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PhD Profile: Brittany Berdy, Biology

Brittany Berdy, Biology PhD candidate and laboratory operations manager in Dr. Slava Epstein’s lab, sits down with the College of Science Graduate Program staff to talk about what it’s like to work and study at Northeastern University.

What kind of research are you working on right now?
Microbes are important for everything – from allowing our bodies to be healthy or making us sick, to impacting and maintaining the environment, to making the delicious food and drinks we love. Despite their ubiquity, we only know about a tiny fraction of what exists. My research aims to investigate and discover new bacteria and how they live and function in nature. My main focus is on studying the way in which bacteria function in a community in Northern Greenland, trying to piece together which species perform which important functions.

What do you like most about Northeastern University?
My favorite part about being at Northeastern is the opportunity to work in an environment that really advocates and fosters a sense of entrepreneurship. The University has so many opportunities for students to get involved in potential entrepreneurial roles and the faculty are incredibly supportive of students choosing paths in industry. In fact, many of the faculty have companies themselves! In a job economy where academic positions are few and far between and many of us are choosing industry, it is great to feel so supported.

Why did you choose Northeastern?
I specifically chose to come to Northeastern to work with Slava Epstein. His lab focuses on unculturable bacteria, why they are unculturable, innovate ways to culture bacteria, and how they interact. These were the exact questions I wanted answers to so the lab was a perfect fit.

What is your favorite part of Boston?
My favorite part of Boston is the Charles River or the reflecting pool by the Prudential on a warm summer night.

What advice would you give to an incoming graduate student?
Science is a really tricky field. You often fail many, many times before you succeed. I would encourage incoming graduate students to not beat themselves up over how overwhelming it will all feel the first year or two of graduate school. It gets better, and even has moments where it is REALLY rewarding!

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