Meet Mariya Lazebnik: Senior Scientist and Cancer Researcher

October 31, 2008

Mariya Lazebnik, a 2007–08 Selected Professions Fellow, first became interested in biomedical problems after studying cancer biology in high school. She decided to study electrical and biomedical engineering in college to “apply engineering principles to solving biomedical problems.” In July 2008 Mariya took a job as a senior scientist with the Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI) Technologies group at Medtronic, where she studies MRI technologies for patients with implanted devices. “Patients who have implanted devices are currently advised against having MRI scans. This remains an extremely important unmet need in medicine,” she explained.

Mariya’s doctoral research at the University of Wisconsin, Madison, focused on the use of electromagnetic energy at microwave frequencies for breast cancer detection. This multi-year, multi-institutional study differed from previous studies in that it was much larger in scope. Mariya and her team published a paper about their research findings that was selected as a finalist for the Roberts’ Prize, which is awarded to one of the top ten papers published in physics in medicine and biology. Having received the AAUW Selected Professions Engineering Dissertation Fellowship gave Mariya the financial support to focus on her research. In addition, Mariya said, “I wrote about my research in mid-year and final reports, which enabled me to observe how my project evolved over time.”

Mariya hopes to continue developing her technical engineering and research skills. To others considering a career in science, technology, engineering, or math, she said, “I have found the STEM fields to be incredibly rewarding, and I would encourage more women to pursue careers within these disciplines.”

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