Since she began her academic career, Leslie McClure has always had a keen interest and respect for others. It is her passion for representing women and people of color in the mathematical sciences that led to her recently being appointed as the SAMSI Associate Director of Diversity in early August of this year.
“Throughout my education, particularly my undergraduate, I was often one of very few women in my classes, and rarely had female professors,” said McClure. “Women and people of color are represented in lower numbers in the professorate, and have even less representation in the higher levels of academics.”
McClure, who also currently serves as the Chair of the Department of Epidemiology and Biostatistics at the Dornsife School of Public Health at Drexel University, received her Bachelor’s Degree in Mathematics from the University of Kansas. She went on to receive a Master’s Degree in Preventive Medicine and Environmental Health from the University of Iowa and later, a Ph.D. in Biostatistics from the University of Michigan.
Before working at Drexel, McClure spent 11 years as a faculty member at the University of Alabama at Birmingham in the Department of Biostatistics.
“I gravitated towards biostatistics because it was a good fit with my interests, but I think I was also attracted to the field because it appeared more diverse than math,” said McClure.
McClure is a trained clinical trials statistician and her current research is focused on the methods that drive adaptive design in clinical trials, as well as the practical implications of implementing an adaptive design. She also works diligently trying to understand why racial inequalities exist in disease, particularly cardiovascular disease and stroke, and the role that the environment may play in those differences.
“Without diversity of people, we do not have diversity of ideas. Without diversity of ideas, we lose creativity in science, and fail to continue moving forward,” — Leslie McClure
Much like her research, McClure also works as a champion to find ways to make the field of mathematics more inclusive to women and under-represented minorities. “As I have pursued my own academic goals, I have also worked to increase and maintain diversity in the math sciences,” she said.
McClure is also part of the leadership for the National Alliance for Doctoral Studies in the Mathematical Sciences, where she serves as the Associate Director of Statistics. One of the main goals of the Math Alliance, located on the campus of Purdue University, is to foster the growth of the community of mathematical scientists in order to promote a diverse workforce.
SAMSI is proud to have added such an accomplished professional to the directorate. SAMSI believes whole-heartedly in creating an academic environment of equality and inclusivity for all. As the SAMSI Diversity Director, McClure will work with local universities and through her numerous contacts nationwide to research and implement strategies that will work towards advancing the careers of under-represented groups in the field mathematics.
McClure stays busy and focused. When she is not doing research or working for the betterment of others, she stays active running and spending time with her husband (who is a Chemistry Professor at Drexel) and their two children, Lillian and Preston. McClure also enjoys spending time with her dog, Bosco, watching Law and Order reruns.
“Without diversity of people, we do not have diversity of ideas. Without diversity of ideas, we lose creativity in science, and fail to continue moving forward,” said McClure.