Advice for Aspiring Scientists from a Successful MSEF Alum

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An extraordinary MSEF alum, Catherine (Caty) Reyes has continued her success in the sciences ever since her project in 2001 during her junior year of high school.

In May 2000, Caty moved to a suburb outside of Worcester with her family from Colombia and spent the next two years at Wachusett Regional High School. Her first year at a new school, Caty was inspired to conduct a science research project, which went on to place at the MA Science & Engineering Fair. Growing up on a ranch-style farm for much of her early life, she had seen first-hand the importance of conservation of nature and had her own worries about contamination. In addition, she had multiple hip surgeries when she was a child, making medicine an important part of her life and sparking her interest.

Luckily for her, her high school already connections to a lab in the UMass network, staffed by microbiologists who were eager to take students. Her chemistry teacher saw the connection between Caty’s interests and the work already being done by those in the lab, where they were researching methods of killing bacteria that make spores through cycles of heating and cooling systems. While there, she learned a lot about microbiology techniques, and loved having a place to go and explore her interests outside of school with the help of a mentor.

Then senator Barack Obama with Caty Reyes after they both delivered speeches at the 2006 UMass Boston Commencement ceremonies

Caty was successful outside of the lab as well, having been awarded a full four year scholarship to UMass Boston where she received the University’s JFK Academic Excellence Award. At her graduation, she had the honor of giving a commencement speech, which happened to be the same year that future president Barack Obama gave a commencement speech at the school.

While in college, Caty was torn between a career heavily involved with science research and her interest in medicine. Her project at MSEF helped spur her interest in microbiology and bench research, which she continued in college through programs at UMass Boston. Caty says, however, that she discovered how much she liked the social aspect of medicine, and that solidified her decision to go to medical school.

At Harvard Medical School until 2013, she discovered that the process of trial and failure and the scientific method that she used in research was similar to what she was doing studying medicine. Today, she is an MD at the Lynn Community Health Center, where she has been since graduating her residency from the Tufts Family Medicine at Cambridge Health Alliance in 2016.

For aspiring scientists looking for advice, Caty says, “Find inspiration, find mentors, and do it.” On behalf of MSEF, we would like to congratulate Caty on all her accomplishments so far, and her accomplishments yet to come!






Blog written by: Paige Vincent