Latisha Salaam: M.S., Biomedical Engineering, 2003 • Ph.D., Biomedical Engineering, 2005By Grant Martin
University professors challenge students to think in a new way—to explore beyond the boundaries of their current knowledge. Latisha Salaam, Ph.D., turned that relationship on its head as a UAB graduate student.
After earning an undergraduate degree from Tuskegee University in chemical engineering, Latisha Salaam, Ph.D., followed a unique course to earn a master’s degree (2003) and Ph.D. (2005) in biomedical engineering from UAB. “At that time, there was no one working on drug-delivery systems, at least not in the way that a chemical/biomedical engineer and materials scientist would think of it,” Salaam says. “I knew the kind of project I wanted to work on for my dissertation, so I had to seek out a professor who was willing to work with me on that idea.”
Salaam eventually connected with assistant professor Terry Bray, Ph.D. (now with the UAB Research Foundation) on her dissertation. The result of that research was three publication submissions, eight invited presentations, and several graduate awards.
Today, Salaam is a senior scientist at Procter and Gamble, where she has been awarded 12 patents for her designs of lotion-containing tissues and other products and has earned the company’s Research and Development Innovation Award and Outstanding Contribution Award. In 2013, she was awarded the Lloyd N. Ferguson Young Scientist Award by the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers.
Although her work at Procter and Gamble isn’t directly related to her doctoral studies at UAB, Salaam says the experience she gained has been invaluable. “All science is related,” she explains. “The basis for a Ph.D. is learning how to command the scientific method, and the fundamental science I used in my Ph.D. work is the same that I am using in my current projects.”
Although Salaam is now based in Cincinnati, Ohio, she stays connected with UAB through her role on the Department of Biomedical Engineering’s Advisory Board. She also has a younger sister, Amanee Salaam, who earned her master’s from UAB and is currently working on a Ph.D. in biomedical engineering. “I am one of three sisters; one is a nurse, and the other two of us are engineers,” Salaam says.
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