Undergrad: Seattle University, Seattle, WA – Biology
Internship: Pacific Northwest National Lab (PNNL)
Current Job Title: New Graduate Physician Assistant at Stanford School of Medicine
What was your undergraduate institution?
Seattle University, Seattle, WA.
How did you find yourself at Oregon? What about the program attracted you?
I studied biology in undergrad and was looking for a program that would allow me to learn biology-related skills that would be directly applicable to the job market of health and human-related research. I loved the idea of a period of intensive learning and then an opportunity to apply what you learned at an internship. I also liked the flexibility of the program; that your internship could be miles away from Eugene but you would still be a part of the program because classes were accepted from various institutions. Seattle U is on the smaller side of universities, so being a student at a larger University that had a well-established, rich research community was attractive. The program at Oregon had all of these things!
What was the intensive summer like for you?
A time of immense learning! We learned programming basics, wet lab protocols and statistics and most importantly learned how they related to each other in terms of bioinformatics. The summer laid a great foundation on which more learning could happen. We had excellent professors and were very well supported throughout.
Where was your internship?
I was at Pacific Northwest National Lab in Richland, WA. This is a federally funded institution primarily associated with energy research, although there were groups doing disease research as well.
What was your internship like? What are you responsible for? What is a typical day like?
My internship largely took place at a computer. It consisted of consulting with the principle investigator who was supervising me, and then working on sequencing data analyses or small coding projects that could contribute to the overall research goals of the group. I improved my programming skills in R and Python, and ran my own analysis on bacteria RNAseq data.
Did you feel the program prepared you for the internship? In what ways?
Yes, I learned actual skills that were directly applicable to my internship: like coding, statistics and an understanding of data types in the field. Most importantly, the program gave me the broad understanding of the field of bioinformatics and the various directions in which it is heading. This really is a burgeoning field, with so many opportunities.
How did your internship prepare you for your current position and career path?
Because of the training I received in the UO program and at my internship, I got a job at Oregon Health Science University as a Senior Research Assistant in the department of Biomedical Engineering. Daily, I use scripting languages and command line programs to perform analyses that guide wet lab scientists to the next steps in their research. Through my internship, I learned what the “world of science” for an employee (rather than a student) is like, from grant writing, to research presentations, to producing results as a group. I was better prepared for my current job because of this.