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Uma Mahajan ’18

Uma Mahajan 

Where are you from? 

Union City, California (suburb in San Francisco Bay Area)

What is your major? 

Systems Biology (BS)

Why did you choose to study this subject? 

Systems Biology combines two subjects I am fascinated by, biology/medicine and technology/computational sciences. As a high schooler, I always wanted to become a physician because of my interest in science and passion for giving back to people. At the same time I was very quantitatively minded and loved math/programming, and this major very well fit my interests. Much of the major classes are about using computational methods to answer biological questions, which I find super cool.

What is your favorite class/faculty member, and why? 

There are several classes that I’ve particularly enjoyed and learned new skills in; one of which is a class I’m currently TAing- BIOL/EBME 300, Dynamics of Biological Systems: A Quantitative Introduction to Biology taught by Dr. Hillel Chiel. The class was definitely one of the most work-intensive classes I’ve taken at Case, but I learned so much about creating models for biological phenomena; for my term paper I analyzed neuron burster activity in an eye movement disorder called congenital nystagmus.

Why did you choose CWRU? 

Coming from California, I was leaving my family and friends for the unfamiliar, but was excited for new experiences. I chose Case because of its strong research caliber, the friendly nature of Cleveland, and also because it gave me the opportunity to earn a combined bachelors/MD in its PPSP program.

What do you like best about CWRU? 

I like that there is an incredible number of opportunities for students. CWRU is the right size where there are enough diverse opportunities- be it research, work, extracurricular activities, volunteering, or clubs- that students can find something that fits them, and individualize it to their interests.

What research projects, study abroad, internship or other unique experiences and opportunities have you had as a result of being a CWRU student?

For the past two years I’ve done research in a genetics lab at the med school (Dr. Wynshaw-Boris’s lab) growing cerebral organoids (colloquially known as “mini-brains”) to study the development of autism (featured here http://case.edu/think/fall2017/expanding-minds.html#.Wm5L20qnHb0). The experience was my first wet-lab research experience and taught me first-hand about the experimental process and also genetic neurobiology. I also had the opportunity to go abroad last May to Amsterdam, to study physician assisted suicide as part of a bioethics course in which I got to not only explore Dutch culture and several beautiful countryside cities, but also change my perspective on some legal and moral issues. Freshman year, I spent my Saturday mornings volunteering with geriatric patients at risk for dementia and delirium at UH, providing interventions to help combat their risk.

What extracurricular activities are you involved in? 

My perhaps favorite organization is WISER (Women in Science and Engineering Roundtable) in which I’m on exec board as the Professional Externship Coordinator. We help to promote the mentorship, outreach, and success of women in STEMM through monthly GB meetings and lots of fun activities.

What are some of your interest and hobbies? 

I love staying active through hiking and other outdoor activities; I also like yoga, exploring new places, and reading.

What would you consider to be your biggest accomplishment so far? 

Coming to college by myself and creating a home and life I love here is something I’m proud of. I’ve had my fair share of challenges at Case- whether that be by a professor or peer- but in turn I’ve grown a lot, been humbled and made resilient, and taught to consider what I actually value.

Where do you see yourself in five years? 

Hopefully finishing medical school at CWRU and then heading to medical residency.

Page last modified: September 13, 2018