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Trevor Sorrells appointed HHMI Freeman Hrabowski Scholar

November 20, 2023
by Felicia Zheng

Trevor Sorrells, PhD, Assistant Professor and researcher at Yale School of Medicine, was recently named an inaugural Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI) Freeman Hrabowski Scholar. This program celebrates and supports scientists with the potential to become great leaders in their field and create a more diverse and inclusive scientific environment.

Sorrells leads his lab in the Department of Genetics centered around mosquito biology. His work primarily focuses on better understanding the neural circuits of mosquitoes and the genetic and cellular mechanisms that enable the evolution of blood feeding. Through experimentation, Sorrells and his team aim to better understand how major innovation occurs at the behavioral and cell type levels.

HHMI Freeman Hrabowski scholars are appointed to a five-year term, which is renewable for a second five-year term. Each scholar receives up to $8.6 million over 10 years, including full salary, benefits, a research budget, and scientific equipment. Sorrells aims to use this generous funding to take on ambitious projects that could be difficult to fund otherwise. The program also provides professional development opportunities to advance leadership and mentorship skills. Sorrells hopes to use this opportunity to continue his mentorship; “The flexibility afforded by this program will allow me to focus on mentorship of people in my lab and helping them to become creative, compassionate scientists.”

A major component of the motivation for creating the HHMI Freeman Hrabowski Scholars program is to “advance diversity, equity, and inclusion in academic science”, according to the Howard Hughes Medical Institute. To Dr. Sorrells, a diverse, equitable, and inclusive scientific workplace is one in which “everyone can show up as themselves, pursue their career interests, feel supported by their colleagues, and operate at their best.”. Achieving this type of workplace requires dedication in the form of time and resources from everyone, but especially leaders. Sorrells believes “respect from people in power and diverse leadership is incredibly important for creating such an environment.”

Looking forward, Sorrells is excited about the future of science, especially as new people and technologies enter the field. He looks forward to seeing the new scientific questions that will be answered because “including more types of people in the scientific enterprise will open up new questions that were not conceived by a more homogeneous group.”

Dr. Valerie Reinke, Professor and Interim Chair of Genetics at Yale School of Medicine shares the excitement in the department for this recognition, saying “I am very glad that Dr. Sorrells is being recognized for his attributes as an extremely creative scientist and generous mentor. He brings together an impactful research program with real action toward creating an inclusive environment that is deeply valued in the department”.

Submitted by Neltja Brewster on November 20, 2023