Jameka Jefferson

Jameka Jefferson


College of Natural and Social Sciences

Jameka Jefferson’s dream of being a researcher began in seventh grade at Whaley Middle School in Compton.

As her science teacher taught a class about cells and their functions, a passionate fascination was sparked within Jefferson. The young girl who dreamed of being a basketball player knew at that moment she wanted to study biology.

Jefferson attended Los Angeles City College and participated in Bridges to the Future, a summer research program that prepares community college students to be successful in university science programs. She spent more than two months in Professor Nancy McQueen’s lab at Cal State LA. That experience fueled her passion to continue studying at a university level. Her proudest moment came in fall 2013 when she walked onto the campus as an official Cal State LA student.

Jefferson joined both MORE and LSAMP at Cal State LA, participating in research that focused on identifying antibacterial inhibitors in E. coli. Jefferson also enjoyed the social side of MORE by joining and regularly participating in the Student Advisory Committee for the program.

The Minorities Opportunities in Research (MORE) programs, which are funded by the National Science Foundation and National Institutes of Health, aim to prepare motivated students for success in Ph.D. studies with a focus on research in science, mathematics and engineering.

The Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation Program (LSAMP) is also funded by the National Science Foundation, as well the Office of the California State University Chancellor. The program focuses on engaging students in research activities and on activities designed to enhance graduate school preparedness.

Jefferson has delivered many presentations through MORE and LSAMP, most notably for CSU Chancellor Timothy P. White, Cal State LA President William A. Covino and former Los Angeles County Supervisor Gloria Molina. These experiences boosted her self-assurance.

“When it comes to presenting, I am fearless,” she says. “Nothing can harm me.”

In the fall, Jefferson will be returning to Cal State LA to pursue a master's degree and continue participating in research to apply her microbiology background in a neurobiological setting.

Eventually, she hopes for a career with the Centers for Disease Control, where she can study infectious diseases and contribute to the public good.

“People usually scream and run away from infectious diseases,” she says. “I am the one running toward them. I am going to go in a lab and do research and contribute to society.”