Meet Dominique Carter
Dominique Carter is an advocate for being bold when it comes to your career path, and she has demonstrated that herself.
Carter is the assistant director for Agricultural Sciences, Innovation and Workforce for the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy, where she provides high-quality scientific and policy advice to decision makers.
She earned her Ph.D. in microbiology, immunology and molecular genetics at the Medical College of Wisconsin. During her Ph.D. and later in her training, she realized that improving the lives of people in America and abroad through scientific innovation would require more than benchwork, and that her zeal for science extended beyond the laboratory.
“Understanding policy at the local, state and federal level, and being able to effectively communicate science to policymakers are also essential for the development of sound science policy for maximum societal benefit,” she said.
She sought out opportunities to develop her science policy career by gaining exposure to science policy issues affecting translational and biomedical research. She participated in the American Institute of Medical and Biological Engineering’s Public Policy Institute for Rising Leaders and the American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology’s annual Capitol Hill Day.
“(AIMBE’s Hill Day) afforded me the opportunity to travel to Washington, D.C., to meet with my state’s congressional representatives and senators to discuss current policy issues impacting recent science Ph.D. recipients, like myself (at the time) and the biomedical research enterprise,” she said.
AIMBE provided her with the first example of how scientists and engineers work across all sectors (academia, public and private) to impact policy.
Her official transition into the field occurred in 2017 when she participated in the American Association for the Advancement of Science’s Science & Technology Policy Fellowship, which placed her in a yearlong full-time position at the National Science Foundation. Within the Office of International Science and Engineering within the Office of the Director, she assessed the science capabilities and available infrastructure for Europe and Africa to participate in international science collaborations.
After completing her AAAS fellowship, Carter served as an agricultural science adviser for the U.S. Department of Agriculture Office of the Chief Scientist, where she supported agricultural research and policy development.
Carter talked to ASBMB Today about her work and advice for others interested in careers in policy. The interview has been edited for length, clarity and style.
Tell us about your current role.
What is most unique about this role is having the ability to shape the future of agricultural innovation, food security and smart food systems across the federal interagency and beyond. This job affords me the opportunity to meet with critical stakeholders of the broader agricultural science community to better understand current challenges and opportunities facing the agricultural ecosystem.
How can we motivate young women interested in science?
I work diligently under the personal motto of, “Be bold, and never minimize yourself for the convenience of others.” Recently, CellMentor named me among 1000 Inspiring Black Scientists in America, and I plan to continue to empower women interested in careers in science and entrepreneurship.
My advice to girls and young women interested in science is to advocate for yourself and always seek opportunities to learn more and develop your skills. As one will discover over the course of their career, relationships are currency. It’s important to identify and cultivate professional and peer mentor relationships. Many opportunities are discovered through networking.
Work in the community and beyond
Dominique Carter is passionate about STEM entrepreneurship and the recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minorities in STEM fields, so she is also very active with community work.
She has worked with Fed Tech, a private venture program that connects entrepreneurs to technologies developed across federal agencies and pairs applicants with lab partners/inventors to serve as founders. Teams work closely with teaching and mentor teams and are taken through modules on lean startup, business models, product development, customer discovery, intellectual property and licensing, funding strategies for spinning out R&D, pitch skills and more.
She was also a global innovation fellow at the U.S. Department of State, where she was selected for the inaugural U.S.–China Youth Forum on Entrepreneurship, Innovation and Economic Opportunities in Shenzhen, China. The forum showcased 50 global leaders who participated in networking opportunities with Chinese entrepreneurs, investors and business leaders from around the world.
She is the professional development chair for the D.C. chapter of the National Society for Black Engineers, a member of the Harvard Business Review Advisory Council, an advisory board member for the nonprofit SIA-Africa, which develops sustainable global alliances in science and education in the continent, and a former American Society for Microbiology young ambassador.
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