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Latest articles from the Geeky Girl Reality Blog

1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Denisse Vega Ocasio, I am a Global Health and Infectious Disease researcher originally from the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I completed my undergraduate training in Cellular and Molecular Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras Campus. Following that, I completed my Master’s Degree in Public Health and Health Policy in Philadelphia from the University of Sciences. I am currently a PhD candidate of the Translational Biomedical Sciences graduate program at the University of Rochester. My thesis project studies how social and biological distress can influence an individual’s ability to mount an effective immune response toward arboviral infection in communities in Ecuador. The experiences I have acquired through the years have allowed me to work efficiently with individuals of multiple cultural and scientific backgrounds. Furthermore, these interdisciplinary experiences have granted me the opportunity to apply basic science and global public health to my research methods. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? Let me share with you a little bit of my journey. First, I never thought I was going to end in this career path. Originally I wanted to become a doctor in medicine. It wasn't until my third year of college when I was exposed to research and community outreach (Thank you Ana-Rita Mayol!) that I became interested in research and even more passionate about science outreach and mentoring. There was something about sharing science and working directly with community members that caught my attention and inexplicably made me eager to explore other career options. So in my last year of college, after taking the MCAT, I decided to pause my original plan and last minute I applied to a Master degree in Public Health (Yes, my parents freaked out lol). I got accepted and moved to Philadelphia, I applied to every opportunity available that would reduce my tuition fee, and I immerse myself in every opportunity that came my way. Over the next three years I fell in love with population sciences, global health and health policy. I moved to Denmark to complete an internship at the World Health Organization and at this point, with the multiple opportunities I had to engage, I understood the importance of combining basic sciences with population health and how significant these skills were in science. I was finally passionate about my work and confident about what career path I wanted to take, which led me to pursue a doctoral degree in Translational Biomedical Sciences. Without a doubt, the uncertainty and the multiple roads to get here have been the most exciting part of this adventure. I share my experience with you because I think it is important to understand that everyone has a different career path. Some paths are more linear or traditional, some others look like mine. Do not compare yourself with others, and trust yourself enough to know that non-traditional scientific paths are equally important and valuable. If you are still exploring career options, I want you to know that it is OK to change your mind multiple times and to give yourself permission to explore. I did it, I continue doing it, and I don't regret it. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? Honestly, I would not be able to get out of bed without a strong cup of Puerto Rican coffee! But once I am finally awake I find a great deal of joy in what I do. Therefore, in those cold, dark mornings I get motivated by thinking about the communities that I work with that have always made me feel as part of their family. I also really enjoy mentoring and advising other students interested in a career in global health and infectious diseases and promoting more latina representation in the field. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Emotional self-care! However that looks for you. Throughout my academic journey I have learned to implement healthy boundaries into my routine. I make sure to take time for myself, my friends and to continue doing things I enjoy (watch a movie, grab coffee with a friend, or grab a glass of wine). Applying these behaviors as part of my routine has helped tremendously in managing stress. Furthermore it has resulted in more productivity and improved quality of work in a shorter amount of time. By no means am I saying that I have mastered mitigating stress - rejections and “failure” are part of the scientific path - but it is important to continue learning about what causes my stress and when to take a step back. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I have many role models and each of them have inspired me at different levels. On a personal level my family has always been my support. I was blessed in my family with a big group of strong amazing women (and my awesome Dad!) who taught me kindness, hard work and perseverance. I try to remember that without them I would not be flying today. They all are my biggest role models, and each day, independently of how difficult things can be back home, their resilience continues to inspire me tremendously. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I would tell myself to practice taking time off without feeling guilty and go easy on myself . Make sure you are enjoying every step on the way and the people around you. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Tip #1: ALWAYS, ALWAYS, ALWAYS, remember your roots! Be proud of who you are, where you come from, and never stop being your authentic self. Diversity is beautiful and we belong in science. Tip #2: Explore! There are multiple pathways that can lead you to your goals. Science is not a linear approach and building your career shouldn't be any different. Being open to opportunities will expose you to a more interdisciplinary training that might uncover hidden talents you didn't know you had. Apply to every internship, programs, and opportunity. Believe in yourself! Tip #3: Don’t be afraid to stand up for yourself. 8. How do you measure your success? This is a tough question since success can’t be measured by one definite standard, but I would say for me success is measured by feeling joyful about my work and being able to share my experiences and ideas with others. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? I am happy to chat more about what I do. You can email me: denisse_vegaocasio@urmc.rochester.edu 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? You can find me on Twitter ( @den_veg5 ). Feel free to write!
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? Hello! My name is Emma Fattori and I’m a front-end developer that works at Q4 Inc - a tech company focused on Investor Relations products. Our office is based in Toronto, but I work out of the Hamilton office. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? It took awhile for me to get to this point, but I’m so glad that I put in the work. After attending university, I worked for various digital Marketing agencies around Toronto in Account Management and Program Management roles. I realized around 2018 that I knew I wouldn’t be able to do this long term, and that I would need to make a career change. Having worked with developers in the past, I started to become interested in what their job entailed. I started to learn HTML on my own at home, and then was introduced to tech Bootcamps that were available in Toronto by my brother. I looked into them and decided to take a night class for a few months to see if I really liked development. After finishing the part-time class, I realized that I really loved to code, and I applied to Juno College’s full-time immersive Bootcamp and got accepted! I took another javascript course before the bootcamp to prepare myself, and I finished the bootcamp in December 2019. It was really difficult to make the switch, but happy to say that I started my dream job at Q4 in early Feb 2020! 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? I’m still pretty new, so I’m having to figure out new solutions to bugs and different issues every day. On top of that, the people I work with are incredible and the company cares deeply about their employees. I’ve felt welcomed and included since the day I started. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I think this is something I’m having to practice more now more than ever, since I’m working from home as a result of COVID-19. I’ve been going running when I can, and listening to music really loud at home when I get stressed out. When I’m at work, I usually go for a walk outside - it’s crazy how much this can help when you can’t figure out some code. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? My dad started his own business years ago when my brother was little, and I think it’s really admirable. Because of him, I’d like to start freelancing as soon as possible and eventually start my own business once I have enough experience. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I’d say that life isn’t always going to be outlined like you thought it would. You’re never too old to do something, and hard days will always be there but you really can get through it. My hardest days pushed me to do the things I want to do, like go back to school, backpack for 4 months, move cities, etc. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Have a few friends in your field that can support you. I have a group chat with three people from school and we’re constantly talking about coding problems, days that we struggled, and even recipes! Your field of choice doesn’t have to be your entire life. I struggled with thinking that if I didn’t code 24 hours a day, then I wasn’t really dedicated. It’s healthy to have other things you like to do. Listen to your gut and stick to your values. It was tempting for me to take any job that would hire me when I finished school, but I wanted a company that treated it’s employees well. 8. How do you measure your success? I measure my success by how I’m moving forward and learning. If I can look back and see improvements, new processes, or ways that I’ve figured out solutions then I consider it a win. I also measure success by how happy I am in the work I’m producing. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? You can find my personal website at www.emmafattori.com ! 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Absolutely - I would love to speak with anyone that has questions or is looking to chat. I’m very open and would love the chance to encourage anyone to enter a STEM field. Instagram: @fattori.el Facebook: Emma Lynn LinkedIn: https://www.linkedin.com/in/emma-fattori-30aa2273/ Twitter: @emmafattori
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? Hi! My name is Monica Vidaurri, and I am an astrobiologist and policy and ethics specialist. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? It was an incredibly roundabout way to arrive here! I have always been fascinated with astrobiology (even before I knew the word for it!) and space science. However, as I grew up, I realized that there were issues with science that I wanted to fix. I realized that 1. there has to be someone representing and advocating for science in the policy world, and 2. there has to be changes to the internal politics of science that make it more inclusive, ethical, and accessible; science is not very kind to kids that grew up like I did, and it can even do great harm. So, I double-majored in biology and government and international politics, with a concentration in law, philosophy, and governance. About halfway into my bachelor’s studies at the University of North Texas, I accepted an internship position at the United States Senate as part of a DC intern experience program. This was for the policy side of my degree path. I absolutely loved it! In fact, I enjoyed my time in DC so much that I decided to stay there. That internship experience allowed me to take advantage of many different contract/consulting positions: Mentor Foundation USA, the American Chemical Society, various government agencies and another branch of government. I did all sorts of jobs from administrative things, to science and science policy, to defense and ethics. I eventually landed at NASA, where I was finally able to combine my science and policy sides. It’s been a dream come true. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? The people I do this with, the people I do this for, and the people that got me here. Not in the sense that I’ll let them down if I don’t continue, because that’s stressful. But I think about them in the sense that they want me to succeed, and that they’ve got my back/motivate me every step of the way. But I honestly love my jobs, as it combines my two passions. So sometimes what motivates me is the things I get to do on a daily basis! 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I like to think about the grandness of the universe during tough times. Not just in the sense that the Earth is just a small speck of dust, and that my problems are infinitely tiny in the grand scale of things, but I think it’s important to remember how lucky it is to be human. We are made of the same things stars are made of. And all these processes that we study – from supernova to galaxy formation to solar systems forming – had been going on for billions of years before we came about. They all came together in the way they did, our planet formed the way it did, and everything came about just at the right moment and the right place so that we can live. We’re walking stardust, and even though our human timescale is insignificant compared to that of the universe, the fact that we were able to steal a fleeting moment to observe the awesome universe we exist in is probably the greatest privilege I can think of. What a privilege it is to be human, and to share this perfect little planet with other walking stardust! It’s not really the fact that our world and our problems are so small that we shouldn’t care. It’s that we are alive, despite all the odds, to see all of this, to try to understand this great universe, and to spend this incredibly short time with one another; walking evidence of the grandeur of the universe. Light carries on into the vastness of the universe forever. You might have heard that when you look up at the night sky, those stars may be dead. But how wonderful it is that that star’s light, and its story, will continue for eternity. That means our light will continue forever, as well. And if some other civilization is able to see our light, and see our stories, I wouldn’t want them to see me feeling down on things that will pass! I would want to tell the best story that I possibly can. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I have lots of role models! Lots of people whose pages I want to steal from their book, so to speak. Ellen Ochoa, the first Latina in space (also a musician like me!) who is resilient and level-headed, my advisor who is so selfless and empathetic, my students who are always curious and excited about life no matter what, Carl Sagan and his ability to see the best in humans, and many, many others. But while it is important to model the aspects of the people you look up to the most, it’s also important to remember that you are not a copy. I don’t aspire to be the next Carl Sagan or the mini version of my advisor – I want to be the first Monica Vidaurri! But I want to learn from the people I look up to, and make it a part of who I am. My role models are people who model characteristics I want to embody. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? I would tell her that it’s going to get so, so much better. That she is going to grow up into the person she needed all her life. I would tell her that her dreams aren’t “too much” – that someday she’s going to find a job that lets her pursue all of them. That everything she’s feeling right now, and all those dark spots after dark spots are going to be outshined thousands of times over; she just has to be patient. But honestly – I think my younger self already kinda knew these things deep down. That’s why I’m here now, after all! So I would tell her to hang on to that: the idea that she is clinging to that everything is going to be alright, that she will find a family in an exciting new place, and that she is going to make it no matter what. I would tell her to keep looking to the stars for comfort; one day, she will find a purpose amongst them. I’d then advise her against wearing those bright-colored plaid bermuda shorts that were so popular in the 2000s. What the heck was that? Then I’d tell her to stop straightening her hair every day because her curls are going to turn out really beautiful if she takes care of them! 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Be soft. Be kind and empathetic in a cutthroat field that has created this culture of working insane hours, getting to an idea first, and racking up as many accomplishments and papers as early as possible. To continue to wear your heart on your sleeve, to love and look out for others despite this, is to be soft. To fully understand the scariness of the world and to still be kind is to be truly strong. And practicing kindness and collaboration will get rid of these outdated principles. Be the one to lead that change. Be the light. Stand up for yourself, and stand up for others. If you notice people are being talked over, call it out. If you feel like your grade was unfair (sometimes teachers make mistakes!), challenge it. Systems, institutions, and rules are meant to be changed – take the lead. Other people will for sure feel the same way you do. Raise hell always! Never, ever doubt your abilities. Imposter syndrome affects us all, and it is perfectly normal to feel inadequate. Recognize these feelings, but never give in to them. If you feel like you don’t know as much about a subject as you should, think back to all the accomplishments you’ve made in that subject. Teach something from your field or your subject to someone else to prove how much you know! I promise, you are right where you need to be. You are stronger than you seem and smarter than you know. I guarantee it. 8. How do you measure your success? I don’t! Well, I do want to be successful in two ways: I want to leave my mark on the field of astrobiology, I want scientists to recognize the social enterprise that science is and pay more attention to ethics and policy, , and I want to make science and academia more accessible and inclusive. Those are all very broad and very ongoing things. But often what I’ve found in the STEM fields is that there can be an unnecessary amount of pressure on students and even senior researchers to publish a whole lot or be some sort of prodigal genius. The way I see it, if I go to work every day and am able to answer a few questions, leave with many more questions, and do at least one task that is paving the way for people of all backgrounds to do science and for science to be more ethical and just, then I am exactly where I need to be. I do set goals for myself, and I think goal-setting is important: go to X, Y, and Z conferences, publish a paper, make a new collaboration, etc. And I make sure those goals challenge me. But I recognize success as something that I’m going to be building all my life, and as long as I’m on that track, I feel successful. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? I’m very early in my career so I haven’t published a lot yet, but keep an eye out on arXiv, which is where I post pre-prints of my work, and twitter, where I announce my projects! 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Yes! My twitter is public. You can find me at @AstroTraviesa  
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is CharleneRivera-Bonet and I was born and raised in the beautiful island of Puerto Rico. I completed my bachelor’s in Biology at the University of Puerto Rico, Cayey and am currently a graduate student in Neuroscience at the University of Wisconsin, Madison. I work in a laboratory that uses Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) as a tool to study the brain. Basically, it is a huge magnet that makes images of the brain and allows us to study it in great detail. I use those images to study depression in people with epilepsy. Epilepsy and depression, when you think about their symptoms- seizures and profound sadness, respectively- sound like two very different disorders, but neurologically speaking, they are fairly similar. Often times they co-exist. People with epilepsy often experience depression which can be a reaction to living with the condition or induced by changes in the brain. In my research, I use MRIimages to look at how changes in brainconnections relate to depression in people with epilepsy. I enjoy doing science, but I also like talking and writing about science. In addition to my PhD in Neuroscience I am getting a PhD minor in Life Science Communication so I can learn how to communicate science effectively. I also help lead my program’s outreach committee, through which we visit schools and science festivals to talk to students about the brain and careers in STEM. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? I owned a tiny microscope growing up. It was a little kit that had some slides with different kinds of threads. Some were “make your own” so I could put anything I wanted on it and observe it under my tiny microscope. I think I have liked science since I was very young but didn’t really know what I could do with it. It wasn’t until I started college that I got to use a real microscope, and I was mind blown. It was also in college that I learned what a scientist was, and I decided to become one. I took advantage of all the opportunities that came my way. I was part of a research program called the Research Initiative for Scientific Enhancement (RISE), I did summer research at different universities in the United States and went to conferences for underrepresented minorities. All of these experiences prepared me to go to graduate school. I explored many different areas in science such as plant genomics, toxicology, microbiology, and neuroscience, andI fell in love with the brain. I decided to pursue a PhD in neuroscience to learn more about our fascinating nervous system. In graduate school, I have made connections with researchers from different scientific backgrounds that have allowed me to shape my research in a way that combines different interest: the brain, epilepsy and mental health. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? There are many things that make me excited to go to work! I think the one that motivates me the most is contributing to the understanding of mental illness in order to identify better interventions and to reduce the stigma around it. I am a big believer that mental health matters, and that it is as important as physical health. Helping people understand the value of good mental health is a big motivator for me. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? Every Tuesday night, no matter how much work or studying I have to get done, I play volleyball with a big group of friends. All it takes is a few hours of running around and hitting a volleyball to relieve some stress. It has always been easy for me to get lost in my work or books. Growing up, my mom would ask me to stop studying and go to soccer practice because I needed to do something that would get my mind off school. I am forever grateful to her for doing that. Now it is a priority for me to make some time to have fun. Sometimes I go play volleyball, or dance some Salsa, or simply spend some down time with friends. Those little moments give me the energy to do well at work. You have to be well in order to do your job well. Taking care of your mental health through healthy activities you enjoy will ultimately help you perform better at work. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? I have had different role models at different stages of my career. Currently, I look up two women that seek to make science more accessible to all. Dr. Giovanna Guerrero-Medina and Dr. Mónica Feliú-Mójer. Together, they lead a fellowship I am currently a part of called Yale Ciencia Academy which provides professional development tools to underrepresented minorities in science. In addition, they lead a non-profit organization called CienciaPR, which seeks to advance science education in Puerto Rico. Science education and communication, particularly to underrepresented minorities is something I am passionate about. Dr. Guerrero-Medina and Dr. Feliú-Mójer’s passion to make science available and accessible to all communities is one to admire and learn from. Their ability to bring their background and culture to inform their work is something I aim to learn. Where you come from and the experiences you have lived can inform the way you do science and the way you communicate science, and I am learning to do so from Mónica and Giovanna. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? If I could go back in time, I would tell myself: “Have more confidence in yourself. Trust that you belong here, even when you fail. You will fail many times.Don’t let those failures define you but use them to grow into the scientist you want to become.” 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Tip #1: Good opportunities might seem scary sometimes, take them anyways. Working in a new lab, presenting science to a crowd, learning new techniques, among many others. You grow when you step out of your comfort zone. Tip #2: Sometimes you will feel like you don’t belong here, don’t listen to those thoughts. Don’t think you need to stop being your true self in order to fit in. Tip #3: Taking care of your mental health is important; life is not all about work. Have some fun outside of work too. 8. How do you measure your success? Success looks different to everyone and that’s a really important thing to keep in mind. Never try to compare your success to other’s! There are three things that are important to me when thinking about what success looks like: 1) I want to make a positive contribution to my field, 2) inspire the people around me, and 3) be happy and enjoy the work I do. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? You can find more about my work in my LinkedIn profile: https://www.linkedin.com/in/riveracharlene/ My resume/curriculum vitae (CV) is attached, so you can take a look at the opportunities I’ve had throughout my career and please feel free to reach out and ask me about them! 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Science is meant to be shared and social media is great for that! You can find me on Twitter ( @charlenerbonet ), and LinkedIn ( https://www.linkedin.com/in/riveracharlene/ ), or you can email me at riverabonet@wisc.edu .
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Rebecca Hayes. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh in August 2018 with a B.S in Biological Sciences with a Chemistry Minor and have been working there since as a research technician in the Ashman Lab. I worked on developing an undergraduate level lab curriculum that explores the floral microbiome and flower UV patterns that has been taken by hundreds of students already, as well as conducting independent research during the pilot study. I am also currently interning with the National Aviary in Pittsburgh, PA in their Conservation Education Program. There I assist in writing informal educational programming for all ages, creating educational games and crafts for special events, and spend time telling visitors all about the amazing birds that live there. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? As a kid, my mom loved to do diy science experiments in our kitchen with me and my sister, which I think inspired my love for sciences throughout school. When I was around 6, apparently I told my parents that I wanted to be a “discoverer” when I grew up, so I think research was a natural path for me. It was always my favorite subject, so I was excited to study biology in college. I learned I loved plants through taking care of lots of houseplants in my college dorm room, but have always had a fascination with birds since I was really young. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? For my research job, it’s definitely the thrill of each day being something new. Throughout college, I spent my weekends waitressing at a diner and felt that the days would blur together with the only change being new breakfast specials. Working in research, however, always provides new opportunities for discovery, new techniques to learn, and new collaborations to foster. For my education internship, it’s the chance to inspire the public to ignite their own passion for science and nature. Having sincere one-on-one interactions helps people change their minds more than cold-hard facts alone even if it’s the same information, so getting to talk to people about important conservation ideas and actions feels like I can really make a change. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I love to craft when I’m most stressed. I’ve been doing embroidery since I was a freshman in high school, and I still work on projects several times a week. The repetitive motions are great to take my mind off of things that are bothering me, and it’s awesome to be able to have a beautiful end product especially when experiments aren’t working or I’m experiencing writer’s block and feel like I’ll never be able to finish anything. As far as raising my spirits in times of doubt, I always hang on to papers and project rubrics that I scored a good grade on to look at when I feel inadequate and remind myself of past success. Also, I always keep an updated resume so I can see on paper all of my accomplishments. 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? Rachel Carson. She trained as a biologist in Pittsburgh and later started an environmental movement against the use of the pesticide DDT after writing Silent Spring that was the driving force in saving countless species from extinction. She proves that a single dedicated person can change the world, no matter how unlikely. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? Don’t sell yourself short. Throughout high school and even into my early college years my fear of failure or not being good enough kept me from applying to competitive programs and grants. Now, I realize that there’s no reason I couldn’t be chosen for something prestigious and it doesn’t hurt to apply and give it a shot. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Apply for anything you’re interested in, no matter the odds. Ask questions often. There is no such thing as a stupid question; asking questions means that you want to learn and that reflects greatly on you as a scientist. Don’t feel like you have to fit a certain stereotype to make it in STEM. Every kind of person can be a scientist and still find success. 8. How do you measure your success? I measure my success through the new things and skills that I learn. I feel lucky to be in the field that I’m in because there are infinite opportunities for learning. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? I write about plant science for Plantae.org under username Rah107. I also write, host, and produce a plant science podcast called Stories Plantarum about fabulous fictional flora from sci-fi and fantasy and real life plants that seem out of this world. You can listen on soundcloud, Apple Podcasts, or Spotify. 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Follow my twitter account @BigGirlPlants
1. Introduce yourself, who are you what do you do? My name is Ester Alvarez-Benedicto and I was born and raised in Puerto Rico. Obtained my BS in Chemistry from the University of Puerto Rico, Rio Piedras in 2018. I am currently living in Dallas while I get my PhD in Cancer Biology at UT Southwestern Medical Center. 2. How did you arrive at this career (or point in your life/work)? Was it always something you knew you wanted to do? I graduated High School without knowing what a PhD was and without any idea science could be a career, let alone that I could be a scientist. I was never exposed to research until my junior year in undergrad. I took the Organic Chemistry course as a sophomore and it was life changing. After this class, I applied to my very first summer research internship and got rejected for lack of experience. So I decided to reach out to as many faculty as I could and got involved in research at my institution during my junior year. The next summer I re-applied for several internships and I got most of them! It was those experiences that convinced me that science could be a career and that I could be a scientist if I was willing to put in the work. 3. What about your job makes you jump out of bed in the morning, especially on those cold, dark mornings? It really helps to remind myself that I have the potential to make today better than yesterday, I just have to get up and keep trying. 4. What is your personal cure for stress or how do you raise your spirits in times of doubt? Can you share a Story? I try to spend some time outside of the lab with my friends, either on a hike, a yoga class or at a restaurant (we are scientists, but also foodies). Sometimes all I need is an afternoon and a chat with a friend to give you perspective and remind you that you are so much more than your doubts.” And I should say: “give me perspective and remind me that I am so much more than my doubts.” 5. Who is your role model? If no one, any thoughts on this? My undergraduate mentor, Christian Morales Guzman PhD. He was the graduate student that taught me everything I know, encouraged me to consider a career as a scientist, and believed that I could accomplish anything I wanted. 6. What advice would you give to yourself if you could go back in time? Don’t let fear prevent you from taking a chance. Don’t be afraid of rejections and making mistakes. Apply to all the summer programs, research programs, fellowships, and graduate schools you have in mind and then some more. And more importantly, enjoy every minute of it; it’s the journey not the destination. 7. Top 3 tips for girls starting out in STEM? Get involved in research as soon as you can, either at your home institution or at summer programs. Present your work at national conferences. It's a great opportunity to learn about science and many universities/companies recruit students/employees. Apply to anything and everything. It will only increase your chances of getting acceptances and you will gain a lot of experience from the rejections. 8. How do you measure your success? This one is tricky. I try to compare me to myself from a few months before. It also helps to make a realistic list of goals to accomplish per week, month and semester. I absolutely recommend not comparing yourself to fellow students. It's not a very accurate method since each student and project are completely different. More importantly, it can be very slippery slope into stress and anxiety. 9. Where can we find out more about your work? The lab I am part of has a website  that anyone can check out. I also have a twitter account . 10. Are you social? Will you share your Twitter handle, or LinkedIn profile, or Facebook so that young women can connect with you? Not a social butterfly but definitely approachable! You can contact me through my twitter account  or through Linkedin .
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