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Grace Wickerson

Rice University

Materials Science and Nanoengineering

They/Them/Theirs and She/Her/Hers


Growing up in a conservative Christian household, Grace struggled to come to terms with their sexuality as well as their gender identity. As a result of this isolation and disconnection, Grace was driven to dedicate themselves to efforts that address systemic injustices. In 2013, they started Kickin’ Violence, a nationally recognized nonprofit that sought to inspire youth to engage in non-violence advocacy through education, service, and martial arts. Over five years, their work impacted the lives of +5000 young people and raised $800,000 for survivors of interpersonal violence. For their work with Kickin’ Violence, Grace has been recognized with the Girl Scout Gold Award, the National Jefferson Award for Peace and Justice, and was a HerCampus 22 under 22 honoree. They attended Rice University, where they received a BS in Materials Science and Engineering. They became deeply involved in advocacy within the Rice and Houston communities, serving as Student Body President and co-chairing the Mayor of Houston’s Higher Education Student Leadership Alliance. Through this work, they helped establish a multi-million-dollar sustainability initiative, expanded institutional support for diversity and inclusion efforts, ensured a community benefits agreement for university-led developments, and organized +160 student body presidents across the country to rally for P/F grading and expansion of tele-health services. They are now pursuing their PhD at Northwestern University in Materials Science and Engineering as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow. Their research focuses on therapeutic medical devices that safely dissolve in the body after use. They are passionate about re-tooling engineering design and leveraging science policy to serve the public good, and have written on this for outlets like Scientific American. Recently, Grace co-founded Heal Our Future (, a mobilizing effort that uses policy, innovation and technology development, community-organizing, and organizational-capacity-building to imagining a more equitable health system.

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