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Marinna Madrid

Cellino Biotech, Inc., USA

Marinna Madrid

Country of Birth: USA
Country of Residence: USA
Educational Background: Riverside Community College; BS in Biophysics, University of California, Los Angeles; PhD in Applied Physics, Harvard University


I actually didn’t start out in science! When I first graduated from high school, I went to NYU to study journalism. It ended up being a terrible fit. I dropped out in the middle of my first year, moved back home, and started over at a community college. I ended up doing really well in my physics, biology, and math courses. Then I transferred to UCLA and had the opportunity to do research in Dr. Amy Rowat’s lab. She encouraged me to apply to graduate school and helped me with the applications, and I ended up attending Harvard for a PhD in Applied Physics. At Harvard, my labmate, Nabiha Saklayen, and I coinvented several laser-based techniques for delivering cargoes to cells.

Now I work at Cellino Biotech, a start-up I co-founded with Nabiha, Stan Wang, and Matthias Wagner. At Cellino we are building a fully automated cell engineering technology that combines laser optics, robotics, and computation to differentiate stem cells. Because Cellino is a small start-up, everyone must wear a lot of hats. Each day is different. I’ve spent days writing python code to control a liquid handling robot, running intracellular delivery experiments to poke holes in cell membranes, and planning out quality control strategies for our manufacturing operations. Working at a start-up has required me to develop both technical skills and management skills.

Some advice I would give to younger girls or women who are considering a career in STEM would be to develop your soft skills. During the PhD, everyone works on their technical skills, but very few people actively work on their soft skills. For example, knowing how to give a good presentation, or how to negotiate a salary, are extremely useful skills that many scientists are lacking. And I would also recommend learning some basic coding! It’s useful in basically every field.

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