Chemists in the Real World


Kimberly Jackson, Associate Professor Biochemistry

Kimberly Jackson received her Ph.D. in biochemistry in 1999 with a focus on cellular immunology, completed a post-doc in cancer biology in 2002, and then joined the faculty at Spelman College where she has remained ever since. In this role, she teaches, mentors students, and directs a small research laboratory with a focus on diet-derived chemotherapeutics for prostate cancer.

She has been awarded more than one million dollars in federal and private grants to investigate new therapies for advanced prostate cancer. She has mentored more than 40 research students since arriving at Spelman College, providing them with research experiences in cancer therapeutics and drug discovery. She feels that her role is to effectively mentor a new generation of students, while providing them with a versatile set of skills that will enable them to thrive professionally, and give back to the community.  Many of her research students have either graduated from or are now in competitive post-graduate programs getting health professional degrees or PhD degrees in the biomedical and chemical sciences. Currently, she has 5 students in her research lab.

She is passionate about furthering the pursuit of science in an underrepresented group: “I empower women of color to embrace science and to share it with the world. My day never gets mundane or boring; I am always busy!”

Jackson benefits from being an ACS member through travel awards to meetings, from the international center information, and by being a former chemistry club advisor.  She is also on the ACS Committee for Minority Affairs.

Kimberly Jackson is an Associate Professor of Biochemistry at Spelman College. This is how she works.

What's a typical day on the job like?

  • Attending administrative meetings: 20%
  • Teaching courses: 20%
  • Running and planning experiments: 10%
  • Managing grants (writing reports and managing people associated with the grants): 30%
  • Mentoring students: 20%

Are there any apps/software/instrumentation/tools that you can't live without?

Too many to list! You will always see me with an iPad, laptop, tablet or some type of  computational device; I love apps such as  groupme,  iannotate, and voicethread. I  can’t live without my online npr,  Pandora and ACS.

Describe your work environment.

I have a private office in addition to laboratory space in a state-of-the-art science building.

Does your job follow a typical 9-to-5 schedule?

60 hours a week; overtime is not required. The environment can be relaxed—however, in order to maintain a lab, teach, direct a new  Interdisciplinary Food Studies Program, mentor, and manage grants, it takes a lot of time.

What is your best productivity trick?

I try to compartmentalize my brain and calendar obligations. I separate my roles as a scientist and a mom/wife. I give my complete and undivided attention to my family when it’s time for them and the same with my scientist/mentor/professor role. Also, I time myself on certain projects to maintain productivity.

What's the best career advice you've received?

Try to intertwine your research with your teaching. It will make teaching easier.

Do you have any special talents or traits that make you a great fit for your job?

My organizational skills and ability to multitask.

What essential habit do you have now that you wish you'd started much earlier?

Completing tasks as soon as I receive the assignment.

What is your favorite ACS resource?

The ACS webinar series. I incorporate some of the webinars into my class--especially the Food Chemistry series. I teach a non-science major Food Chemistry course.