All Northeastern students hope to land a co-op that lets them wrestle with real-world problems while exploring their own academic interests.
For Ella Strzegowski, that combination of hands-on engagement and intellectual curiosity has been delivered in high doses. Since mid-July, the 20-year-old bioengineering student has been working for Moderna, maker of one of several widely distributed COVID-19 vaccines, in the company’s Norwood, Massachusetts, facilities.
Strzegowski’s specific task at Moderna is part of the company’s quality control measures, which both reduce production costs and are part of federal safety requirements. She uses a technique called chromatography to examine the molecules in the messenger RNA (mRNA) vaccine solution.
Simply put, chromatography is a method of separating molecules in a mixture, which in this case is the vaccine itself. As the pharmaceutical giant continues to scale up vaccine production, Strzegowski says the work of improving the vaccine solution is important because it ensures the vaccine remains safe, on top of reducing manufacturing costs.
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Photo by Matthew Modoono/Northeastern University.