Hongmei Li-Byarlay, PhD

Associate Professor
Central State University
AWIS member since 2023

“Be bold and aim high.”

Hongmei Li-Byarlay, PhD

What’s the most important leadership lesson you’ve learned?

A leader should talk less and listen more to the team members, fostering an inclusive environment for all members so they feel secure and are willing to open up for dialogues.

What do you consider to be your most important career achievement or milestone?

My biggest achievement so far is to train underrepresented minority students to join the future STEM workforce.

What do you aspire to accomplish in your career and why? What obstacles will you overcome?

I hope my research findings will be written in the textbook in my field. I also hope all the students I mentor will become outstanding scientists in any field of STEM.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career.

I received a National Science Foundation grant to start my new research as an independent Principal Investigator. That was amazing for me to start my own first project!

How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally?

AWIS help me to gain more confidence as a woman, to learn how to be a better scientist as a female, and help me to reach out to motivate other females.

What is your favorite word? (only one word)


How do you define it?

Anything is possible. I try to give myself enough confidence and focus on everything I do in the current moment.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career?

Every student I work with is a seed that is possibly growing into a beautiful tree.

How does AWIS impact your career journey?

I am happy to join a group of sisters that support each other to thrive as scientists.

What are you currently reading or listening to?

Currently, I am reading a book called Invisible Women: Exposing Data Bias in a World Designed for Men. The author is Caroline Criado Perez, a British feminist.

What do you consider the best professional or personal advice you’ve ever received?

Be bold and aim high. A lot of women are scared to ask for more.

Hongmei Li-Byarlay, PhD, obtained her Bachelor’s Degree of Science in Biology and Education at Tianjin Normal University, and her Master of Science in Zoology at Nan Kai University in China. Her doctoral degree is in Entomology from Purdue University (Indiana), and her postdoctoral training was at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) and North Carolina State University. Since 2017, her research lab focuses on bee behavior, genetics, molecular biology, and physiology.