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Name: Lynnicia Massenburg

Business: Peaches and Science, Biochemistry inspired jewelry

Industry: Clothing & Accessories

Location: Urbana-Champagne, Illinois, U.S.

Reason for starting: My main reason for starting is to help pay off my undergraduate college debts. Now as a PhD student in Plant Biology, this project is a creative outlet for me to relax after fulfilling the daily demands of graduate school. I study plant enzymes for a living, so it is really nifty to share my findings through jewelry. Being a nerd is fantastic, embrace it!

I created these protein structure earrings to present science, especially biochemistry, to the public in a simple and whimsical way. This zinc-finger protein is taught in nearly all biochemistry courses, but its existence is unknown to most people. This protein plays a significant role in our bodies by regulating protein synthesis among other things. Presented here is a model of the classic zinc finger, but they can come in a variety of shapes and sizes. I enjoy bringing these structures to a scale that captures their structural complexity in a visually appealing way. My mission with these wired helices, sheets and loops is to spread science through art, one protein structure at a time.

Related: Read about another entrepreneur creating jewelry inspired by nature here.

How do you define success? I define success as accomplishing one’s goals with a positive attitude, regardless of any obstacles that may have appeared along the way. 

Biggest Success: My main goal is to spread science to the public, fellow scientists included. One of my customers studying at Azusa Pacific University in Southern California reached out to tell me how appropriate her scorpion toxin earrings were since she was learning about voltage-gated potassium channels in her neurobiology class. Receiving messages such as this confirms my mission to spread scientific knowledge in a package that appeals to the eyes as well as the mind. It makes me feel good to know that others appreciate how biochemistry relates to their lives.

Related: Who Says Science is Dull? Here’s a Beautiful Way to Look at Earth

What is your top challenge and how have you addressed it? As a first year business, one of my top challenges was fulfilling a spike of orders for the holidays while applying for competitive graduate schools and fellowships. I never experienced the holiday ordering rush before and thought I would never be able to keep up with the orders, my daytime job and applications all at once. In the end, I managed to complete said orders, fellowships and graduate school applications in time while still remaining employed. 

Who is your most important role model? Neil deGrasse Tyson is one of the most important role models in my life. Aside from his prominence for an impeccable skill in communicating science to the public, he has a humbling demeanor of always wanting to learn more. I am awe-inspired by his light-handed, yet meaningful discussions in science. His literary and oratorical strides have broken many barriers for me as an African American woman. As a result, I feel more confident about spreading the word on biochemistry while learning more about the field in a medium that I enjoy: crafting. 

Twitter   @PeachandSci

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