Having grown up in Boston, Katherine O’Malley ’19 knew the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute well. But little did she expect that she would begin her post-graduate career there. When she first arrived at Hamilton, she only knew that she wanted to study biology.
O’Malley studied Advanced Placement Biology in high school and found it to be equally rewarding as it was challenging. Working on her thesis in college only solidified her interest in pursuing a career in this field.
“I studied the process of cell division in the gametes of corn using immunofluorescence microscopy in the genetics and molecular biology lab with (Assistant Professor of Biology) Natalie Nannas,” she said. “I knew I liked working hands-on in the lab, so I decided to look for jobs where I would do that full-time.”
Hometown: Belmont, Mass.
High School: Belmont High School
Dana-Farber occupies a top spot in the Northeast for its cancer research. In addition to its credentials, it is affiliated with Harvard Medical School. More specifically, O’Malley will be working in Dr. Pere Puigserver’s cancer biology lab, which researches the metabolic and energetic processes associated with cell function and survival.
“I will be responsible for maintaining the laboratory mouse colony, genotyping by PCR, assisting postdocs and graduate students with biochemical and molecular biology techniques, and keeping lab materials organized and stocked at all times,” she said.
Two summers ago O’Malley interned at Vertex Pharmaceuticals, a global biotechnology company that discovered and the developed the earliest medicines to treat cystic fibrosis.
“I’m very appreciative of the opportunity I had to work at Vertex, but it helped me realize that I do not want to work a 9-5 desk job right after college,” she said. “I was eager to use my biology degree and laboratory experience, especially after going through so much hard work to obtain it, so I looked for a job in a similar industry, healthcare, but with different responsibilities.”
Although she knew that she wanted to study biology, O’Malley still kept herself open to new opportunities. This mindset enabled her to become captain of the figure skating team, founder of Humans of Hamilton (an Instagram account dedicated to highlighting members of the community) for her Levitt Leadership Institute project, a digital media intern, and staff writer for The Spectator.
While O’Malley has a more guided sense of what she intends to do now, she is still open to discovering how she may dive more deeply into the field that interests her.
“I hope to learn a lot about the healthcare industry, working in a lab, and cancer research. I also hope to have a better idea of what I want to do next and if I choose to go to graduate school, what subject of biology I would like to specialize in,” she said.