From Prison to Careers in Science

From NOVA PBS Official.

In the U.S., roughly 1.5 million adults are incarcerated, the most per capita in the world. Less than 2% are enrolled in postsecondary classes.

Read more about the prison-to-STEM pipeline on NOVA:

Studies have found that educational programs can lower misconduct and violence within prison and recidivism upon release.

"When your body is actually locked inside a cage, it’s actually pretty difficult to not also allow your mind to be locked inside prison as well. Learning about diabetes was a way for me to break free from that psychological prison," says Stanley Andrisse, an endocrinologist scientist and assistant professor of physiology at Howard University. Andrisse’s nonprofit organization From Prison Cells to PhD offers education counseling, mentoring, and support to 100+ currently and formerly incarcerated people annually.

After taking classes while incarcerated and completing his sentence, Christopher Medina-Kirchner transferred into community college, eventually making his way to graduate school where he now works in a lab studying the effects of drugs on behavior and the brain.

"I just couldn’t believe it," says Medina-Kirchner about being accepted into Columbia’s PhD program in psychology. "This was a best case scenario. I had never had a best case scenario happen in my entire life until then."


Produced by: Ari Daniel & Emily Zendt
Illustrated by: Daniela Gamba
Production Assistance: Christina Couch & Christina Monnen
Advisor: Jonathan Chiu
Camera: Milan Daemgen, Riq Dilly, Kayci Lacob, JRE TV

The Pixel House
United States by Joel Wisneski from the Noun Project

Music: APM

This video was inspired by reporting supported by a grant from the Education Writers Association.

© WGBH Educational Foundation 2022