Diversity/Inclusion Front and Center in Cell Metabolism, thanks to Drs. Villanueva and Simcox

Photo Credit: Cell Metabolism (issue cover) and University of Utah (Dr. Villanueva). Photo of Dr. Simcox at 2017 LPSLI.

SACNAS members Dr. Claudio Villanueva and Dr. Judith Simcox (Filipina and Crow) are featured in Volume 26, Issue 3 of the scientific journal Cell Metabolism. Dr. Villanueva is an Assistant Professor in the Department of Biochemistry and the advisor for the University of Utah SACNAS Chapter. Dr. Simcox is a University of Utah chapter member and an alumna of the 2017 Linton-Poodry SACNAS Leadership Institute (LPSLI).

In the new issue of Cell Metabolism, Dr. Simcox is one of the lead authors of the article exploring how mammals adapt to the cold (pp. 509–522). “For me, this project represents the strength and importance of community in science,” Dr. Simcox says of her participation in the research. “This story was built from the advice of the University of Utah metabolism interest group, driven by a great mentor, and came to life in the laboratories of collaborators who welcomed me to their universities.”

“As I move forward in my career as a scientist, there are days when I feel totally intimidated but find courage in the knowledge that I don’t have to do this alone; I have the support of the many colleagues I have met on this journey. I was selected to present this work at the 2017 SACNAS conference in October, and it is such an honor to share our story with the group that first showed me the power of a research community.”

Dr. Villanueva designed the issue’s cover in collaboration with California artist Paulo Temblador of a Woman of Color superhero powered by acylcarnitines (AC). Both Dr. Villanueva and Dr. Simcox are featured in the Voices section “Women in Metabolism: The Next Generation” and its sub-section “Inclusive Science Empowers the Superhero within Us All” inspired by the issue’s cover art.

The magic happened when Dr. Villanueva approached Temblador about designing a cover, telling the artist his idea of a superhero in the cold with the letters “AC.” At first, the sketch Temblador sent back was of a man, but it struck Dr. Villanueva that the image should instead be of a woman.

“I chose to depict a woman who’s a minority scientist revealing her superpower,” says Dr. Villanueva. “I’m an advocate for diversity and the faculty advisor for the University of Utah SACNAS chapter, an organization that mentors Chicano/Hispanic and Native American students who have an interest in STEM. Therefore, I wanted to include an image of a woman who is a minority in a power position, which we don’t see very often in the media. My hope is that this image will resonate with the female minority scientists and students whom I often mentor in my lab and through SACNAS.”

He goes on to say:

“The journal sent me the cover, and I placed it in a frame. It’s now sitting in my daughter’s bedroom. I told my daughter that she’s my superhero, and that the woman on the cover is her future. Promoting gender equity shouldn’t only fall on the shoulders of women. Men have to help in correcting this inequality.” 

Access the article without a subscription here.

View Cell Metabolism Volume 26, Issue 3.

Learn more about the research on healthcare.utah.edu.



Watch Dr. Villanueva’s March for Science speech.

Learn more about Dr. Simcox in “Drawing Strength from Diversity.”

Learn about Dr. Simcox’s experience at 2017 LPSLI.



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