Meet The First Black Woman To Earn A Ph.D. In Biochemistry At Florida International University


June 29, 2022

She’s a glass ceiling breaker! 

Chantrell Frazier is the first Black woman to earn a doctorate in biochemistry at Florida International University, Atlanta Black Star reports. 

When starting her collegiate journey, Frazier knew that it was crucial for her to attend a Historically Black College or University (HBCU) as she believed it would give her the proper foundation to adequately prepare her for graduate school. That was one of the reasons why she chose to attend Savannah State University (SSU), the other reason being because it’s the alma mater of her grandparents. 


“It prepared me to not falter. It prepared me when things got difficult not to quit,” Frazier told the Atlanta Black Star. 

While attending SSU, the Tampa native was a student-athlete, playing for the women’s basketball team and majoring in forensic science. Binge-watching “NCIS” and “Criminal Minds” with her mother, a 9-1-1 dispatcher who also studied forensic science, is what sparked Frazier’s passion for the field of study. Taking her love for both forensics and biochemistry one step further, she went on to apply and get accepted into FIU’s esteemed Ph.D. research program.

During the six-year program, Frazier was able to identify a person’s sex based upon their specific body odor, as well as examine human body odor, and detect the chemical and biological aspects to practice accurate forensic identification. Upon successfully defending her dissertation, Frazier made history as the first Black woman at FIU to earn a Ph.D. in biochemistry – and the second Black person to receive the highest degree in biochemistry at the university.


Frazier, who also investigated if mosquitoes were attracted to specific human scents, is set to present her dissertation project in Tanzania. The history maker’s future plans also includes starting a postdoctoral teaching fellowship at Framingham State University in Massachusetts and becoming a chemistry professor that will inspire the next generation of STEM leaders.

The 28-year-old is already setting an example for her six younger siblings as three of Frazier’s sisters have graduated from high school, one sibling is a college graduate, and another sibling is attending the historically Black Edward Waters University.

“It’s just being an example for them, showing them that the ceiling is open because I feel like I’ve broken a lot of glass ceilings with what I’ve done,” said Frazier.


Yes, you have! Congratulations, Dr. Frazier! Keep breaking the glass ceiling. 

Photo Courtesy of Chantrell Frazier 

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