Patrice Yarbough, PhD

Retired Senior Scientist
AWIS National Governing Board
Marine Biological Laboratory Board Trustee
University of Houston STEMRISE Board Member
Ashley Jadine Foundation President
AWIS member since 1984

“If it is important to you, then work hard for it.”

Patrice Yarbough PhD

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

Sustained science careers require that leaders not only act themselves but communicate well enough to inspire others to act.

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

I sustained a career in science for over 30 years while balancing being a wife and mother of two children. I was awarded the COPEV Young Investigator Award for Prevention of Viral Hepatitis in 1996, and in 2020 the NASA Silver Achievement Medal for leadership in the human research HERA program.

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

I want to contribute new and valid data to the science community and to encourage others to do the same. I’ll overcome every obstacle in my path both on and off the lab bench through perseverance.

Describe an amazing opportunity in your STEM career. 

I started working in private industry at two small biotech companies, transitioned to an academic medical center, and ended up at a government space agency. The common theme was high-impact translational research studies.

How was AWIS helped you professionally and/or personally? 

Local AWIS chapters allowed me to: (1) have conversations with women in science who were peers, (2) plan programs for younger female scientists in the pipeline and (3) grow and expand my vision for the science community with other like-minded women in science.

What is your favorite word? (only one word)


How do you define it? 

Positive attitude; belief in positive outcomes.

How has this word influenced or inspired your career? 

My optimism has sustained my career for over 35 years. My optimism keeps me striving for more and better and never giving up.

How does AWIS impact your career journey

I joined AWIS as a graduate student in 1984 and joined the local chapter wherever I lived during all my career moves. AWIS was common ground for me over the decades.

What are you currently reading or listening to? 

The Rise by Sarah Lewis.

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

Personal advice from my dad: If it is important to you, then work hard for it.

Patrice O. Yarbough, PhD, former senior scientist at NASA JSC was awarded the 2020 Silver Achievement Medal for leadership in the human research HERA program. At Genelabs Technologies, she led development of a hepatitis E virus vaccine and received the 1996 COPEV Award for Prevention of Viral Hepatitis. An NSF pre-doctoral fellow, she earned biochemistry degrees at the University of Houston and was honored as a distinguished alumna in 2017. Recently retired, she provides strategic advising for the AWIS National Governing Board, serves on the University of Houston STEMRISE Advisory Board and is Board Trustee for the Marine Biological Laboratory.