From RIT to Cancer Treatments: Alumni Success Story
Lauren Heese (BS ‘16) knew she loved science, specifically chemistry and biology. She also wanted to make a positive impact in the world. When Heese developed a fascination with cancer research, she wanted to learn more about the different approaches to creating the best-targeted therapies for cancer. The spark that ignited her career began while conducting undergraduate research with Dr. Hans Schmitthenner (Dr. Hans) in his Molecular Imaging Lab.
Heese learned valuable techniques from Dr. Hans on how to perform the experiments crucial to research and how to ask questions. This helped her become a critical thinker and to grow as a scientist. These techniques made her marketable and experienced enough to work at Ziopharm Oncology as an Analytical Development Associate. Ziopharm is a biopharmaceutical company focused on the discovery and development of new cancer therapies.
Attributing the opportunity to conduct undergraduate research as crucial to being successful in the sciences, Heese also felt that the lab-based classes at RIT gave her an advantage over other schools that were more focused on lectures.
“Believe it or not, I’m using the techniques I learned in my RIT labs,” said Heese.
When asked what she would tell high school students looking for a school, Heese recommends finding a school that offers multiple majors in the same field. She switched from Biochemistry to Biotechnology and Molecular Biosciences to gain more biological experience. She knew courses like Tissue Culture, Virology, and Directed Research in Developmental Biology would help build a skill set that prepared her to join labs doing ground-breaking research. The options available with RIT’s College of Science helped Heese discover the path best suited for her.
About RIT’s Biology Programs in the College of Science
RIT is the place where biology meets technology. From the start, our students work in the lab, build skills in the field, and gain real-world experience that sets them apart from their peers after graduation. Our faculty focus on the students and involve them in their research. Biology at other schools may be considered traditional, but at RIT it’s anything but. Explore the biology, biotechnology and molecular bioscience, and bioinformatics and computational biology programs at the Thomas H. Gosnell School of Life Sciences.