Finding Her Path
In sports, they say, “You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take.” Roshani A. Patil, ME’19, bioengineering, took that statement to heart when she decided to get a graduate degree.
After earning her bachelor’s in biomedical engineering from Illinois Institute of Technology, Chicago in 2015, Patil headed to New Hampshire for an academic job at Dartmouth-Hitchcock Medical Center for a year, before deciding to pursue her master’s. She researched many programs and many professors, but the perfect fit ended up being right under her nose. Her then principal investigator (PI) was aware of Professor Mark Niedre’s work at Northeastern and recommended that she reach out to him. After taking the time to learn about Professor Niedre’s research, which Patil found compelling, she took the shot and made it.
“I sent Professor Niedre an email with my research interests and asked if he was interested in hiring a graduate student in his lab,” she recalls. “I had done a lot of research on professors that were doing work I was interested in, and I had emailed many professors at different universities, so I did not expect a reply. However, Professor Niedre got back to me within 10 minutes of my email and said he really liked my CV and encouraged me to apply to the program.”
As Patil researched Northeastern’s program further—with continued interaction with and support from Professor Niedre—she learned that she would be able to complete a thesis while earning her MS, which was a critical decision factor for her. Then the co-op program helped put Northeastern over the top.
“Apart from getting a graduate degree, I also wanted something where I could get real-world industry experience and Northeastern is known for its co-op program, so that was a huge deciding factor, as well,” she explains.
In fact, the co-op program ended up influencing her career path after Northeastern. Before Northeastern and during her time in Professor Niedre’s lab, Patil mainly focused on cancer cell detection and imaging modalities, so more on the detection side of the equation. Her co-op at KSQ Therapeutics in Cambridge, however, focused on cancer therapies.
“This was completely different from what I had done in my previous work,” she says. “It was an eye-opening experience.”
Although she thoroughly enjoyed her work in Professor Niedre’s lab—and was able to contribute to several published papers as first and second author—her work since Northeastern has focused on cancer therapies. She currently works as an immuno-oncology Scientist at Novartis.
“My Northeastern experience, including my co-op, helped me decide the path that I wanted to take,” she says. “I really needed that to help guide me to where I wanted to be.”
That’s a major takeaway for Patil: Making the most of the whole program is what really sets you up for success. Yes, classes are extremely important, but diving into co-ops, and even completing a thesis, provide a valuable experience.
“Classes help you understand and learn about the theory, but then your co-ops and thesis are the real-life application of that theory,” Patil explains. “During my job interviews, I mainly spoke about what I did in my thesis project and co-op. That’s the real-life experience they’re looking for and the real-life experience you’ve acquired.”