Sharonda LeBlanc

Sharonda LeBlanc is a Carolina Postdoctoral Program for Faculty Diversity Scholar, conducting her postdoctoral research with Professor Dorothy Erie in the Chemistry Department at UNC-Chapel Hill. Her current research projects focus on DNA mismatch repair — a system for recognizing and repairing errors that can arise during DNA replication and recombination.

Sharonda-LeBlancPhoto courtesy of Sharonda LeBlanc
February 24th, 2016

When you were a little girl, what was your response to this question: “What do you want to be when you grow up?”

I always said I wanted to be a doctor, lawyer, or professional basketball player. I was way too shy to be a great basketball player, and I ended up running track in college. Being a scientist never crossed my mind, mainly because I didn’t know what it was all about. Doing research is very different from any of those professions, but I love it.

Describe your research in five words.

Protein interactions in DNA repair.

What made you want to be a scientist?

I’ve always been very curious about, well, everything. I had great science teachers in high school, and decided to major in chemistry in college. Even then I thought I was heading to professional school (i.e. pharmacy). I decided to go to graduate school because I realized how much I loved to learn, and being in the research lab was a hands-on way to do just that.

What’s the most interesting thing that happened while you were doing research?

While I was in graduate school, I had the opportunity to attend the 60th Meeting of Nobel Laureates and Students in Lindau, Germany. It felt a little surreal being around so many brilliant people on such a small island, but the experience was amazing. My highlight was having a conversation over dinner with Professor Rudolph Marcus (1992 Nobel Prize in Chemistry for electron transfer theory).

Photo Courtesy of UNC Charlotte At UNC Charlotte, LeBlanc was the first student athlete in the university’s history to garner both academic and athletic All-America Honors. She is a two-time All-American in the women’s triple jump, and a three-time Academic All-American.

Photo Courtesy of UNC Charlotte
At UNC Charlotte, LeBlanc was the first student athlete in the university’s history to garner both academic and athletic All-America Honors. She is a two-time All-American in the women’s triple jump, and a three-time Academic All-American.

What advice would you give to up-and-coming female researchers in your field?

Find good mentors who support you, and believe in your dreams. Have the courage to be you, and don’t apologize for it.

Related Post

UNC Research is proud of every scientist on this campus, but we are especially excited to promote our female researchers in 2016. Each week this year, we will publish a short Q&A feature on one of them — whether she is an undergrad, PhD candidate, or full professor. Please click here to make a recommendation.

Check out our 2016 Women in Science Wednesday Infographic!