Chicago Field Museum scientist who died of COVID-19 served as inspiration to many, coworkers say

CHICAGO (WLS) -- COVID-19 has claimed the life of a scientist at Chicago's Field Museum.

Lynika Strozier, a 35-year-old researcher for the Field Museum's Pritzker DNA Lab, died of coronavirus just days after getting sick. Her death comes as a shock to coworkers.

"It's so tragic on many levels," said Pritzker DNA Lab Manager Kevin Feldheim. "She touched so many lives in the Field Museum and everywhere she went."

Well known at the museum for her smile and hard work, Strozier started in the lab as an intern in 2009 and worked her way up.

Diagnosed with a learning disability as a child, Strozier was determined to become a scientist.

"Lynika is the perfect example of, you try at something hard enough, you can be a success. She went from overcoming her learning disability, ending up getting two master's simultaneously," Feldheim said.

"She had to overcome a lot to achieve what she did," said coworker Erica Zahnle. "She had to take statistics, genetics, chemistry and calculus and she powered through it all."

Lynika's coworkers said she took her position as a role model very seriously, especially in a field with very few African American women.

"Having Lynika in the lab was really inspirational for young African Americans to come to the museum and look at the lab and someone like them doing this kind of research," Feldheim said.

One of Lynika's goals was to become a biology instructor. She landed her dream job before her death.

"She was just starting to see the fruits of her hard work when her life was taken," Zahnle said. "It's tragic because there was so much more she was capable of doing."

Her coworkers at the Field Museum started a GoFundMe page, not only to cover funeral expenses but to raise funds for a scholarship that would provide STEM opportunities for young African American women.
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