During her junior year at Merrimack, Gabriella worked on her first research project with Dr. LeBlanc producing a frog protein in bacteria. This experience ignited a passion for research, but she was still unsure what that meant for her future. Shortly after, she was selected to be one of the first Merrimack students to get a summer internship with Pfizer. Her internship at Pfizer, in combination with the research she was doing with Merrimack faculty, motivated her to pursue a career in biological research.
With encouragement from her professors and the scientists at Pfizer, Gabriella pursued graduate school and earned her Masters of Science in Genetics at the University of New Hampshire. In her current role at the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard, she works in the Stanley Center for Psychiatric Research in the Genome Engineering Platform. As a group, they genetically engineer human stem cells to use as models for studying neuropsychiatric research, with a focus on autism, schizophrenia, and bipolar disorder.
How did your experience at Merrimack help you as a professional?
My experience at Merrimack provided me with the hands-on practical experience required for working in a lab and a solid foundation to grow from. In addition to vital technical skills and knowledge, Merrimack taught me how to work as a team, communicate, and be a leader. I had no idea how important public speaking and teamwork would be in my professional life and I really feel that Merrimack provided me with these skills.
What is the best advice you could give current Merrimack students?
Don’t be afraid of failure. In fact, get used to failure and be really great at it. We learn so much from failure, especially in science. Without it we wouldn’t grow. Learn to look failure in the face and let it guide you to the next step.
What is your favorite Merrimack memory?
My favorite Merrimack memories were being an Orientation Leader. Being involved in Orientation gave me my amazing Orientation Leader family and sense of giving back. Some of my best friends I met through Orientation. I would give anything to be back in on campus cheering at cars with ‘Welcome Home’ signs.