Katy Maina '15

Hometown: West Newbury, Massachusetts
Education: University of Southern California Class of 2019, Cornell University Class of 2023
Major/areas of study: BS in Neuroscience from USC, Project Management Certificate from Cornell University
Occupation: Project Manager, Brain Aging and Dementia Lab at Massachusetts General Hospital

Did you complete an especially meaningful internship, work, study abroad, or service experience? 
I joined an MRI research team at Children's Hospital Los Angeles for over two years at USC; I prepped and processed MRI images for analysis. We examined how radiation from specific brain cancer treatment can change a child's quality of life (vocab retention, depression, social skills). While I enjoyed my work, I knew I wanted wet lab experience (which includes testing and analysis of physical samples). After college, I worked in a neuro micro lab at UCLA, developing a diagnostic technique for Alzheimer's disease. There, I learned about scientific project management and fell in love with it. I managed several projects and loved seeing the start of each one, getting it set up, and helping people optimize workflows to streamline the work. 

I returned to Boston from UCLA as a program/project manager at a clinical Alzheimer's disease research lab at Massachusetts General Hospital. I now manage several different clinical studies and trials. We work in MRI research, so I am back where I started in some ways. My next step is to move into the industry and manage clinical trials in neurodegeneration in a small startup company. 

Do you have any advice for first-year college students?
Get involved in clubs! It’s how you will make friends. Most people are looking to make friends, and the first few weeks of school are the perfect time to do it. Go to the club events and try new things! Don't be shy about asking for internships. No college freshman will know what they are doing in a lab, which is okay. Professors don't expect you to know what to do when they hire you. Now, being on the other side of the hiring process, when I hire interns, I am looking for people who are motivated, excited about the research, and can communicate well. Even if they have some background in our work, I will likely have to train them on our specific techniques from the start all the same.