In the GradFUTURES Spotlight series, Princeton graduate students share in their own words about their experiences in one of the GradFUTURES Fellowship programs: the Community College Teaching Fellowship Program, the University Administrative Fellowship Program, or the GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellowship Program.
Noel Park is a Molecular Biology Graduate Student in the lab of Joshua Rabinowitz.
Where and when did your Fellowship take place?
I was a GradFUTURES Social Impact Fellow at TechUnitedNJ in the summer of 2021.
I am a PhD candidate in molecular biology, and my research interest lies in immuno and cancer metabolism. Specifically, I work with B cells which are a major aspect of humoral immunity. Our lab has developed a pipeline that harnesses imaging mass spectrometry to study how metabolism governs them in vivo, so tech dev has played a big role in shaping my curiosity in what other innovations are happening outside of Princeton University.
What drew you to the GradFUTURES Fellowship and this particular Fellowship?
My labmate Tianxia Xiao has worked with the same organization last year, and she highly recommended it. I am so happy to have established a lineage with TechUnited NJ! It was great to hear a close colleague go through the position while juggling full-time research and other extracurriculars, and it really helped me prepare for the added workload of the fellowship. And I echo all her positive sentiments about working with TechUnited NJ.
Can you share a bit about the Organization and the projects to which you contributed?
My main goal with TechUnited NJ was to gain exposure to startups, investors, and think tanks of New Jersey to widen my horizon on prospective careers post PhD. Aaron Price, the CEO, was very amenable and actually created a new role for me to gain insight into as many businesses as possible. I was able to research in-depth on the innovative landscape of New Jersey specifically in healthcare, biotech, and electric transportation. During that process, I also helped recruit the businesses to TechUnited NJ’s annual event Propelify, which is an innovation festival that brings together the rising businesses in the state to share their ideas and accomplishments.
How did these experiences help you?
This was my first experience interacting with people outside my academic field in a professional scope. I really enjoyed networking not only with the amazing team of TechUnited NJ, but also with businesses across many industries, including with the CEO of my very own department’s start-up! I was able to work with big data and hone my coding skills that I picked up during my Ph.D.
Can you share some reflections on the mentorship component of the Fellowship?
I connected with my mentor, Ana, every week. She always gave insightful feedback and was clear on the deliverables I were to make by the next meeting. It was an efficient weekly mentoring session, and she was also tremendously helpful in providing access to resources that I needed to facilitate my work.
Best advice for Graduate Students considering a Fellowship through GradFUTURES?
GradFUTURES is an amazing resource for graduate students looking outside of academia and provides a plethora of projects and partnerships across all disciplines. Definitely check them out now, they will support you throughout your growth through the fellowship.