Meet Angela She, MS '08
Possessing passion for what you do while maintaining focus and an open mind are driving factors for 2008 Milken Scholar Angela She.
Angela fell in love with chemistry early on, "The way molecular interactions could fundamentally change the nature of these compounds was magical to me." She put this sense of wonder to work and the magic soon became insight into nature itself, "I became intrigued at how nature's processes can inspire us to create new chemistry."
She discovered the inspiration to pursue her future career path by participating in National Science Bowl events as a member of North Hollywood High School's nationally recognized Highly Gifted Magnet team. Through competing in the "Jeopardy"- style events in which teams solve problems on topics ranging from physics to biology, Angela developed confidence and leadership skills that would aid her in the rigorous academic years to come.
Following high school, Angela attended Yale, where she graduated Phi Beta Kappa in 2012 with a B.S. in Intensive Chemistry, all while staying strongly involved in the Asian-American and dance communities.
She was awarded the National Science Foundation's prestigious and highly competitive Graduate Research Fellowship to continue her work at Harvard in the Chemical Biology Ph.D. program. Her research focuses on small molecule probe and drug development toward currently incurable diseases.
Using skin samples of patients with neurodegenerative and psychiatric disorders, Angela is working to develop a relevant human model to better probe disease origins and help create drugs to find appropriate disease targets. Often, a lack of realistic models that mimic the complications of a disease within human biology is a hindrance in creating effective treatments.
This fascinating way in which the body works and interacts with external factors is what drew Angela to pursue a career in medical research.
"'How things work' was never as important to me as 'what can I do with it,'" Angela remarks. "There are these new amazing technologies that can be used to probe body systems that can help us learn more about diseases and how to treat them."
During her 2011 internship with the Prostate Cancer Foundation she learned about the strides being made toward developing a cure for cancer – it no longer seemed like an unattainable goal to her. What she learned in terms of the biology of cancer was also transformative in her decision to study translational science and medicine.
Instilling a love for science and serving as a role model for younger students has also been a priority for Angela. As an undergrad, she tutored elementary school children in science and was an editor for the Journal for Emerging Investigators, which publishes original research in the biological and physical sciences written by middle and high school students.
She now works with a Harvard graduate student organization called Science in the News with the mission of making research science accessible to the public.
Angela is also serving as an alumni volunteer for the National Science Bowl – the program that helped to spark her love of chemistry back in high school. When she's not in the lab, Angela enjoys dance, theater and is learning how to play the ukulele. She has even taken to running novelty 5K races.
When it comes to her philosophy on life, she takes inspiration from the pages of her favorite childhood novel, "A Wrinkle in Time," in which the author compares life to a sonnet: "You're given the form, but you have to write the sonnet yourself. What you say is completely up to you."
"There are an infinite number of beautiful ways in which you can tell your story," Angela has said, and by compounding her qualities with inspiration and determination, she will impact the stories of countless others; a positive charge for this Lifelong Leader for a Better World.