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Heather’s work not only contributed to scientific findings at BioMarin, but also was central to her master’s degree from Dominican’s innovative MS in Biological Sciences program. The research-intensive program trains students in interdisciplinary research in order to prepare them for scientific careers focused on biomedicine.
When selecting master’s programs, Heather was determined to find one with a hands-on curriculum that would enable her to spend as much time in the laboratory as in the classroom.
“I heard about the program at Dominican when searching for a competitive curriculum that would allow me to work as much in the lab as in the classroom,” Heather recalls. “When preparing for a career in research, experience in the lab, particularly at a company such as BioMarin, is just as essential as the passion and dedication required in scholarly pursuits.”
A typical day at BioMarin involved purifying human monocytes from donated blood (a four-hour process); breaking for lunch with colleagues who were both fellow Master's students and scientists at BioMarin; meeting with the research and development department or attending a seminar by a visiting scientist; returning to the lab to continue her work; and then finishing the day with a night class at Dominican.
“There were many times that the days seemed as if they would never end," she recalls. "But the work prepared me so well for a competitive career in the field of medical science, as well as for what is ahead of me as a Ph.D. student.”
In the fall, Heather will begin work on her Ph.D. in the Interdisciplinary Program in Biomedical Sciences at the University of Florida College of Medicine. She credits her work at BioMarin for helping give her an edge over other candidates when being selected to receive a highly competitive Graduate Research Assistantship Scholarship. The full scholarship, which is awarded to fewer than two percent of all applicants, covers her tuition during her time with the program, along with a competitive salary and health insurance and other benefits.
“I am as excited about my future with the University of Florida as I am grateful for the training that I have received through the program at Dominican, without which I would never have proven to be such a competitive candidate,” she says. “I worked with an absolutely wonderful, supportive and incredibly passionate group of people who, over the last year and a half, have truly become my family away from home. It is very rare to work with a group that both challenges and supports you on a daily basis.”