Kristine Mayle, a Ph.D. student in bioengineering at the UCLA Henry Samueli School of Engineering and Applied Science, recently was named a Larraine Segil C200 Scholar. The honor, from the Committee of 200 recognizes outstanding women studying in a field of science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) with leadership potential, entrepreneurial spirit and a commitment to supporting women.  A member of Professor Daniel T. Kamei’s laboratory, Mayle enrolled at UCLA after graduating from Ohio University with bachelor’s degree in chemical engineering.  She is also a recipient of the National Science Foundation’s Graduate Research Fellowship. Mayle answered a few questions on her studies and plans.

Q. Can you describe your research focus?

Kristine Mayle: My current research focus is developing targeted therapies for prostate cancer with the goal of reducing the non-specific toxicity characteristics of anti-cancer drugs, such as nausea and hair loss. Specifically, I have been investigating the following targeting ligands: an engineered version of the serum protein, transferrin, developed by the Kamei Lab at UCLA; the minibody, A11, which was created by Anna Wu’s group at UCLA; as well as targeted polypeptides, which were developed in the Deming Lab at UCLA.

Q. Why did you pick UCLA Bioengineering when you were looking to pursue graduate study?

Mayle: I applied to the UCLA Bioengineering Department based on the variety of prestigious professors and exciting, cutting-edge research. The proximity of the Ronald Reagan Medical Center also provides a unique opportunity for collaboration, as well as the potential for access to patient samples. I made my final decision after attending the Bioengineering Department graduate school open house. I had the opportunity to listen to Professor Kamei present on the development of an engineered version of transferrin for targeted drug delivery. As an engineer, I loved the application of mathematical modeling to identify non-intuitive design parameters for the development of better cancer therapies, and I decided to attend UCLA with the goal of joining the Kamei Lab.

Q. How did you find out about C200?

Mayle: I learned about the Committee of 200 (C200) through advertisement by UCLA for the 2013 Reachout Conference, which was held in partnership with the Anderson School’s Harold and Pauline Price Center for Entrepreneurial Studies. The Reachout Conference focused on topics in entrepreneurship, science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.

Q. Can you describe the C200 conference and what you took away from it, and also if you’ve been able to take advantage of its  network at this point?

Mayle: The C200 conference discussed the topic of “Why Women and STEM Matter” and featured a keynote from Renée James, president of Intel. Many highly successful women from C200 attended, giving us the opportunity to hear them speak as panelists, as well as one-on-one.  The C200 members shared stories of their successes and struggles as they worked to start their own businesses, climb to the top of companies, as well as adapt as technology continues to change the business landscape. It was exciting and inspiring to be surrounded by such ambitious and accomplished people who were eager to support and advance the next generation of women business leaders. Additionally, I am a member of the C200 Scholar Network, which provides unique learning and networking opportunities, ranging from business-specific webinars led by experienced C200 members to the annual C200 Scholar Symposium.

Q. What are your plans after your Ph.D.?

Mayle: My current plan is to join Phase Diagnostics, a start-up company created by former and current members of the Kamei Lab at UCLA. Phase Diagnostics aims to revolutionize the definition of rapid point-of-care diagnostics using a unique and novel technology developed in our lab. I am excited and looking forward to joining the team.

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