Published September 13, 2022
UB scholar and researcher Carleara Weiss has been chosen as a scholar in the National Institutes of Health’s MOSAIC program recognizing excellence and academic diversity within the academic biomedical research workforce.
The national program — Maximizing Opportunities for Scientific and Academic Independent Careers — is designed to recognize and promote individuals from groups underrepresented in the biomedical research workforce at the faculty level into independent, tenure-track or equivalent research-intensive faculty positions.
Weiss is one of 18 scholars chosen this year. She also received a K99/R00 Award from the National Institute on Aging to support her pathway to independence as a researcher.
A postdoctoral fellow in the Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences at UB, Weiss recently accepted a position to continue her mentored training at the School of Nursing. Her research interests include biomarkers of sleep and cognitive function in older adults.
Born in Miracema, a rural town near Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Weiss was raised in an intergenerational household, surrounded by what she describes as strong and driven women. Her great-grandmother was a doula, which triggered her curiosity into biomedical sciences. As a first-generation college graduate, she joined the Federal Fluminense University nursing program hoping to become a midwife. However, the influence of her intergenerational household inspired her to pursue a career as a geriatric nurse, aspiring to improve the quality of life of people with dementia.
She earned a master’s degree in health care from Federal Fluminense University and a PhD from the UB School of Nursing, studying the impact of sleep disturbances on fatigue and quality of life of older adults. Weiss then pursued a T32 Fellowship exploring mouse models of circadian disruptions and cognitive impairment.
“I am grateful and honored to receive the NIH MOSAIC award and become a part of a diversity task force in science,” says Weiss, who earned the distinction on her first try, unusual for MOSAIC recognition. “The training and research funding will support my career development while helping me to investigate the critical relationship between sleep and dementia. I hope that my experience will inspire other students from minority backgrounds into pursuing a career in science at UB.
“It feels like a dream coming true.”
Weiss wrote on a UB webpage that being at the School of Nursing “is about pushing your own limits and always achieving more. If you are on the fence about applying, go for it! I was accepted to other programs, but UBSON was the best choice I could make.
“It is a life-changing experience from socialization to education, touching every detail about making a successful career as scientist and faculty,” she wrote. “I have great mentors that are truly interested in my success. I do not see that happening to my friends getting a degree elsewhere. The more open you are to take opportunities here, the more you will grow.”
In her work, Weiss combines laboratory and clinical expertise to explore biomarkers associated with cognition and sleep in older adults, with particular interest in minority communities. She founded BRASCON — Brazilian Students and Scholars Conference — to support networking and career development of Brazilian scientists in the U.S., and regularly mentors biomedical science students from diverse backgrounds. As a MOSAIC scholar, she hopes to continue empowering diversity in science.
“For international students, I offer this,” Weiss says. “The first thing we hear when we say ‘Buffalo’ is the weather. Well, Buffalo is prepared for the weather. We have a four-season city and we know how to enjoy all of it.
“UB and UB SON are prepared to support national and international students,” she says. “You will learn from every experience and you must be open to learn from your mistakes. This is the perfect environment for someone who wants to grow. Listen to your mentors; be dedicated and eager to push your own limits. You will find a great support system in the staff, faculty and your colleagues.
“So, come to UBSON and get ready for a big journey!”
Congratulations Carleara! Welcome to UBSON; looking forward to working with you!
Tania Von Visger