
Miranda’s love for science began with something intensely personal — her younger sister was diagnosed with a rare blood disease called hemophagocytic lymphohistiocytosis (HLH) almost six years ago. Miranda recalls being forced to stand idly by while her sister underwent countless tests and eventually chemotherapy. She found herself enticed by the research aspect of the disease. Her sister went on to experience a full recovery and is currently healthy and thriving. In fact, she will transfer to a California state school this fall.
Stratton’s love for biology has strengthened, too. Her educational journey will continue this fall as she prepares for graduate school. To date, she has received offers from Brown University, Stanford University, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and University of Colorado at Boulder. She is currently deciding which school she will call home.
As Stratton’s final semester at USD comes to a close, she takes a momentary break from looking at her future to reflect on the past. When asked about her favorite moments as a Torero, Stratton says there are too many to count.
“There are so many moments that stand out, but I will take away the laughter and happiness that my friends have brought me over the last four years. I will never forget the people I met, including faculty, staff and students, especially those involved in amazing programs like TRiO SSS, McNair Scholars and the Women’s Center.”
— Taylor Milam ’14