I’m in Drs. Lisa Barroilhet and Manish Patankar’s lab as part of the Cellular and Molecular Pathology program. My thesis project studies the effects of oxidative phosphorylation (OXPHOS) inhibition in solid tumors, including ovarian cancer and melanoma. I am particularly interested in characterizing the effects of OXPHOS-inhibitors on tumor immunogenicity to explore their potential as combination agents for immunotherapies

What is your education/career background? 

I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Cellular and Molecular Biology from the University of Puerto Rico, Río Piedras campus, before starting the MD/PhD program. As an undergraduate, I obtained research experience at my home institution as part of the NIH-funded Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) program and through summer research programs. Through these experiences, I uncovered an interest in cancer biology and gained insight into a career as a physician-scientist

How have you navigated a career in STEM as a woman/underrepresented minority? 

Through a lot of trial and error. I haven’t had a blueprint to follow, but I have been fortunate to have encountered incredible mentors who have encouraged and guided me throughout this journey. I have learned to embrace the unknown and to ask for help when needed

What advice do you have for women/underrepresented groups pursuing an education/career in STEM? 

  1. Seek opportunities that will allow you to explore your interests and acquire new knowledge and skills even if it’s outside of your comfort zone.
  2. Sometimes it can be difficult to see something as possible just because it hasn’t been done or because you don’t feel capable, but don’t be the one to tell yourself “no.” Don’t limit or discount yourself. Believe in yourself even when it’s hard.
  3. Find something that keeps you grounded and that motivates you toward your goal and do it as often as you can.

What do you enjoy most about your career/current role? 

I love how dynamic my day-to-day is, that I am constantly learning and challenging myself, and that I get to interact with different people in a variety of roles and stages of life

What does diversity, inclusivity, and equity look like to you in your job sector? How do you incorporate DEI in your position? 

DEI work takes so many forms in academia. I’ve tried to get involved in different areas, such as in recruitment through my program’s admissions committee and mentorship through my involvement in the Latino Medical Student Association and the MSTP’s Summer Scholars program. I am also motivated to make the spaces that I work in more welcoming and inclusive, which has led me to be part of and give input to the UW Carbone Cancer Center’s Trainee Network and the Diverse Workforce and Equity Transformation Committee. In addition, it is important to keep our communities at the forefront of our work, and I am able to do that through my work with the Latino Health Council. Lastly, sometimes this work can look like taking care of ourselves

What is your favorite way to unwind? 

I find joy in cooking and eating a good meal. I also enjoy being active in any way I can