“Right now the cure rates for acute lymphoblastic leukemia, which is what I had, I believe are upwards of 90%. Right about the time I was treated, the rate of cure had skyrocketed from 30% 15 years earlier to around 75%. So my parents had a lot of reason to hope, but it was still a very scary time for them,” said Nodland, the principal Scientist at Kerry Health.
While Nodland’s focus on cancer and the immune system are likely a direct result of her experience, she said she probably would have pursued science regardless.
“I have a teacher and a biologist parents. So it was part of my upbringing too,” said Nodland.
“When I started in research, I think it was a little bit like the big curve in kids getting cured with cancer. The curve was on the upswing as far as women being in STEM. During the time that I did my graduate work, the percentage of PhDs awarded to men versus women equalized and now, in the biological sciences, it's 50/50 if not 60% women.”
Nodland and her husband, also a scientist, have two young daughters. She said while they do encourage STEM, they try to make teachable moments fun.
“They asked me about DNA and then we go extract some from a banana in the kitchen,” laughed Nodland.