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Maia Clare

Maia Clare

2020 Astronaut Scholar


Glenshaw, PA




College of Science


Maia Clare was awarded the Astronaut Scholarship in recognition of her promising undergraduate research in genetics. Maia is working towards genetically-based, targeted disease treatments, with a goal of equitable treatment for all people.


“As human beings, we are inclined to find the patterns around us, classifying others neatly into categories such as male, female, black, and white. These classifications are often based on arbitrary assumptions and can even limit how we deal with the issues that plague the masses. In the social context, this leads to discrimination and dangerous stereotypes. In the context of disease, this leads to inadequate remedies and deadly outcomes,” Maia says, noting the widening gaps in overall health between white and non-white populations worldwide. By targeting disease treatments based on genetics, every person can receive individualized treatment rather than just the treatment that works on a majority population. As Maia says, “Categories are for jeopardy or music genres, not people and the medicine used to treat them.”


Maia has been involved in research at Purdue University since her second year, working in Dr. Matthew Olson’s lab for Biological Sciences and Cancer Research. At Purdue, she was a research scholar for the National Science Foundation-funded Louis Stokes Alliance for Minority Participation. In addition, she was selected for a summer internship in the lab of Professor Cédric Feschotte at Cornell University studying the evolution of retroviruses. Maia’s experimental work has already uncovered important biology about how pathogenic immune cells develop in live subjects. According to her professors, these findings have implications for how allergies and other inflammatory diseases can be effectively treated in the future.


In addition to her impressive research, Maia has been heavily involved in diversity work on Purdue’s campus. She served as a mentor for two Purdue organizations (the BoilerMentor Multicultural Science Program and the Women in Science Mentor Program) and headed the Purdue Association of Multicultural Science Students as president of the organization for two years.


Following her bachelor’s degree program, Maia plans to pursue graduate school in molecular biology.