Voices of the Future: Insights from ISHI’s Student Ambassadors

In this engaging interview, Ann MacPhetridge of Promega, sits down with the 2023 ISHI Student Ambassadors to discuss their experiences and research in forensic science. The ambassadors, coming from diverse backgrounds and universities, share their excitement and insights from attending workshops and connecting with professionals at the ISHI conference. They delve into their individual research projects, covering topics such as DNA methylation for distinguishing monozygotic twins, alternative methods for sexual assault evidence analysis, and new approaches for identifying body fluids in forensic samples. The conversation also touches on their aspirations, the importance of continuous learning, and the value of attending conferences for networking and staying abreast of advancements in the field. The interview concludes with personal reflections, advice for future forensic scientists, and lighter moments discussing favorite karaoke songs and leisure activities, showcasing the ambassadors’ dedication and passion for forensic science.


We’re searching for our next group of Student Ambassadors to join us in San Antonio. Applications are due May 5, 2024. For more information on how you can apply:  https://www.ishinews.com/student-resources/.




Ann: Good morning. My name is Ann MacPhetridge and I am a senior Global Commercialization Manager with Promega, and I have the very good fortune to be sitting down with this year’s ISHI Student Ambassadors. Welcome! I’m so happy you guys are here. This is just fantastic. So, for the audience out here, let’s see. We’ve got Cassie and Julia and Kayli and Beighley. So welcome. This couldn’t be any more confusing for somebody my age, but I promise I’ll work on getting it right. So, we’re so excited to have you here. Your applications were outstanding. I mean, it was a no brainer for us to choose you guys. So, thank you so much. My first question is how is it going? Somebody want to tell me what the week spent so far?


Beighley: I guess I can go first. Sure. I’ve heard a lot of things from Towson University last year. One of the ambassadors was Noelle, and she’s one of our good friends, and she had so many great things to say. So now that we’re here and experiencing it, she was totally right. And it is exceeding all expectations. And I’m having such a blast with, um, all the people we brought from Towson and our professors and our director and also our new best friends from Sam Houston and the other ISHI ambassadors. So, it is a really fantastic week.


Ann: Excellent. Yeah. So, you two are from Towson? No. Oh. Okay. I’ve got it. Okay. Towson. Sam. Houston. Perfect. Excellent. Anybody else? How’s your experience been? People been friendly and really welcoming.


Julia: You know, this was my first time attending any workshops at ISHI. And that very, like, kind of familiar environment made a lot of, like, built a lot of new relationships. And like Beighley said, it was like seeing people that wanted to connect with you and kind of build this community and forensic DNA. So, it felt really nice.


Ann: Great.


Cassie: Yeah, we attended the Forensic Investigative Genetic Genealogy workshop and that was interactive. And you got to like, work with the people at your table. And so that was great because we were all beginners. At least I was so like, we all helped each other out. It was great for meeting people and everybody was so helpful.


Ann: Yeah, that is one of my favorite things about this issue meeting. I know I’m part of the organizing committee, so I’m probably a little biased. That’s probably not out of the question, but I’ve been to a lot of meetings in my lifetime, and this conference is really collaborative, really inclusive in terms of you can walk up to a total stranger and they don’t look at you like you have a third eye and, you know, you can ask questions.


You know, I can remember one of our first student ambassadors; she wanted to interview John Butler. And like I, I jokingly refer to him as the Tom Hanks of the forensics field. Right. Because he’s such a nice guy. But he was like, yeah, no, no worries, I love it. Right? And here’s a guy who’s been published, you know, dozens and dozens of times. He’s written multiple editions of his book. I mean, and so for her, as a student, to be able to have that opportunity, I was really so pleased for her. So, let’s jump in and talk about your work. So, we’ll start with you, Cassie, tell me what your poster is about.


Cassie: So, my poster is on discriminating monozygotic twins with DNA methylation. So basically, in forensic laboratories in the DNA part they do STR typing as a standard method. And that way cannot really differentiate between twins because they come from the same zygote. So, we’re trying to find a different way of doing that so that they can be differentiated in the lab. So, we’ve decided on DNA methylation, which is basically just throughout their lifetime based on their environment and epigenetics. Differences in certain markers or certain genes get more methylated than others. And previous studies, when we were researching and trying to figure out which markers to use, they basically landed on this one paper that had six. That said they were very different, different between the twins. We landed on that six and so far, we have done two. Another student before me did the one, and then I took over the project since he graduated, and I sequenced the second one. So basically, for that I just extracted, quanted, and then I bisulfite treated which basically changes the methylated cytosines and they stay cytosine, but the unmethylated become thymine throughout the chemical reaction. So then when we sequence it the pyro mark q48, basically the program determines the number of thymines versus cytosines to determine the methylation. And then there were five CPG sites, which is like a cytosine guanine. And then there was four on the other ones. So, there was a total of nine. And at every single one of those sites, we compared the methylation for every twin. And so far, six of the 13 pairs were differentiated with that method. Yeah, it was very promising.


Ann: Yeah. That’s terrific okay, I love that. How about you, Julia?


Julia: Sure. My dissertation is in finding alternatives to sexual assault evidence analysis. So, this year, for my poster, I brought a little taste of one of my phases, which is looking at what we’re calling the sexome. So, this is the vaginal and penile microbiomes, the end goal being that for crime labs, when they get sexual assault kits and there is no sperm in the evidence, they kind of have to stop. But in this case, with the microbiome, you don’t need to rely on the presence of spermatozoa. So, this is some of our initial proof of concept work to say these extraction kits work for vaginal and penile microbiomes. Of course, the vaginal microbiome has been studied pretty extensively for clinical and diagnostic work. Not so much for the penile microbiome. So, we’re kind of establishing a little bit of the proof of concept. And also, in both mock community like cell libraries that you can buy as well as from real volunteer donors. And we’ve seen that, yes, we can, you know, extract successfully microbiomes and sequence them, but also that the penile microbiome is pretty unique to our donors that we’ve seen so far. So, this is some good promise like that we will be able to keep on expanding this work and then maybe one day it’ll reach the crime lab.


Ann: Oh, that’s terrific. Yeah. That continues to be a challenge for the crime laboratory. So, to be able to work on something that might actually, you know, five years, whatever the timeline is, give them another resource. I mean, we all heard Julie Wile’s presentation yesterday, and you saw how important it is to give them… I don’t think they ever get closure, but, you know, give them some, you know, feeling of, okay, I can move, I’m able to move forward. So that would be really fabulous. So, fingers crossed for both of you, your work as well. I love epigenetics. It was something that I looked on in my pre genetic identity life. So terrific. All right, Beighley, let’s hear from you. Tell me about your poster.


Beighley: Good thing you like epigenetics, because that includes in my research as well. Yeah, so not to dog on serology too much, but it does have its disadvantages with body fluids. You know, if we want to test, depending on what is in our substance, you have to go through multiple tests and you’re using more of your sample. That could be very limited from the start. Additionally, there’s not confirmatory testing for saliva or vaginal fluids. So that is also a problem. So, with multiple disadvantages, we wanted to find a method that could overcome these drawbacks and be able to determine which body fluid is in a single source and a mixture sample. So, we use PCR high resolution melt or PCR HRM. So, after the amplification essentially HRM means it’s gradually increasing in temperature and it’s forcing the DNA to become single stranded, denature because of the heat. And the epigenetics come in because we are bisulfite treating our body fluids. And like Cassie was mentioning, this is where the methylated region stays the Cs. So, we have Cs and G pockets and depending the amount of Cs and Gs and body fluid is correlates with the temperature at which it melts during the HRM process. And this is how we can tell the different body fluids apart. So, I was really excited because I successfully could have a unique melt profile for all four body fluids. I did blood, semen, saliva, and bachelor fluid, and then we did two combination mixtures, and each one had its own unique melt profile that correlated to the single source samples as well. And so that was really exciting. And now that that’s promising, I’m excited to go back to the lab and start doing some more like three four mixtures and see what we can get.


Ann: Excellent. Yeah. Mixtures also tend to be one of those things that are… You know, every time we see a mixture interpretation workshop, you know, those of us in marketing are like, oh my god.


But, you know, they sell out. People are, you know, it’s just one of these challenges that, you know, there’s no real ideal solution. So, anything that we can do that helps strengthen what the laboratories are trying to do is terrific. So awesome sauce. All right. Last but not least.


Kayli: So, my dissertation is kind of a wide variety of kind of things. But I’m focusing on collection and also different extraction methods for different types of low template samples. So, especially in this project for my poster, we worked with a lot of different sample types. We worked with bones. So, that was surface buried and surface decomposed remains, touch samples, fired cartridge casings and also hair, nails and teeth from decomposed cadavers. So, the overall goal of my project this past year was testing out the HID Nimbus Presto system. So, this is kind of a newerish instrument that’s available, and it combines the Thermo Fisher KingFisher Presto, which is, you know, the automatic… It has the magnetic rods that are able to help purify your DNA. And it also combines the Hamilton Nimbus automated liquid handler tool. So, the idea with this is that you can do 96 samples in 90 minutes. So that sounds like a dream for a lot of analysts. So obviously people have been using this for maybe reference samples. Awesome. But with these challenging forensic samples, they wanted to know, can we do it? And is it comparable to manual methods? So within this program it also has scripts for PrepFiler and PrepFiler BTA. So that’s what I did with all of the samples I just mentioned, and also did it in parallel with manual comparison, just to make sure that it is comparable. So, after we put everything on the instruments and quantified everything, and we looked at their quant results and also the STR profiles between the two and overall that we saw was that both the DNA yield and also the STR recovery was pretty comparable between the two. So that was good news, especially with bones. I think obviously some bones are going to work better with manual because you’re able to remove those inhibitors manually. But I mean, you can ask anyone, would you rather put them on the instrument or manual? So, it was a fun time to put it on the instrument.


Ann: Excellent. Well, that is great news. Yeah. Somebody who spent a lot of years manually pipetting, I totally dig automation. I have a very soft spot for automation because.


Kayli: It’s a lot easier.


Ann: It is. And, you know, honestly, especially casework laboratories right now, I mean they’re getting inundated with samples. So, anything you can do to speed up the process is going to be welcomed in the lab. So, I hope the good results continue. So, all right, I’m going to ask an individual question. And I’m going to start with Julia. What’s your dream job look like?


Julia: Oh man. Okay. It’s tough to ask a fourth year PhD what any dream looks like.


Ann: You’re not sleeping, right?


Julia: I think my dream job. I feel like there are a lot of PhD students that have this sentiment where it’s, I don’t totally want to leave the research because being on the cutting edge, seeing all the new and exciting stuff, the robots, the different techniques come to life, that’s always going to be very dear to me. But I also want to see and help the crime lab in real time. Put my knowledge, my efforts, my skills there so the dream job would have maybe both so that the research could really benefit what the crime lab needs, and that the crime lab could have all of the tools from research, because that’s not always tied 1 to 1. Being that bridge, I think that’s the dream.


Ann: No, I totally get that. Yeah. There are some laboratories who have the resources and the staff where they actually have a dedicated R&D group who are working on that, but the vast majority are just trying to hang on to their analysts and keep working through. But those jobs are out there. So, I got my fingers crossed for you.


Absolutely. So, let’s see, how about you, Beighley, what advice do you have for future forensic scientists? What advice do you give yourself as you’re looking to become a forensic scientist?


Beighley: I think just being open to just… Like all the knowledge… I’m right now doing an internship at Maryland State Police and I get to just observe all the analysts and what they’re doing. And we do learn so much in school, but being able to see it in action has been really exciting, and I’m learning a lot. So just reminding myself to keep my brain open and just be a sponge and soak it all in because, you know, we are new and we don’t know everything. So, getting into this field, but also it’s really exciting because forensics is changing a lot with all the automation and with, you know, FIGG is becoming really big and some really new things. So, it’s exciting being a new analyst soon. So, hopefully kind of just keep bringing like new technology and just improving forensics.


Ann: Excellent. How about you, Cassie?


Cassie: I think an important thing is to keep up with the constant advancements. Like there’s constantly things changing, not even with just the science, but like with the testimony. We attended a lunch talk and like, it was very interesting to hear about how they changed things. Like they’re like, do not say the word match. That is what I learned. And then like also yeah, the automation, FIGG. Like what she said you have to like keep up with it. Which was like so cool to see that people are trying or like are basically because there’s so many workshops that’s constantly and that’s why it’s so important. So, I would I guess another piece of advice is to attend conferences like this. If you ever get the opportunity, because one for networking and two, you hear about what’s going on. Because at Towson, we have two, three professors and they’re always keeping us up. But it’s great to hear from like so many more.


Ann: So absolutely. Yeah. To be in the thick of it as people are sharing their work up in the general sessions, but also the stuff that’s happening in the workshops. Yeah, it is a very different experience to be able to come to a conference like this. I have to say my soul is a little crushed that nobody said I want to go into marketing.


Julia: Okay. Social butterfly. Yeah.


Kayli: I didn’t even really realize before coming into maybe graduate school that industry is a thing.


Ann: Yes. Pays better too.


Kayli: That’s kind of nice. R&D, kind of like what Julia was saying, I think would be amazing. And how we have direct impact on the crime labs as well, I think is very unique opportunity and something that we should take the opportunities more. And I think that’s something I would also recommend for new scientists, whether they’re in undergrad or graduate school or just new in the field. Just try to take all the opportunities that are available. And don’t get discouraged if people say no. Have grace with yourself and there’s a lot of new things to learn. It can be very intimidating. But, you know, coming to these conferences, you’re slowly learning more and more and meeting other people that you can share knowledge and then they can tell you and learn more things.


Ann: I haven’t always worked in marketing. My first job out of undergrad was as a research tech at the University of Chicago, and one of the things that I had to do was tracheotomies on guinea pigs. And yeah, they’re cute and fuzzy and it was not easy, but I believed in the research, and I understand that animal models are an important part of discovery and research, but I found I just couldn’t do it. So then this was just when molecular biology was really kicking off. I have a cell biology degree. So, then I started spending more time with the PIs that were doing that kind of work and learning about that, and found I really liked it. But over time, I discovered that even though I’m naturally introverted, I like doing the marketing and the creative and talking with people. So, I really love that you guys are being open minded about where you want to go. Because when I told my dad I wanted to get a science degree, he’s like, what the heck are you going to do that? You know, and of course, like many graduate students, I was very idealistic. And I said, well, I’m going to, you know, get my undergrad, get a letter of recommendation, go to grad school, and I’m going to help cure cancer, you know, but life didn’t work out that way. So, when opportunities come up and it throws you a curve ball, absolutely give them serious consideration, because you never know where life is going to take you.


So, marketing is fun and also, but you can do both. You can spend time in the lab for a while and then decide to move into industry. In fact, a lot of companies actually prefer that because they like people who have, you know, practiced and have lived the life of somebody who is working in a crime lab and so forth. So, but you guys like, you’re going places. I know that for sure. So, I love that about you. Every time I get a chance to read the applications and watch the videos for these student ambassadors, I’m always so impressed. I keep thinking, what was I like when I was 22 or 24 or 25? And I’m like, I didn’t have my act together anywhere near the way you guys do, so let’s throw it, uh, throw a curve ball your way, and let’s start with you, Julia, what is your go to karaoke song?


Julia: Okay…


Ann: I’m gonna ask all of you this, so be ready. It could also be something you sing in the car that you don’t care whether somebody would notice.


Julia: I think the ultimate. Mood booster, and at karaoke, it really benefits when everyone kind of partakes and joins in. So, I think it’s September by Earth, Wind, and Fire, and we’re in September right now.


Beighley: You stole my answer.


Ann: Really? Oh, wow.


Beighley: So, I was a collegiate runner. And actually, before I would leave my hotel room, I would play that song, whoever was my roommate. And we would, like, dance out the verse and we would sing it. So that’s exactly why I was going to pick that song. So it’s an awesome song.


Ann: Yeah, yeah. You cannot sit still when that song comes on, so I totally get it. Good choice. Okay, how about you, Kayli?


Kayli: Oh, okay. Mine’s maybe not as out there, but probably anything. Selena. Bidi Bidi Bom Bom. Oh, yes.


Ann: Oh, okay. Got it.


Kayli: Like, I think, even if you don’t know Spanish, it’s just a fun song. Everyone’s in a good mood. Either that or if I’m feeling extra adventurous, maybe Bad Bunny, but it’s okay if I’m the only one who’s, like, singing it. Maybe that’s the stuff I’ll play in the car. Maybe not always karaoke, but at least Selena people… She’s a little bit more well known, so yes.


Ann: Terrific. All right, Cassie.


Cassie: I think I’d have to do some type of musical song because I love musicals. I normally do sing them in the car a lot, but for karaoke, I think my dream song would be Super Trouper from Mamma Mia! Oh, just because they have that little scene where it’s the three of them. I need to find two friends to do that.


Ann: Yes. Oh, of course.


Cassie: And do the dance.


Ann: Three friends right here. There you go.


Cassie: Yeah, I think that’s what my song would be.


Ann: Love it. Those are great choices. Yeah. I sing in the car all the time. I cannot carry a tune. I dance in the car, you know? And my husband’s always mortified. Oh, but too bad. He knew that getting married, that that was going to be part of it. So, let’s start with you, Kayli, who inspires you and why?


Kayli: Ooh, That’s a good question. Hmm. I would say… Okay. In the fields right now, I would say maybe our professors, just because they’ve gone through what we’ve gone through as well. And so, it’s cool to see what our future could look like. And they have so much knowledge and advice that they have bestowed upon us, and seeing how they interact with other people at conferences and how they’re making those connections is very inspiring of how to be professionally and just how to thrive in the field. And not just personally but also, you know, uh, professionally as well.


Ann: All right, Beighley, I’m going to ask you the same question. Who inspires you?


Beighley: Yeah, I definitely agree. Professors really have helped. Doctor Cynthia Zeller, who’s been my research mentor. She has been absolutely tremendous and been there for every step of the way. So, she really inspires me. But probably personally, there was a girl that was from my hometown that went to my high school. She was, she’s about, I think, 8 or 10 years older than me. But, she was also a runner. And so, I connected through her that way. But then what was really cool is she was also a woman in STEM. So, she ended up getting her PhD and postdoc, and she does something in neuroscience that is way over my head, but she is absolutely spectacular. So, I’ve always just really looked up to her because she juggled both and inspired me that I could also do the same thing. And we still are in contact today. So, yeah, I think, her name is Courtney Yeager, so shout out to her. She’s awesome and she really inspires me.


Ann: Wonderful. Yeah. That’s awesome. So, Cassie, if you could have dinner with anyone, dead or alive, who would it be? And what might be a question you ask them?


Cassie: I’m trying to think. I think it would be because I’m obsessed with the Mamma Mia! movie. You get that? It would have to be someone from the cast, probably Meryl Streep, because she’s been on other things, and I want her to tell me what it was like on set because I heard it was really, really fun.  And I want to imagine myself there with them, so I think I’d ask about that. Yeah.


Ann: That’s great. Yeah. She’s a goddess. I mean she’s an amazing actress. So yeah, she would be an entertaining dinner companion for sure.


Cassie: She seems very down to earth, even though she’s crazy talented.


Beighley: Yeah, totally. We should invite her next year.


Kayli: Keynote speaker.


Ann: Yes, she would be. She absolutely would. Julia, who would you like to have dinner with?


Julia: I’m thinking on the women in STEM. I think Rosalind Franklin. I think there’s a lot I wish I could hear from someone that’s such a pioneer that. Maybe wasn’t as recognized during her lifetime as we know now. Someone who is at the forefront of something, I think, has an innate bravery that is quiet and strong, and I wish that I could model that. So, I’d like to be able to have a conversation with her.


Ann: I would like to ask her just how angry she was to be overlooked, and to be marginalized by those two gentlemen, not to take away from their work. But honestly, seriously, I am so glad that STEM is changing and that powerful young women like you are making inroads that decades ago were just not possible. I have nieces, and, you know, I want them to be successful, and I don’t want men standing in their way. So, yeah, that was an excellent choice. Love it. Okay. Now I’m going to throw this one out to the whole group. What is your most used emoji? And let’s start with Julia.


Julia: I think my most used emoji is like the two eyes, like looking because I’m always wondering like, what are the people like? Are you seeing this? What are we seeing? What is everyone seeing? I want to know everyone else’s opinions. So that’s me reaching out to everybody.


Ann: I love that.


Cassie: Trying to think I don’t really use emojis that much. I’m trying. I think the most I probably use is just the crying, laughing face. Okay. That’s the classic one I think I use the most.


Beighley: I use probably the one that is like the hands that make the heart, because I just like, I don’t care if my friends, my family, anyone, I just love for them to know that I love them. So, I always just end with like little hearts because, you know, everyone needs to feel the love throughout the day. So that’s probably my most used emoji.


Ann: Excellent.


Kayli: I think my most used emoji is probably the one where it’s like sticking its tongue out and kind of also. Yes. Crying. Laughing. Yes. Like kind of silly. Yes. But also laughing. Lighthearted? Yes.


Ann: Excellent. I once had a conversation with my BFF where we just communicated via emojis, so it is possible. So my son, who’s 22, was shocked that we could actually do that at our age. So he’s like, really? I’m like, yes, we could do these things. All right. This also is going to be a question for everybody, and I will start with Kayli.  What are you most proud of? Work, research, family, anything in your life? Nothing’s off limits.


Kayli: Okay, that’s a hard question. I think one of the things I’m most proud of is getting to be where I am today, and that wouldn’t have been possible without my family, with their love and support, and also my friends too. I never would have imagined being in a doctoral school. I never thought I was going to be a PhD eventually. You know, I wasn’t going to apply to the program. I was like oh, master’s, and then they said, oh, you know, you should apply to both. You never know. And my cousin, who also has his PhD, said, just, just do it. And I was like oh, okay. I guess. And, you know, there’s definitely struggles and it’s not easy. But I think the way I’ve been able to overcome and persevere during the highs and lows of graduate school is something I’m very proud of.


Ann: Good. Excellent. And you should be.



Beighley: I agree, I’m really proud of how far I’ve come. I’m from a really small town in West Virginia, so, forensics isn’t really popular there. Just, like, just different, you know? So, I’m just so proud of, you know, the people I have behind me that are supporting me all the way through. And they’ve definitely been a big part of how I got to where I am. But, I just looked at all of these things I have accomplished and where I’ve gone. And now I’m in Denver and ISHI. It’s really cool to see. I’m really thankful for everyone that has supported me. And I’m just proud that I’ve just worked so hard, you know? And it’s very helpful having so many wonderful people around, like, meeting everyone here just encourages me to just keep going and see what’s out there. Just keep going after the next thing and see where I end up.


Ann: Excellent, excellent. Julia, how about you?


Julia: My mom. She came to the country as an international graduate student, only knew English in theory, and she got her master’s at Texas A&M. Unfortunately, she wasn’t able to finish her doctorate because she had my younger brother at the time. So I look up to her in so many ways. But I also want to finish this doctorate in her honor.


Ann: Oh. That’s wonderful. Um, I’m sure she’s very proud. Cassie.


Cassie: I think what I’m most proud of is probably… I was a very quiet kid, and it took a while for me to like be able to socialize and like, I don’t know, interact more. And I feel like I’m proud of myself for taking on new things. Like I’ve moved a couple times for college, like I went to Ohio State from New Jersey, and then I came here, and I guess I’m proud of myself for being able to make friends and like, put myself out there compared to what it was like as a kid. And I am very happy that everybody at Towson was so nice and welcoming and made it very easy to adjust every time. And I’m just happy that I’ve taken on every new experience I’ve been given.



Ann: Yeah, stepping out of your comfort zone, I’m sure you’ve heard this quote is where the growth happens, right? So, you know. I’m like you. Quiet, introverted. I, you know, got a handful of really close friends and my natural instinct is to be introverted, and I prefer that, but I went into marketing, so you cannot be introverted and work in marketing. So, I had to really grow and find my way through that. And there are days where it’s still, even at my age, really overwhelming. And then, like, stepping into that welcome reception, I was like, oh heck no. But I’m like, yeah, you have to put yourself out, you know? So, I went and I found some folks I recognized and I talked to them for a little bit. But yeah, I encourage you to, you know, take that leap because you never know what is going to happen. And you guys have so much strength and courage and brilliance, right? I mean, nobody goes to graduate school and is a pin head, right? I mean, you guys are leading the way. The focus of the work that you’re doing is going to be game changers down the road for people and in crime labs and thinking about the victims and being able to give them some sort of closure or justice, whatever the word is that they’re looking for. That’s so powerful. Right? I think back to the choices that, you know, we are all given and you just never know where life is going to take you. So having that open mind stepping out of your comfort zone, saying, okay, I got this, let’s give this a go. That’s hard to do, especially in today’s world. But please never stop believing in yourself and taking that step. So, one last question for each of you okay? And this is going to be an easy one, I hope. What is your favorite thing to do when you are not studying or working in the lab? Let’s start with you. Who wants to go first? Who’s ready with an answer? I think.


Kayli: Julia kind of mentioned I’m a social butterfly, at least when it comes to maybe people that I know more closely. So, I think that’s the way that I relieve stress is hanging out with people. So, I’m probably the one that’s saying Boba? Movies? Game night? Do you want to play Mario Party? So, I think any of that, it’s just fun and easy going and it takes the stress out of school. You don’t have to… Like, this is the time to relax. We will work tomorrow.


Ann: That’s excellent. How about you?


Beighley: I do like to bake. Fun fact, for ISHI, I told them that I make really good banana bread, which everyone has told me. So, I do like to bake and make a lot of awesome things, especially when it’s pumpkin season. So, I will be going back home and making a lot of pumpkin bakery items. Also, Cassie and I are roommates, so we do like to… We have some shows that we watch together. So sometimes after a long day in the lab, you know, we’ll make cookies and watch different TV shows, which is kind of relieve some stress.


Ann: That’s good. How about you, Cassie?


Cassie: So, lots of cookie eating. That is true. We do together. I’m more of a cook, not a baker.


Ann: Ok, so those go together really well though.


Cassie: Yeah, I’m not very much of a baker but I do like to cook and either I like to invite friends over and like we all cook together or like I do the majority of it and they pretend to help and yeah, I just do that and hang out with friends is mostly or if I’m not feeling social, I do put a podcast in and I just zone in on cooking. I find it so relaxing. I just recently got into it this year.


Ann: Okay, awesome.


Cassie: My new hobby.


Ann: That’s great. That’s great. What’s a podcast you really like?


Cassie: So, there was one that I recently listened to, Amanda. It was about this woman who, like basically faked having cancer. And so, I listened to it a lot. There are like a few true crime ones I listened to. That one was very interesting, but it was short. So, I kind of have to change. I do listen to a Dance Moms one. I don’t know if you’ve heard of that reality TV.


Speaker5: I have, yeah.


Cassie: So, I listened to that one. That one’s like my backup if I don’t have a different one because that one, there’s a lot of episodes, so.


Ann: I’m sure. All right, Julia, what do you do when you’re not in the lab or studying?


Julia: I think after a long day in the lab, putting everything out there, meetings, emails, all this. When I come home, the best way to recharge is to stare at my two cats and interact with them. I’m training them to ride in a double decker stroller. I think just… It’s, it’s like Kayli’s where recharging with the presence of others. They’re there own kind of support network for me. And I think that was maybe the most introverted answer that I could give, but I think it’s the reality.


Ann: No, no, no, no, no, I think that’s great. It’s making connections, right? Whether it’s with your pets who are members of your family. I have a golden retriever, and he’s delightful, but doofus, but delightful. Or friends and family. I mean, all of that. I think. Allison, our keynote yesterday really capitalized that about that human connection. I mean, when she was talking about being in that moment and making that connection with that man who saved her life. So, yeah, as long as you’re finding ways to decompress and recharge your batteries and self-care, it really is critical. It’s one of the things that I can give you advice, because I’ve been around for a much longer than you have and wasn’t great at doing this when I was your age. Absolutely. Take the time to spend time with people you love, people who bring you joy. Don’t spend time reading a book. Like if you’re 50 pages in and you’re not digging it, put it aside and grab another. If somebody is only brings negative energy into your life, find a way to get them out of your life.

But really put yourselves… Prioritize yourselves first. The work is hard. The studying is hard. To be successful, you guys absolutely have the skill sets, the intelligence, everything. But don’t forget to take care of yourself. That’s the mom in me coming out. But I was so proud of everything that you guys have done. I’m going to be checking out the posters today. I wasn’t able to yesterday, but I will go back and read each of them. I want to thank you for spending time with me today. I know there’s so much to do, and we’re about 10 to 9:00, so I want us to end now so you all can get to the general sessions. But thank you so much for taking time out to talk with me. I love learning from you guys. I do still learn from you guys and reach out to me if you have any questions. If you decide you’re thinking about moving into industry or you want to make connections, find me on LinkedIn. Totally cool with that. Happy to help you in any way I can, but good luck to you.