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Arts & Culture

Rad Scientist Podcast: The Fever Effect

Melonie Vaughn dons a white lab coat at UC San Diego in this photo taken in August, 2019.
Agustín Rodríguez López
Melonie Vaughn dons a white lab coat at UC San Diego in this photo taken in August, 2019.
Melonie Vaughn’s desire to study neurodevelopmental disorders stemmed from watching her autistic brother struggle with navigating school and social relationships. Now she is a rising second year neuroscience Ph.D. student at UC San Diego. Melonie, an Afro-Panamanian, is the only black woman in her program. Twitter handle: @melonievaughn_ Episode Music: Rad Scientist Theme Motif - Grant Fisher At Our Best Alone - Blue Dot Sessions Not Alone - Lee Rosevere The Yards - Blue Dot Sessions How I Used To See The Stars - Lee Rosevere Blammo - Podington Bear

Melonie Vaughn’s desire to study neurodevelopmental disorders stemmed from watching her autistic brother struggle with navigating school and social relationships. During her undergraduate at Harvard, she studied a mysterious phenomenon called the fever effect where some autistic individuals experience a reduction in symptoms when their temperature is elevated.

Now she is a rising second-year neuroscience Ph.D. student at UC San Diego. Vaughn, an Afro-Panamanian, is the only black woman in her program. After a professor made racist comments during a lecture, she’s been pushing for institutional changes to her program to support students of color.

Rooting out racism includes so much more than reforming police practices. Those subtle and not so subtle barriers exist everywhere, from the streets, to the schools to the ivory towers of academia. A new season of personal stories launches today from the KPBS podcast, “Rad Scientist,” stories from Black scientists who have made some cool scientific discoveries and overcome racial barriers to follow their passion .