Photo credits: titishodiya.com
Scientist, engineer, speaker, host, author, mainstream entertainment critic, content producer, and storyteller Titi Shodiya (pictured) is ingrained with a penchant for visualizing ordinary occurrences via a scientific perspective – for the purpose of making scientific terminology become more easily absorbed – by individuals from cultures, which are less contemporary than the one that makes up the prevailing society inside the STEM career fields.
Shodiya was birthed and reared in the Maryland county of Prince George’s. In 2010, Shodiya earned a Bachelor of Science in Materials Science and Engineering with a minor in Mathematics from Penn State. 2015 saw her graduate from Duke University with a Master of Science in Electrical and Computer Engineering. In 2015, Shodiya received her Ph.D. in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science.
She is devoting her career to utilizing acquired expertise as a materials scientist and mechanical engineer to affect scientific realms, mainstream entertainment pipelines, and elsewhere. In an exclusive interview with BlackThen.com (for the publication’s “Black to the Future” segment), Shodiya describes another of her aspirations: guiding the future generation’s women of color into the non-inclusive STEM job sector in the Western world.
*NOTE FROM EDITOR: The interview that follows has been altered for clarity.
1. In addition to summarizing a more concise, elaborate, and personable early life chronology, identify the moment when you decided you would pursue your current career.
I was born and raised in PG County, MD to my parents, who are from Nigeria (father) and Ghana (mother). I have two sisters who both have degrees in engineering. I went to elementary and middle school at Riverdale Baptist and high school at Queen Anne School. When I was young, probably six or seven, I had a conversation with my mother where she told me that her father was an engineer. I had no idea what an engineer was, so I asked her more about it. At that moment, I decided that engineering was the career path for me. When I told her “I want to be an engineer like Grandpa” without hesitation, she said “you will be”. My parents nurtured my passions, and without that, I wouldn’t be where I am today. I went to Penn State University after high school and graduated in 2010. There, I majored in Materials Science and Engineering, minored in Mathematics, and joined Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc.
After graduating, I started graduate school at Duke University and received a Masters in Electrical Engineering (2012) and a PhD in Mechanical Engineering and Materials Science (2015). While in grad school, I met my best friend Zakiya Whatley, and we came up with the idea for our podcast, Dope Labs, based on our experiences as scientists. Dope Labs is a podcast that shows how science intersects with pop culture, with the hope of showing that science is in everything and science is for everybody. We launched in February of 2019, and it has been a huge success. Michelle Obama tweeted about Dope Labs. We have been nominated for numerous podcast awards, we were named in Essence Magazine’s Woke 100 in 2019, and we were the #8 science podcast in the country in 2020. Recently, we had the honor of being on a panel on the power of audio storytelling at EssenceFest for Spotify. When Pandora saw my post about EssenceFest and other achievements, they selected me to be gifted a piece from their newest collection, “Diamonds By Pandora,” for their campaign celebrating women experiencing milestones no matter how big or small. Only 100 women were selected, and I am so honored to be one of them. The stories of the other women are so inspiring and being mentioned with them in this campaign is empowering.