Humans of the U: Faith Bowman

The path of my journey is built on culture infused with inquiry. I was born to be a beholder of pipette and pen, a caretaker of the traditional and contemporary, a forever expert and novice. As a proud Indigenous scholar from the Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Nation, I am committed to being a bridge between Indian Country and the scientific community.

I come from a family of healers where my mom, aunts and immediate family work in various parts of healthcare. I heard many stories about metabolically-linked diseases like diabetes and heart failure, due to many people in my family and my community living with them. I always thought I’d go to college and become a nurse like my mother, but I decided to divert from my family’s traditional career of healer and caretaker to help my community before metabolic dysfunction occurs by studying what makes us unique. In high school I honed into the field of genetics and regenerative medicine and I’m now pursuing a Ph.D. in biochemistry at the University of Utah. I seek to become a new healer, bridging the traditional knowledge of my community with the knowledge pioneered by investigating glucose metabolism.

I grew up in an urban Indigenous community and attended an all-Native American primary school in Milwaukee, WI. Here, science remained unconnected to our culture. No connections were made to understand the nature of our physical world; a gene was simply a gene, disconnected from the rest of our body and contradictory to our stories and traditions. In college, I began to bridge my Indigenous and budding scientist identities. I learned of instances of genetics determining and defining Native communities without collaboration from the community itself. Therefore, I am passionate about improving the relationship between and the representation of underrepresented minority (URM) communities in STEM. I want to help tear down the historical distrust and stigmatization around research that has resulted in weak STEM education in URM communities and disproportionate representation in the biological sciences. Without the unique cultural capital that we all possess as individuals, medicinal treatment and innovative therapies may remain stagnant.

—Faith Bowman, doctoral student, Biochemistry