College:College of Medicine
Degree Program:Biotechnology MS
Research Focus:RNAs and cancer treatments
As a child, Nikhila Mondraty always wanted to be a doctor. Though she had fleeting fantasies of becoming an astronaut or lawyer, she never strayed too far from her dream of becoming a physician.
When she began working in an emergency room and volunteering at local clinics, Mondraty had the opportunity to interact and develop relationships with patients, which helped her confirm that this was the right career path for her.
“I realized that the blind trust people put into the hands of a doctor to nurse them back to health is one of the main things that draws me deeper into this field. I want to allow others to trust me [in the way] they trust people close to them." Mondraty says.
Mondraty completed her Bachelor of Science in Biology with minors in Criminal Justice, Forensic Studies, and Pre-Health at Nova Southeastern University in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida. Now, she is working on her Master of Science in Biotechnology and serving on the Graduate Student Advisory Council at UCF before pursuing medical school. “Doing a master's before medical school will let me see the research behind the scenes and the communication and benchwork skills required for a successful career in the clinical field,” she says.
Mondraty was drawn to UCF by the renowned research of faculty in areas such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, infectious diseases, and neurology. She is currently working in Dr. Ratna Chakrabarti’s lab researching long noncoding RNA’s and their functions as oncogenes or tumor suppressor genes. She hopes to help develop new oncogenic therapeutics for cancer patients.
“I love how hands-on the whole Biotechnology program is regarding the lab work we get to do,” Mondraty says. “I also love that the cohort for this program is tiny so that we each get the individualized attention that might not be available elsewhere.”
With the hands-on research experience she has gained, Mondraty knows that her time at UCF has prepared her well to be successful in her field. “The student-led approach to the program allowed me to think for myself and get the best value out of what I thought was the best way to approach my master’s to help me achieve my future goals,” she says.
Although she knows graduate school sometimes is overwhelming, Mondraty advises her peers to take things one day at a time. “Don’t look at it like one big task; look at it as several tiny tasks you can do to accomplish that enormous task,” she says.
After graduating from UCF in 2024, Mondraty plans to work in the Biotech industry before beginning medical school.
- 21-year-old Biotechnology MS student
- Researching RNAs to develop new treatments for cancer
- Graduate Student Advisory Council member
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