News Release

Winners of 3rd annual Rising Black Scientists Awards announced, share aspirations for their science

$10,000 awards expanded to more scientific disciplines and publication in multiple Cell Press journals

Grant and Award Announcement

Cell Press

Winners are Camryn Carter (top-left), Christine Wilkinson (top-right), Admirabilis Kalolella (bottom-left), and Elijah Malik Persad-Paisley (bottom-right)

image: Winners are Camryn Carter (top-left), Christine Wilkinson (top-right), Admirabilis Kalolella (bottom-left), and Elijah Malik Persad-Paisley (bottom-right) view more 

Credit: Cell Press

Cell Press, Cell Signaling Technology (CST), and the Elsevier Foundation are proud to announce the winners of the third annual Rising Black Scientists Awards: Camryn Carter of the University of Richmond; Admirabilis Kalolella of Connecticut College; Elijah Persad-Paisley of Brown University; and Christine Wilkinson, PhD, of University of California, Berkeley.

The winners were selected from an outstanding pool of over 300 applicants from across the life, physical, earth, environmental, health, and data sciences. Essays from the winners and honorees publish in the journals Cell and iScience on February 16, 2023. The winning essays are:

“Cell Press is proud to continue to support brilliant and inspiring Black scientists through these awards,” says Anne Kitson, Managing Director, Cell Press and the Lancet. “By expanding eligibility to all fields, we can now recognize a more inclusive community of scholars and advocates who are working every day to drive innovation and positive change.”

The awards were originally created in 2020 to break down barriers and create opportunities by providing visibility and funds to support talented Black scientists in the life or medical sciences on their career journey. By joining the awards partnership in 2022, the Elsevier Foundation now enables the selection of two additional winners each year, expanding the scope of the awards to include the physical, earth and environmental, and data sciences. In addition to publication of their essays in a Cell Press journal, winners also receive $10,000 to support their research and a $500 travel grant; honorable mentions each receive $500.

“Giving much needed visibility to Black scientists is an integral part of the Elsevier Foundation's mission to encourage a more inclusive research ecosystem,” says Ylann Schemm, Executive Director, the Elsevier Foundation. “We are proud to celebrate their excellence and ambition during these critical phases in their journeys as scientists.”

The scientist behind the weary smile

The undergraduate winner in the physical, earth and environmental, or data sciences is Camryn Carter, a double major in computer science and chemistry at the University of Richmond whose research focuses on designing drugs to combat COVID-19. In her essay, “One less weary smile,” she describes “the isolating feeling of being the only person of color in a classroom” and how her experience in her mentor Professor Carol A. Parish’s diverse computational chemistry lab has given her a place to belong.

In her essay, she writes, “Research has given me the confidence to say that I am a proud Black scientist, and I want help others cast aside their weary smiles and confidently say it too.”

Scientific understanding in a global context

Admirabilis Kalolella, a senior pursuing biochemistry, cellular, and molecular biology at Connecticut College, is the Rising Black Scientists Awards undergraduate winner in the life or health sciences. In his essay, “My Christmas holidays,” he describes the holiday trips his family would take each year to their home village in Mngeta, Tanzania—and how they inspired him to pursue drug discovery research around the world, with the goal of focusing on understudied infectious tropical diseases.

“I dedicate this award to every Black person and anyone who had been marginalized in the world that is working hard to be the best version of themselves against all odds,” he says. “Keep doing your thing and stay true to yourself.”

A physician-scientist driving inclusion in medicine

A medical student, aspiring plastic surgery physician, and the founder of the Black Men in White Coats chapter at Brown University, Elijah Persad-Paisley (@elijahpp_) is the winner of the graduate award in the life or health sciences for his essay, “Achieving diversity and equity through inclusion.” In his essay, he shares his experiences with adoption, rejection, and the “diminishing representation of Black men in medicine” and his commitment to disparities research as well as community engagement to increase inclusion in medicine.

When asked what winning the award means to him, Persad-Paisley says, “This award validates and affirms the importance of my diversity-related research. Furthermore, it legitimizes me as the physician-scientist that I aspire to be… it reminds us that we are also deservingly recognized as researchers alongside our scientist-trained colleagues."

Reflections of intersectionality in the wild

Conservation biologist and carnivore ecologist Christine Wilkinson (@ScrapNaturalist), PhD, of the University of California, Berkeley is the Rising Black Scientists Awards post-graduate winner in the physical, earth and environmental, or data sciences. Her essay, “The coyote in the mirror: Embracing intersectionality to improve human-wildlife interactions,” explores her intersectionality as “a Black, biracial, queer, and gender-queer kaleidoscopic being” as a way to relate to all kinds of stakeholders and to build connections and linkages between wildlife, human, and environmental health and wellbeing.

“Across my research career, I have studied the adaptations, behaviors, and ecology of animals that are widely misunderstood and often vilified,” she writes. “Like me, all of these species fail to fit into many of western science’s rigid boxes and are thus misunderstood, yet have developed adaptations, strategies, and resilience to navigate their worlds. We are cut of the same cloth.”

Honorable mentions recognized with publication in iScience

In recognition that the remarkable talent of the award applicants is not limited to four winners, an additional four honorable mentions were also selected this year, whose essays appear in the journal iScience. The selected honorees are undergraduate Djemila Compaore of Dartmouth College for her essay, “Understanding the simply complex”; PhD candidate Adrianne Gladden-Young of Tufts University for her essay, “Diverse pathways towards a cure”; undergraduate Overpower Gore of Earlham College for his essay, “Data or opinion?”; and PhD candidate Aja Nicely of the University of Texas at Austin, for her essay, “Dismantling the curse of the ‘first.’” 

"Since the company's founding, CST has been passionate about three things: advancing science, protecting the environment, and supporting under-represented communities," says Margaret Murray, Executive Director, Human Resources at Cell Signaling Technology.  "The Rising Black Scientist Awards touch all three of these priorities–especially this year–with brilliant essays by bright and promising scientists, including those who are similarly passionate about sustainability.  We are honored to be co-sponsoring these awards for a third year, and we are tremendously excited to have the opportunity to support these young scientists as they develop their careers."


Cell Press (@CellPressNews), an imprint of Elsevier, is a leading publisher of scientific research and reviews, with over 50 scientific journals across the life, physical, earth, and health sciences. We seek to support the scientific community and inspire future directions in research with our editorial excellence, commitment to innovation, unparalleled reach and visibility, and passion for advocacy. Visit

Cell Signaling Technology (CST) is a different kind of life sciences company—one founded, owned, and run by active research scientists, with the highest standards of product and service quality, technological innovation, and scientific rigor. Founded in 1999 and headquartered in Danvers, Massachusetts, USA, CST employs over 600 people worldwide. We consistently provide fellow scientists around the globe with best-in-class products and services to fuel their quests for discovery. CST is a company of caring people driven by a devotion to facilitating good science—a company committed to doing the right thing for our Customers, our communities, and our planet.

The Elsevier Foundation is a corporate not-for-profit 501(c)(3), funded by Elsevier, a global information analytics business specialized in science and health. Since 2006, the Elsevier Foundation provides over $1.5 million USD a year in grants to knowledge-centered institutions around the world, which address the UN Sustainable Development Goals through tech-enabled innovations in inclusive health and research. The Foundation offers a comprehensive matching gift and volunteering fund to enable employees to work with Foundation partners and support their communities. The Elsevier Foundation is part of Elsevier’s larger corporate responsibility program which centers on our unique contributions to sustainable development in gender, health, climate and reducing inequalities.

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