Indiana University School of Medicine
One of only a few African-American women in the male-dominated field of biomedical science, Bayon is earning recognition not only for her own research, but also for her steadfast outreach to help open doors for others in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields.
Birthplace/hometown: born in Huntington, raised in Indianapolis
Education: bachelor’s in biology, Indiana University
Years with organization: 5
Getting here: Bayon traces her curiosity about medicine back to when she was 5 or 6 years old and visiting her parents’ former home in West Africa. Peeking into a hospital after hearing shrieks, she saw table after table of women giving birth. “It was ingrained in my mind,” she recalled. “How could two doctors possibly give enough time and nurturing to all of these women and the babies they brought into the world?” As a high school junior, she was doing cancer research at IU School of Medicine. After college, she spent a semester as a guest teacher in Indianapolis Public Schools and Warren Township before leaving for medical school in the West Indies. Her mother’s illness, though, led her to return. She landed a biologist position at Eli Lilly and Co., and the experience shifted her education emphasis from medicine to research.
Inspirational or transitional moment: “My mother’s battle with cancer inspired my transition from pursuing medical practice to biomedical research. … As my mother’s terminal illness progressed, I began to gain a heightened appreciation for drug discovery, clinical trials and therapeutics. … I became increasingly passionate about how treatment options come to be and make their way from bench to bedside.” She applied to a research program at IU figuring that, if she didn’t get in, she’d go back and finish medical school.
Recent professional challenge: Organizing data for her dissertation. “By sheer volume of information, it can get overwhelming, but I am handling it by making lists and rewarding myself when I get even small tasks done.”
Givebacks: Bayon serves on the boards of TechIndy School of Science & Engineering and Adult & Child Health, and is involved with the National Organization for the Professional Advancement of Black Chemists and Chemical Engineers, Indianapolis Urban League Exchange, 100 Black Men of Indianapolis Financial Literacy Program, Midwest Africa Chamber of Commerce, and Organization of Sierra Leoneans in Indiana. “It’s easy to say yes to things I feel personally connected to.”•