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W&L Outcomes: Lauren Shelby ’23 Lauren Shelby ’23 will be pursuing her master’s degree at New York University.

LaurenShelby_sRGB-scaled-600x400 W&L Outcomes: Lauren Shelby ’23

Post-grad plans: Graduate school at New York University
Areas of study: Biology, data science

What will you be doing after graduation?
I will be getting my Master of Science in biology at New York University (NYU) in New York City.

How did your career plans evolve over the course of your time at W&L?
I always knew I loved science, so I initially thought I wanted to be Pre-Med. As I navigated through the biology major at W&L and met students and professors with unique paths and backgrounds, I discovered that I wanted to focus more on research in the molecular biology/genetics space.

What internships or other summer experiences did you partake in and how did those experiences shape you and your career plans?
I was awarded the Two-Year Research Fellowship in the winter of my freshman year, so I participated in two summers of full-time research in two different labs at Washington & Lee. The summer after my freshman year, I worked virtually in Professor Jon Erickson’s lab in the engineering department creating confidence algorithms to filter raw data from a new method of colonic wave motility detection. The summer after my sophomore year, I worked in Professor Gregg Whitworth’s lab on campus identifying genes of interest using RNA-seq data gathered from rats with diet-induced obesity in the 2014 Jeffress Grant study. The summer after my junior year I had an internship at the National Institutes of Health in the National Institute of Diabetes, Digestive, and Kidney Disorders to work in the lab of Andy Golden, a senior investigator at NIDDK. There I gained experience using C. elegans as a genetic model for human disease.

How did the Office of Career and Professional Development support you and which resources did you find most helpful?
Molly Steele was incredibly helpful in guiding me towards different opportunities and helping me perfect my materials.

What did you study at W&L and what are some skills or learnings you will take from your academic experience into the professional world?
I was a biology major, which exposed me to many transferable lab techniques in cell/developmental and genetics/molecular biology. This, along with presentation and discussion skills, made me a great applicant for graduate school. I was also a data science minor, which has exposed me to many coding languages, including Python and R, which are extremely marketable skills for future employers.

Who or what has inspired you along the way?
I would not have had the ambition to apply to graduate school straight from college without the constant support and pushing from my professors, particularly Professor Fiona Watson, who stopped me in the hallway one day and told me I should go for it, and Professor Gregg Whitworth, who was my advisor for all four years. I love the size of the Biology Department because I have grown very close with my professors over my time at W&L.

Did you connect with alumni during your career development process?
Absolutely, I feel like the importance of networking is not emphasized enough in the sciences and it has been so imperative for my career development. Through connecting with alums, I have gained valuable advice to successfully navigate the internship and graduate school application processes.

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