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GPI - Chantrell Frazier, Professor of Chemistry 

A woman smiling at the viewer.
Courtesy of Framingham State

By Rachel Tolmach

Staff Writer 

What is your educational and professional background? 

My bachelor’s is in forensic science with a concentration in chemistry. I also did a minor in math, but you won’t see that on the diploma. I did that as an undergrad at Savannah State University, and then I immediately went to Florida International University, where I got my doctorate in biochemistry, which also had a forensics focus. 

What is your role at Framingham State, and how long have you been here? 

My name is Chantrell Frazier. I’m an assistant professor of chemistry through the Mary Miles Bibb Postdoctoral Fellowship, and this is my second year here at Framingham State.

What is the Mary Miles Bibb Postdoctoral Fellowship? 

The Mary Miles Bibb Postdoctoral Fellowship is for new doctorates who are interested in teaching. The fellowship focuses on honing your teaching skills and also to help obtain a tenure-track position. 

What motivated you to become interested in chemistry? 

So, chemistry has always been kind of easy for me, but I’ve always wanted to do forensic science. I was very interested in the NCIS shows where you have Abby, who is like the super forensic scientist. I also liked CSI and then also Criminal Minds, which was more of behavior analysis. I was really trying to figure out how to get into that field, and Savannah State had a forensic science program. You had to choose between chemistry and biology, and because I was inclined toward chemistry, I chose the chemistry track.

What motivated you to pursue a Ph.D. and become a professor? 

Honestly, it was either going back to graduate school or getting a job, so I ended up getting accepted to the FIU doctorate program because my mentor said I could do it. And that’s kind of all she wrote. I literally just was motivated. I also would like to mention that I’m the fifth on my dad’s side to obtain a Ph.D. My granddad, my grandma, my aunt, and my dad all have Ph.D.s, and they’re also educators as well. So, I’m the fifth out of that group. 

How would you describe your teaching style? 

Very interactive. Very hands-on. I tried to kind of dismantle the whole, ‘I’m your professor, you’re my student.’ I give you a great relationship. I want students to understand that they are capable of asking questions to me, even if they feel like they can’t. I try to make them as comfortable as possible because chemistry can sometimes be overwhelming. And so I try to dismantle chemistry as being something very hard and make it so that people understand that anyone can understand it. 

Who is your biggest inspiration for women from the STEM field?

I’m actually going to say, Marie Daly. She was actually the first African American woman to receive a doctorate in chemistry in the United States. I resonate with her because I was also the first African American woman in my biochemistry program at FIU to get a doctorate in that specific department. And so, you know, I resonate with her just because she was a first, and I’m a first, and her history is so cool. She was in the Super Bowl commercial for Pfizer. She had like a little segment in there. But she’s credited a lot for the relationship between cholesterol and heart health, which we know impacts African Americans a lot. And so that’s what I’ve been doing this semester. Just trying to, if a month has a theme, kind of introduce students to those scientists who have been involved in that way or relate in that way. 

What is your best tip for studying and retaining information from lectures? 

Practice, practice, practice. I know it can be tedious, but the more you practice something, the more you have contact with it on paper. It’s been understood and studied that that helps. Not only writing notes while in class, or even if you’re not a great note taker, just paying attention in class and then going back and practicing that concept, whether that’s through homework or through the worksheets that I provide, you just want to put in an equal amount of your class time and your studying time. So, if your class is an hour, put in an hour of study. That’s how I think you can do really well trying to grasp the concept.

What’s a piece of advice you would pass on to undergraduate students? 

Understand that your journey is just beginning. And it’s OK - it’s OK to make change. You know, all change is good change. Whether you’re comfortable with it or not, understand that the journey is just beginning, and changes want to happen, you know, regardless, so just learn to adapt to that and move forward.

Why should students take your Chem 107 class even if they’re not a chemistry major? 

I just want everyone to learn chemistry. I think chemistry is involved in all aspects of our lives, and so understanding that just makes interacting with life that much more fun.



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