The science community really is a small world. Nick Watkins and Rocío Mercado met years ago in chemistry lab at at the University of California, Berkeley. Mercado mentored Watkins when she was a graduate student instructor and he was a second semester undergrad. While they have remained in close contact since, it wasn’t until they were contacted for this story that they realized they shared something in common: They are both Amgen Scholars who participated in the program at Caltech, years apart.
At the U.S. Amgen Scholars symposium at UCLA in July, an unexpected reunion occurred. When Janielle Cuala took the stage to explain her summer research at Caltech, Kristina Folta couldn’t believe her eyes: It was a friend of hers from Guam with whom she played rugby. “I was so excited to see someone else coming out of Guam and entering the STEM field,” Folta recalls.
An essay by Nicola Peill-Moelter (Caltech PhD ’97), Director of Sustainability Innovation at VMware.
There is a popular, long-held notion that business and the environment are at odds. That conservation is a fight against capitalism and its rabid thirst for profits is at the expense of the environment. That commerce is an unstoppable force that must be reined in for the sake of the future of the planet.
In high school, Marvin Gee was fortunate to get a jump start on his research career, working at the National Cancer Institute. Cancer had been a personal interest of his because of the death of his uncle who battled with the disease. His early exposure to bioscience research helped him realize that biology is like a complicated puzzle. It all eventually fits together to make perfect sense.
In July, at the U.S. symposium, six Amgen Scholars shared what they love about science. From the power of energy to the magic of molecules, these students share their unique perspectives on what drives their research.
For new Amgen Scholars thinking about the next 10 years, it might feel nearly impossible to imagine where they’ll be. Perhaps their research will lead them to academia, perhaps a biotech startup, perhaps policy – the options may feel endless. This unpredictability resonates for one alumna who was part of the first cohort of the Amgen Scholars program in 2007 and took an unexpected trajectory to where she is now.
My mom is a scientist. She carried out microbiology research as a graduate student, and later as a postdoc, for most of my upbringing. I would go to the lab with her, and I also remember working intensely on school science projects. I liked microbiology, but I ultimately became interested in neuroscience because some of my relatives had conditions that affected the brain.
Massachusetts Institute of Technology 2008 Scholar Megan Krench is one of those who has acted as a mentor, taking on two Amgen Scholars during her time as a doctoral student at MIT. “I had a really positive experience with the Amgen Scholars Program, and I wanted to give back to the Program. It was a nice opportunity to show my appreciation,” says Megan, who expected to graduate with a PhD in brain and cognitive sciences in February 2016.