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Lauren Wolfe

Undergrad: Western Washington University
Internship: The Stowers Institute
Currently at: Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center

How did you find yourself at Oregon? What about the program attracted you?

I stumbled upon the program after learning about the Industrial Internship programs for chemistry and physics from a friend. I was really excited that the program focused on hands-on experience and getting students into real-world working situations as soon as possible.

What was the intensive summer like for you?

Summer intensive was hard. Really hard. I learned almost as much about efficient google searching as I did about bioinformatics.

Where was your internship?

My internship was at the Stowers Institute in Kansas City, Missouri.

What was your internship like? What are you responsible for? What is a typical day like?

My internship was a great experience. I was the sole bioinformatics analyst in an imaging laboratory that was moving into the RNA-sequencing space. Specifically, the lab wanted to take on a single-cell RNA-sequencing project. This meant that although I was the intern, I was responsible for researching analysis methods as they emerged, building analysis pipelines and scripts, and creating figures for presentations and publications. Of course, I had plenty of help. At the Stowers Institute, I took advantage of the core bioinformatics facility members, working groups, and fellow UO graduate students when I ran into problems.

Do you feel the program prepared you for the internship? In what ways?

I feel that this program prepared me to take on problems and projects where I do not have a clear path forward without panicking. When I came to University of Oregon I had almost zero coding experience. Since then I’ve held a few different positions and worn many different hats. This skill has been incredibly important throughout my career as it’s allowed me to quickly learn and adapt as needed. I know how to seek out help via internet forums, in person, and by utilizing the ever-growing network of UO bioinformatics alums.

How did your internship prepare you for your current position/career path?

In my current position, I get to utilize the knowledge base I’ve gained from working as a wet-bench biologist, bioinformatics analyst, and software developer to inform how we build out our data science infrastructure here at Fred Hutchinson. Often times I’m talking to researchers, reading papers, looking into new technologies, and playing with datasets and tools to see how they work. While none of these tasks are directly related to my internship – the knowledge base that I gained working as an analyst in a wet-bench lab consistently informs and gives more context to the problems I’m working on solving.

Do you have any advice for prospective students?

Take risks! Apply for that grant/scholarship/hackathon! Send an email to a researcher you admire! Try a new analysis method! Write a blog post! Give a lightning talk at your local R meetup group! The more confident I get, the more I kick myself for not putting myself out there sooner. It builds your network, opens doors, and is a great way to stretch your comfort zone.