Brandon Enalls, Ph.D.
Postdoctoral research fellow, Harvard University
He takes his sci-fi fandom to new lengths, investigating real-life Earth aliens.
music or science?
Brandon’s answer to the killing of George Floyd in summer 2020 was to help build a bridge between his university and the wider world. He worked with the Harvard Coalition for Black Lives and social groups in the Boston area. His group convinced the university to match funds raised within the community.
MUSIC OR SCIENCE?
Brandon says, “I think one reason that I was thinking so hard about graduate school — where I should go, if I should go — is that I couldn’t physically see myself as a scientist. At that point in my life a scientist was an older man with crazy hair that locked himself in a basement and never came out to see the sun. I realized you can be a scientist and have many other interests outside of science. You can be a scientist and also a musician, which is what I’ve been doing my whole life.
The McNair Scholars Program includes the Ronald McNair Postbaccalaureate Program that assisted Brandon Enalls, along with the Federal Trio program designed to assist first generation and low-income students as well as students with disabilities.
“One thing I have struggled with a lot is confidence,” Brandon says, “I struggled with being able to think I could do these things.” The answer lay in being true to himself. “I have to be who I am.” He says he used that strength as a motivating factor in keeping himself going during graduate school. “It’s not an easy process at all,” he admits. “I It’s very easy to lose sight of who you are during the process if you don’t have a strong understanding to begin with.” Does it get easier? “I’ve had to keep relearning and retelling myself. Even now, as I’ve finished graduate school, I’m still working on it.”
At the heart of Brandon’s struggle: “I think it’s very easy to see all the positives in other people and not see the same positives in yourself. I look at my peers and their accomplishments, what they’re doing and how far they’ve come, and in my head I think I don’t measure up to the standards I’ve put on other people. It’s important to sit down and recognize your own achievements, recognize the things you’ve done so far, and think about the things you want to do, and how the experiences you’ve had in your life will help you get there.
Brandon knows he’s a trailblazer. “In the six years that I’ve been in my program at Harvard, I’ve been one of two black graduate students out of the 100 we’ve had. At Harvard I’m in graduate school with people from very different backgrounds. We all come from different places, and they’ve helped us get where we are, so we should use our backgrounds as out strengths, and use that to help us move forward. There are times when I don’t know if I’m good enough myself, but at the same time I feel that I need to show other people that I am good, in order to keep bringing people in and bring our demographic numbers up.”
An article about Brandon Enalls and his work aboard R/V Falkor.
An article about Brandon’s research.