Author: Conner Allen

Juliana Feng is a 2021 bachelor’s graduate in materials science and engineering. Read her career update and advice for recent graduates below.

What have you been up to since graduation? How did your experience at Hopkins inspire you to pursue this path?

I’m a rising fourth-year MD-PhD student at Northwestern University Feinberg School of Medicine. This seems very fancy, but it just means I’m starting my second year of PhD studies next fall; I’m advised by Prof. Julius Lucks within Northwestern’s Center for Synthetic Biology, and I work on interfacing synthetic biology biosensors with colloidal materials.  

I didn’t really know what I wanted to do when I graduated from high school, or for a good chunk of my time in college, but I’m lucky that I found people at Hopkins who helped me find my way. I worked in Dr. Kathryn Wagner’s lab at the Kennedy Krieger Institute for most of my time as an undergraduate, and Dr. Wagner helped me get to the point of even conceptualizing the possibility of becoming a physician-scientist. Dr. Orla Wilson wrote me amazing letters of recommendation that helped me discover synthetic biology at summer opportunities away from Hopkins, and my senior thesis in the Mao lab helped me realize that biomaterials research was something I was interested in.  

Being part of a 15-person materials cohort at Hopkins taught me that I am happiest in smaller, tight-knit communities, and that’s how I transitioned so easily into being part of a 14-person MD/PhD cohort. I also just met some of the most wonderful, supportive peers at Hopkins, and their drive and ambition inspired me to chase my own career dreams.

What do you miss about your time at JHU MatSci?

I miss having lunch with friends at Levering, working on homework in Brody A-level, and getting ice cream at the Charmery. I also miss the stuffed French toast at Miss Shirley’s and the paneer at Mount Everest in Hampden.  (I have lots of great ice cream, brunch, and Nepalese food in Chicago, but it’s something about the memories made at those places!). I also miss talking to Orla and the general sense of home in Maryland Hall.  

Do you have any advice for 2024 graduates?

Your materials science friends can be forever! My closest MatSci friends at Hopkins were Lillie and Cristina, who now work in the pharmaceuticals and medical devices industries. We have totally different interests, hobbies, and job descriptions and have lived across 3 separate states for 3 years now, but we still get together for a standing Zoom meeting once every two weeks. Keep these friends close!