The story of our colleague, 35-year-old biology professor Lynika Strozier, is a sobering reminder of the hurdles faced by Black American scientists (Nature 582, 147; 2020). Her death from COVID-19 complications during a global pandemic and nationwide reckoning of systemic racism has led to an outpouring of support.
Strozier was raised by her grandmother and was diagnosed with a learning disorder at an early age. She went on to earn two master’s degrees simultaneously, from Chicago’s Loyola University and University of Illinois. As she told the Chicago Tribune in 2012, “You get knocked down so many times, you learn to pick yourself up.”
Strozier overcame these challenges through hard work, perseverance and strong relationships. She said that her research into biodiversity had endowed her with a previously unimaginable confidence. These experiences made her a keen mentor of other young researchers.
Her family started a GoFundMe campaign (https://gf.me/u/x737pr) to help offset Strozier’s medical and funeral costs. Because this quickly surpassed expectations, they have now created a scholarship fund in her name.
Nature 583, 30 (2020)