Dr. Jasmine Drake is Shaping the Future of STEM in Criminal Justice Reform
Dr. Jasmine Drake’s impressive leadership and personal accomplishments continues to grow, even after achieving so much already. As a recently tenured and promoted associate professor in the Administration of Justice Department, Dr. Drake devotes a great amount of her energy and time to students and the next generation of researchers. Since the inception of the Center for Justice of Research (CJR) in 2018, Dr. Drake has worked as a Faculty Research Fellow, where she conducts evidence-based research on drug policies that disproportionately impact minority communities and collaborates with researchers and students.
“Teaching and guiding the next generation of solutions-orientated scientists with the CJR and Texas Southern University has been endlessly rewarding,” Dr. Drake said. “I love teaching students of all ages about how science and math can be used in a variety of different professions.”
Dr. Drake said her work at the CJR has been an instrumental part of her success as a Junior Faculty member at a HBCU. The CJR has created a nurturing and energetic environment as well as resources to support Dr. Drake’s research goals. She also stated that “being a part of the CJR has also created invaluable professional development opportunities, which have enabled me to shape my research agenda, while focusing on measurable outcomes in order to create data-driven policy solutions. Working with the CJR team has helped me to increase my research footprint and also led to an increase in my scholarly products, such as published peer-reviewed articles and in securing external grant funding.”
"Dr. Drake represents the very purpose of CJR. Her maturation and passion for teaching, research and service speak to our ability to dismantle systemic ism's within scientific institutions, academic environments, and community-based projects,” said Dr. Howard Henderson, founding director of CJ.
As a forensic scientist, Dr. Drake is committed to ensuring her field is equitable and free from bias toward communities of color. To aid with her passion of exposing girls from fragile communities to science, technology, engineering and math, Dr. Drake has been chosen as one of the inaugural fellows for the Fellowship of the Future. The fellowship comes from 500 Women Scientists and aims to amplify the crucial role of women of color in STEM. Dr. Drake’s fellowship project is a CSI-themed summer science training academy at the Texas Southern University Forensic Science Learning Laboratory.
Increasing diversity in STEM is a focal point for Dr. Drake. While Blacks account for approximately 13% of the U.S. population, they only hold 4.8% of all STEM workforce positions. By diversifying workers in STEM, Dr. Drake believes new, innovative approaches will be brought to all aspects of STEM.
“My mother stressed the importance of education to me and my siblings. She sacrificed so much to give us access to encyclopedias, computers and STEM-related video games. All of these resources helped me to discover that I had a gift for sharing knowledge in easily digestible ways to other people,” Dr. Drake said. “I want to help kids access STEM with the same or better opportunities than those I had.”
Outside nurturing interest in STEM in children, Dr. Drake continues to make personal strides in the field of forensics. Her work has evolved to focusing on criminal justice reform, drug policy, officer involved shootings of minorities, and other criminal-justice related issues. By applying her forensic expertise, Dr. Drake works to provide data and evidence that will bring real reform to the criminal justice system. She has also worked to provide hands-on forensic science training opportunities for K-12 students and educators, law enforcement officials and litigators.
The goal of these sessions are to create a better understanding of forensic science data implications and their interpretations. The trainings are also used to learn how forensic science data can have dire impacts on the criminal justice system.
Dr. Drake has over a decade of experience in forensic science and has served as a Governor-appointed commissioner on the Texas Forensic Science Commission since 2016. A native of Baton Rouge, La., Dr. Drake obtained her Bachelors of Science Degree from Southern University and later obtained her Doctorate in Chemistry from Louisiana State University. Upon the completion of her graduate studies, Dr. Drake received a prestigious postdoctoral fellowship from the National Research Council to work for over 3 years at the National Institute of Standards and Technology Center for neutron research in Gaithersburg, MD.
After completing her postdoctoral fellowship, Dr. Drake worked as a forensic chemist for the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) South Central Laboratory in Dallas, TX. Prior to joining CJR and TSU, Dr. Drake worked as an assistant professor in the Department of Forensic Science at Sam Houston State University in Huntsville, Tx.
“I’m proud of the work I’ve completed in the field for forensic science, and I have so much more that I want to accomplish,” she said. “But inspiring children to pursue STEM careers and helping students to discover their passion in the field of forensics is just as important to me. I am grateful for this opportunity and look forward to bringing forensic science to underrepresented minorities and getting them interested in STEM.”