Graduate Student Experience Spotlight: Valery Trujillo, MS in Cell & Gene Therapies

What is your major, and when are you graduating?  

I am majoring in Cell and Gene Therapies, with plans to graduate in April 2025.

Why did you decide to enroll at Northeastern University and pursue an advanced degree in Cell & Gene Therapies?   

My undergraduate degree is in Biotechnology Engineering, and my passions have always been Genetics, Stem Cells, and Regenerative Medicine. I have always been passionate about studying something that helps others, especially coping with diseases without cures. Therefore, I looked for a master’s degree with which I could achieve it and chose something that contained what I liked and my goal. With that, in my search, I found Northeastern, and I applied, hoping to achieve it. I investigated the university and saw that it was one of the best. 

Tell us about your experience in the program. 

So far, I have received subjects that I have liked a lot. I have met people from different areas and gained new knowledge. Some of the subjects were very challenging, but I was able to cope with them. 

What is/was your favorite part of the program, and why?  

My favorite part, and the one I am looking forward to, is to be able to enter a lab and learn techniques that I like and new knowledge; my favorite class was Stem Cells and Regeneration; the motivation of the professor and the topics given were very interesting. 

Did a COS faculty or staff member help you excel in this program?   

I have not met many people from COS, but the ones I have met have helped me when I have had questions, especially Suzzette Turnbull; since I joined the program, she has helped me with the inscription in my classes, and whenever I have had doubts, she has solved them. 

What are your post-graduation plans?   

After graduating, I would like to find a job in what I like, especially where I can help people. I would also like to pursue studies, possibly a Ph.D. 

Tell us about your work experiences. 

I worked as a Teaching Assistant at the University of San Francisco of Quito. My activities were: helped students with General Biology, General Genetics, Genetics, and Bioinformatics classes with explanations of homework, assignments, and class topics. Assisted the teacher with correcting assignments and exams, giving feedback to students, and providing partial reports to the teacher on student development. I also worked as an Intern in a Microbiological and Chemical Laboratory called Neoquim Cia Ltda, Quito, Ecuador. My activities included developing GPMs for all standard fertilizer production processes and microbiological cultures of bacteria and fungi to standardize processes within the company. Handling standard microbiological culture tests such as seeding and cultivating bacteria and fungi and verifying their quality. Production of bacterial and fungal fertilizers, as well as verification of the quality of the product before and after a week of delivery by measuring its bacterial and fungal concentration. Researched new bacteria and fungi to develop new products and see their qualities and functions for the environment. Monitored laboratory supplies to make orders for low-stock items. Cleaned and maintained equipment to achieve optimum performance. 

Do you have any advice for students (both grad and undergrad) pursuing Cell & Gene Therapies? 

Take advantage of each of the classes, as they include very valuable topics. They all teach something new that could help us decide what type of industry we would like to be in in the future. Do not give up even though it seems that we do not know, and do not put limits.