Marin City’s Malachia Hoover Awarded Ford Foundation Fellowship

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From left: Malachia Hoover in the lab at Cal State Northridge. (Photo by Luis Garcia). Malachia Hoover at Stanford University (Photo by Natalie L. Camacho).

Malachia Hoover, who grew up in Marin City, recently earned her Master’s degree in Biology as part of California State University Northridge’s (CSUN) Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE) program. She is currently a second-year graduate student and research assistant studying at Stanford University’s Institute for Stem Cell Biology and Regenerative Medicine.

She has also been named a recipient of the prestigious fellowship from the Ford Foundation, whose mission is to “increase the diversity of the nation’s college and university faculties by increasing their ethnic and racial diversity, (and) to maximize the educational benefits of diversity…”

While studying at CSUN’s Developmental Oncogene Laboratory, which studies how a normal cell changes into a cancer cell, Hoover worked under Dr. Jonathan Kelber and addressed important questions in cancer and tissue regeneration. Kelber mentored Hoover for more than four years, and said that she stood out as a student because of her numerous publications.

“Malachia has already had co-authorship on one paper, she’s had first authorship on another paper, she’s got a second first-author paper that we’re working [on], and she’s going to be on at least two [more],” Kelber said. “She’s been very prolific in terms of research productivity, which made her an outstanding applicant.”

Hoover credited CSUN’s RISE programs for providing opportunities to help her achieve her goals.

Hoover said that RISE helped her financially during her work as a graduate student, and her community in Marin City played an integral role in supporting her dreams.

“Being part of the RISE program was a huge help,” Hoover said. “They were able to support me, so I didn’t have to [be a teacher’s assistant] as much or work off campus. This helped a lot because it allowed me to focus on my research.

“My community (including family, friends, and community members) played a big role in my Ph.D. application process,” she added. “They helped me raise $1,500 through GoFundMe. That helped me pay for all the application costs.”

Hoover was also awarded scholarships from the Sausalito Woman’s Club in 2014, 2015 and 2017, and was honored by the Hannah Project in 2015.

Hoover participated in Felecia Gaston’s “Enlighten” program in 2017, where 75 young girls of color gathered in Marin City to meet with working women, such as Hoover, and hear about the worlds of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — areas of study that have sometimes been out of reach for minority women.

“There has been a lack of women and a lack of women of color in these fields,” said Gaston, executive director of Performing Stars, to the Marin I.J. “It’s people like Hoover who are their role models.”

“We need more scientists that come from minority backgrounds,” Hoover said.” [Anyone] can be a scientist through hard work and mentorship.”

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