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iGEM Student Spotlight: Rachel Petherbridge

Class of 2019

Major: Biomedical Engineering

Hometown: Garner, North Carolina

Rachel says she was never interested in science until middle school, when her science teacher, Mr. Combs, forced her to participate in the science fair. As it would turn out, she placed second in the state and was set to continue on to regionals. This experience put her on the path to pursue science in high school and, eventually, college.

During high school, she worked at a synthetic biology and a biomedical science internship.

“I got into [the field] when I was 17 and just kind of stayed,” she says.

At Boston University, Rachel enjoys the engineering program because of the welcoming community.

“All the engineers are really tight knit because we suffer together,” she says with a laugh. Everyone is willing to help each other, which is especially useful when trying to learn the wide range of material taught in the program.

She was first introduced to iGEM through her friend Jeffrey (also in the program and profiled here), and from her high school internship with BU engineering professor Mo Khalil.

This summer, she is excited to “do some really good science with good people.” She is particularly interested in the human practices component of iGEM, how it applies outside the lab and how to make synthetic biology accessible for people who aren’t scientists.

10 years from now, Rachel sees herself in a residency working towards her MDPhD. She says she is inspired to work hard by her mother, who got her doctorate while raising two children.

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Sponsored by National Science Foundation’s Expeditions in Computing Program

(Awards #1522074 / 1521925 / 1521759).