Student Experience
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Kathryn Echandia-Monroe – Molecular, Cell and Developmental Biology and Cognitive Science Majors, Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) scholar

What lab are you a part of, and what kind of research do you do?

I am a part of the Vaske lab. Our lab is committed to researching ways of improving the treatment and diagnosis of pediatric cancers through using RNA-sequencing analysis. My research specifically, is working on analyzing the gene expression of a rare form of cancer called Gliosarcoma, to understand how this aggressive cancer metastasizes.

How did you find out about STEM Diversity, and how has your participation in the programs impacted your academic experience?

I found out about STEM Diversity when I was working as a peer advisor at the Career Center. Around the time the applications were due, there was an influx of resumes that were being sent in for peer review that all mentioned they were applying for STEM Diversity, and the program peaked my interest.

At the time, I was interested in pursuing research, however I knew it was not possible for me to keep my part time job and work in the lab simultaneously. Upon acceptance to the STEM Diversity programs, not only have I received enough financial support to not worry about working an extra job, but it has also introduced me to a vast community of undergraduates who are also in the same courses as me, allowing me to form study groups to support my learning.

What accomplishment(s) are you most proud of from your time at UC Santa Cruz?

My greatest accomplishment from my time at UC Santa Cruz has been making the decision to pursue my passion in Cancer research. Because of the MARC programs support, I have been able to attend multiple conferences, work part-time in a lab, receive strong mentorship, and build a diverse network of other researchers that have the same passions as I do, in making the world a better place.

In addition, this program has given me the drive to push myself out of my comfort zone, and partake in research projects at other institutions, something that I would have never imagined for myself previously.

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