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Alumni Spotlight on Vanessa Rosa

[The faculty's] encouragement and belief in my abilities as a budding scientist really inspired me to keep pushing forward.”

Vanessa Rosa, MS

Vanessa Rosa, MS is an alumna of the MS-RSM program, Class of 2020. Her thesis research, mentored by Dr. Kelly Mayo, PhD, was focused on the role of notch signaling in ovarian granulosa cell function. Currently a research assistant at the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute, Vanessa is helping to enhancing COVID-19 testing among rural primary care offices, and African American communities in West Virginia.

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Name: Vanessa Rosa

MS-RSM Class of 2020

Thesis Mentor: Dr. Kelly Mayo, PhD

Thesis Title: Investigating the Role of Notch Signaling in Ovarian Granulosa Cell Function

 

What is your connection to the CRS community (mentor and position) and what is your current position?

I graduated from the Masters in Reproductive Science and Medicine program in 2020. During my time in the program I conducted research using molecular biology techniques in Dr. Kelly Mayo’s Lab. Since then, I have been trying to find my way back into research, and am pleased to say that I have currently accepted a position as a research assistant at the West Virginia Clinical and Translational Science Institute. 

Could you describe your current research/studies?

As a research assistant my duty primarily includes enhancing COVID-19 testing among rural primary care offices, and African American communities across West Virginia during the pandemic. This research allows us to better understand differences in infection rates, disease progression, and outcomes between various counties. The data gathered will allow us to better understand the unique needs of at-risk communities and  develop better strategies for providing  easily accessible testing across the state.

What aspect(s) of CRS did you find most valuable? 

I found Reproductive Research Updates (RRU) the most interesting because it allowed you to take a peek into what projects other reproductive labs at Northwestern were working on. In addition, it helped to solidify my understanding of concepts taught in class and be able to translate that knowledge in the laboratory setting.

What has been the most valuable aspect to your training as a reproductive scientist in CRS?

I would honestly have to say the mentorship. As someone who came into the program without research experience, I was eager to learn new skills and was able to come out of my shell with the support and guidance of the faculty in the program. Their encouragement and belief in my abilities as a budding scientist really inspired me to keep pushing forward.

What would you recommend to junior scientists in order for them succeed in their scientific careers?​

Believe in your abilities, and don’t be afraid to ask questions. Truth is you never know how many doors you can open throughout your career, and far of a connection you can make with other researchers by asking a simple question.

What do you think will be the next big contribution in the reproductive biology field?

Research has already shown the effectiveness of stem cell therapy in treating degenerative diseases and repairing damaged tissue. However, there is still much to be learned about stem cells in the context of reproduction, despite the controversy surrounding this topic. Therefore, I believe  the utilization of stem cells for infertility-related treatment and ovarian aging would be the next contribution in the reproductive biology field. This kind of research can give hope to women struggling with infertility, and help clinicians and researchers better understand the effectiveness of fertility drugs and assisted-reproductive techniques.

Do you have any notable stories from your time in CRS?

Attending the Oncofertility Consortium was definitely a highlight for me. It was amazing to see how far scientific contributions from across the nation positively impacted the lives of many individuals whose cancer diagnosis may have impaired their fertility.