Jessica Stark

NIH Postdoctoral Fellow, Stanford University

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Science is a creative process that benefits significantly from new ideas and perspectives. Being different and thinking differently is powerful!

WHAT DO YOU DO?

I am an engineer working to understand how the immune system distinguishes between healthy and diseased cells based on the sugars on their surfaces. This research promises to lead to new ways to treat or prevent infections, cancer, and autoimmune disease.

WHY DID YOU CHOOSE THIS FIELD?

One of my friends growing up was autistic, so I was introduced to biological disorders at a young age. As soon as I could understand the underlying biology, I became fascinated by how molecular events can cause human disease. I wanted to discover new therapies to treat disease, but didn’t know of a career that would allow me to do so. Then, I learned about the Human Papilloma Virus (HPV) vaccine Gardasil in my high school biology class. Gardasil contains engineered virus-like particles that use structural components from HPV to generate immunity against the virus, but do not contain viral genetic material, and so are not infectious. I realized a career in engineering would allow me to design and develop therapies to address unmet medical needs. My desire to work at the interface of engineering and biology to treat human disease has driven my career thus far and continues to motivate my future goals.

WHAT DO YOU LOOK AT & THINK, "I WISH YOUNGER ME WOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WAS POSSIBLE?"

I co-developed kits for running hands-on biology experiments that are now being sold commercially and used to enhance biology education in hundreds of classrooms nationwide (mybiobits.org). I am so excited to have been able to create a resource that enables the next generation of scientists and engineers to engage with biology.

WHY DO YOU LOVE WORKING IN STEM?

I am a lifelong learner. Working in STEM, you're always learning because your job is to create new knowledge and sharing it with the world. Every day is new and surprising because you never know what you will discover!

BEST ADVICE FOR NEXT GENERATION?

Science is a creative process that benefits significantly from new ideas and perspectives. Being different and thinking differently is powerful!

INSPO / FUN FACT

"Science is not a boy's game, it's not a girl's game. It's everyone's game. It's about where we are and where we're going." -Nichelle Nichols

NOMINATE A WOMAN IN STEM

For multiple nominations, email hi@1mwis.com

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