Nouran Abdelfattah, ‘13

Hometown: Cairo, Egypt

Degree: BS, Chemistry and Biochemistry

Why did you choose to attend WPI?
I chose WPI because of its friendly and welcoming community that I felt during my first overnight visit as part of the Women Programs. I saw that the grading system at WPI allowed students not to be exceedingly competitive; instead students here are willing to help each other, building a very close-knit community. Another major factor was the WPI curriculum, which allows me to become a very competitive applicant to medical school through its fast-paced seven-week course load, and the project system, which allows me to apply what I have learned in class to real-life applications.

How has WPI’s philosophy of Theory and Practice, and working with teams, been beneficial to you during your time at WPI?
I believe that WPI's motto, Lehr und Kunst (Theory and Practice) is the drive behind the success of many WPI students after they graduate and face the real world. Through my project experiences and teamwork here at WPI, I found that knowledge alone does not allow me to experience the excitement of a scientific inquiry, but through application and practice in a laboratory setting, I am able to see its importance in the real world. Because of my project experiences at WPI, I was able to participate in internships at Biogen IDEC, as well as at institutions such as the Broad Institute of MIT and Harvard and Harvard Medical School.

What do you think are WPI’s greatest strengths?
WPI is a research-oriented school, with many opportunities for students to participate in ongoing projects. I am also proud to be a part of a very friendly and supportive community, where professors go the extra mile to make sure their students succeed at WPI.

How have the professors in your department impacted your studies and your life?
The first class I took at WPI was Cell Biology with Professor David Adams. At this time I was still deciding between a life sciences major or a Biomedical Engineering degree. But his enthusiasm and excitement about the subject did not allow me to think twice about my major. From the first class, I was immediately drawn into the subject, and I had the desire and curiosity to gain more knowledge and ask more questions. He has taught me how to think scientifically and how to analyze and understand data. He has also been a great advisor and has helped me in everything from class selection to summer internship positions. I have always tried to apply the passion I have gained in his classes into all of my courses and experiences here at WPI.

What are your research projects?
I am currently working in Professor Reeta Prusty Rao's lab, aiming to identify host and virulence factors involved in fungal pathogenesis. I first got to meet Reeta when I took her Advanced Molecular Genetics course. In her first lecture, she made everyone feel welcome by getting to know each student in her classroom. I immediately felt in love with the course and asked her if I could participate in her research program. Since then, she has served as a great mentor and guidance for me and has taught me how to apply the concepts I learned in class into real-life applications, where I could impact the world around me. Not only has she provided me with help on career options, but she has also been a great source of motivation and inspiration in my WPI experience.

What do you hope to do when you graduate? What would be your ideal job?
After graduation, I hope to attend medical school, where I can use the knowledge I have gained from WPI to impact my community on another level. My ideal job is to have the clinical side and patient contact but also participate in translational research.

Groups or extracurricular activities you participate in at WPI:

  • Peer Learning Assistant in the BBT and CBC Departments
  • Student Government Association, Senator on the Committee on Academic Issues
  • Mu Sigma Delta/Pre-Health Society
  • Alpha Phi Omega National Co-Ed Community Service Fraternity
  • Engineers Without Borders

Academic or professional awards you have received:

  • Harvard Stem Cell Institute Research Fellowship
  • Biogen IDEC Community Lab Scholarship
  • POLYED Undergraduate Award in Organic Chemistry
  • Charles O. Thompson Scholar with Honorable Mention
  • WPI's Dean List

Additional comments you would like to include:
WPI has been a great experience and a huge positive impact on my life!


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