Zakariya Gordon graduated from Spelman College in 2023 with a Bachelor of Science in Biochemistry. She is passionate about working with researchers that have identified issues within the larger community and are working to find solutions. During her tenure at Spelman, she volunteered at various community-based organizations.  

In her final year, Zakariya participated in numerous research projects. She worked with Dr. Janae Brown to understand the role of ADP ribosylation factor 6(Arf6) in host-pathogen diseases. This project aimed to characterize myristoylated Arf6 proteins kinetically, structurally, and mechanistically. The research continues and will eventually lead to a more comprehensive understanding of how pathogens enter our bodies and induce illnesses. Zakariya also worked with Dr. Heard-Garris at the ARISE Health Lab to better understand the concept of the ‘double pandemic’ effects on adolescent health. This research is critical for solving the problem early and possibly preventing harmful diseases in adulthood (such as heart disease). 

In 2019, she spent time at the NIH through the HiSTEP 2.0 program. Zakariya worked with Dr. Jacob Nordman studying aggression priming, specifically in mice, through electrophysiology and optogenetics. This research led to an improved understanding of how aggression can be dealt with in the larger society from a psychological and scientific standpoint. 

By participating in these various research opportunities, she has come to understand and appreciate why research is the foundation of the scientific community. That is why she decided to enhance her knowledge and research skill set by completing a post-baccalaureate research fellowship. Upon completing her fellowship, Zakariya plans to attend medical school.

Research Statement

Zakariya’s research focuses on systemic lupus erythematosus (SLE) and specifically studies a diverse pediatric population. Currently, she is working on understanding the mechanisms of individual rare variants within SLE. This research aims to improve the understanding of the pathogenesis of SLE and eventually assist with the creation of targeted disease treatments.


Spelman College
B.S., Biochemistry 2023


Research Student
Spelman College student (2022-2023)  

Peer Tutor for Organic Chemistry
Spelman College (2022-2023)

Job Coach
University of Maryland Medical Center (Summers of 2020,2021, and 2022)

Research Intern
ARISE Health Lab Summer (2021)

Summer Research Student
HiSTEP 2.0 Program, NIMH (2019)

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