Dissecting a goat’s lung in eighth grade sparked an interest that began a journey to a STEM career for 2020 Nyack College alumna, Mariana Moraes. That’s when she fell in love with biology. “I was fascinated by how many cells worked together to make such a powerful organ.”
Today she is a research technician in molecular biology and microbiology at Tufts University School of Medicine in Massachusetts.
From her childhood days in Sao Paulo, Brazil and growing up in Kolkata, India, Mariana’s girlhood inquisitiveness traveled with her all the way to college in New York. “I learned about research for the first time at Nyack and my favorite thing about it is the unknown. In research, you are always learning and investigating,” she explains.
Mariana was one of Nyack’s first COVID graduates who completed her biology degree magna cum laude.
“I was in my last semester of college during the COVID outbreak, but thankfully, I only needed one more credit to graduate. I had to take several online classes with Nyack before COVID, so I felt very experienced when we had to switch over to only online studies.”
While at Nyack, Mariana was in a cohort of students involved in the SEA-PHAGES (Science Education Alliance-Phage Hunters Advancing Genomics and Evolutionary Science) program administered by the University of Pittsburgh and Howard Hughes Medical Institute (HHMI). “The SEA-PHAGES course definitely inspired my interest in research. It has changed how I view science and has piqued my curiosity about the field of microbiology/virology research.
SEA-PHAGE students study and discover new viruses or bacteriophages in soil and water samples and name the phages. Even under pandemic restrictions, Nyack students were able to participate in the annual SEA-PHAGE conference by making virtual presentations about their research.
“My time in the SEA-PHAGES program really helped me develop the skills necessary for research, which helped me secure my job at Tufts University.”
Reportedly, less than 30% of researchers worldwide are women. Equipped with her Nyack degree and now her growing experience at the world-class private research university, what’s next for Mariana? It’s no surprise that she’ll continue exploring “the unknown.”
“My ultimate goal is to learn more and contribute to our understanding and prevention of infectious diseases.”
Mariana Moraes … educated and prepared at Nyack College to serve … for such a time as this.