Lauren Carriere is a junior majoring in microbiology and immunology. Carriere is in the first cohort of Maximizing Access to Research Careers (MARC) Nevada students, which aims to increase diversity in the biomedical sciences and supports students in applying to and transitioning into research-focused higher degree programs. As a first-generation student, getting to the University in the first place was a hurdle to overcome.
“Applying to college was a big challenge,” Carriere said. “Figuring out applications, figuring out the FAFSA, things like that.” The challenges didn’t end at her admissions letter, though.
“At first it was a lot to learn how to be a college student, be on my own, and be at a University with 20,000 people. I absolutely love it now, though,” Carriere said. “Finding my way overall was a bit tough in the beginning.” She started her freshman year during the COVID-19 pandemic, and didn’t have the opportunity to participate in NevadaFIT, which she said added to the struggles she had as a first-generation student.
Carriere said being organized is important to her as she balances her responsibilities in the research lab, as a learning assistant for Biology 189, and as a full-time student. At the end of the day she prioritizes herself to make sure she can bring her full self to school and the lab. She’s adapted to the college student life well and is excited to be part of the first cohort of MARC students.
“I’ve always loved science and being in undergraduate research has allowed me to get a super hands-on approach while taking science in my own direction.” Carriere didn’t always know she wanted to pursue microbiology.
“I was a pre-nursing major and part of the pre-nursing coursework is microbiology.” When Carriere took the microbiology course, she loved it and decided to switch her major to microbiology. “I’ve always had an underlying passion for science, but taking microbiology really lit a fire in me and I immediately knew I wanted to pursue it.” She started to work in Trevor J. McMinn Research Professor of Biology Jamie Voyles’s research lab. Carriere wants to pursue a Ph.D. and to eventually work in the biomedical field. “I fell in love with learning and the subjects I am studying and I don’t want it to end at the undergraduate level.”
She wants to learn more about host-pathogen interactions and eventually combine medicine with microbiology or immunology. For her MARC research, Carriere is still designing her experiment but wants to pursue something related to microbiology and/or the microbiome. She gained some experience over the summer working with graduate students.
Through the MARC Nevada program, four motivated students who want to pursue futures in the biomedical sciences can do so and get financial support. The program offers an annual stipend of nearly $14,000 for their junior and senior years, plus partial tuition covered.
“The stipend has taken so much pressure off of me,” Carriere said. “It’s such a privilege to be able to focus on what I want to do and focus on bettering myself in my research career without having to worry about a job to work on the side. I get to do something I love while getting paid for it, it truly doesn’t feel like work. I’m super grateful for this opportunity and for the people who helped me get here.”