Lila Fakharzadeh PhD'20, Neuroscience: Computational Biologist, RCH Solutions
Can you describe your career path and how it has led to your current work?
I became interested in the sciences/math in late middle school/high school. At Wellesley, I majored in Neuroscience, but took a handful of physics and programming classes, as well. After taking my first programming class in Java, I realized that I enjoyed it and continued taking more throughout my college career. I decided in my sophomore year that I was more interested in research than medical school and decided to do a PhD in neuroscience after I graduated, which I recently completed at Brandeis. I am now a computational biologist at RCH Solutions working with the Precision Oncology group at Sanofi where I use machine learning models to analyze flow cytometry, single-cell, and cite-seq data.
What services and/or resources did you use while at Brandeis for your career search?
During my last two years I took advantage of the resources provided by the Center for Career and Professional Development (CCPD) at Brandeis. I was in frequent contact with Marika McCann , who helped me tremendously when I was applying for internships and jobs. She reviewed my resumes and cover letters when I applied for various positions and was very encouraging during periods when I didn’t hear back from companies.
What skills from your Brandeis degree have you found most valuable in your current work?
My PhD really taught me how to be persistent and organized, which I think are skills that are needed in the sciences. In research, there are many times when experiments don’t work or the results don’t come out as expected, and persistence is key. I was also able to design my own experiments and analyze large datasets in Matlab which greatly strengthened my programming skills. Learning how to collaborate and work with others on projects is another valuable skill that I learned during my PhD career.
What advice do you have for current students as they embark on their job search?
I highly advise that you start applying early (maybe a year before you graduate) for jobs. I also highly recommend doing internships, as you get a sense of the pace of industry work.