Faces and Voices of the 2019 Cohort

The Amgen Scholars Program brings together a diverse and talented group of students from around the world each year — giving them high-level experience in scientific research. Here’s just a sampling of some of the individuals who participated this year in the North American, European, and Asian programs:

Alina Heck
Amgen Scholar: University of Toronto
Home Institution: University of Alberta  

“I think it’s really neat that Canada is being included in this. It’s such a great research opportunity. I am really proud to be part of the inaugural cohort from Canada. There are 15 of us this year at the University of Toronto and we’re from all over Canada. I am from the West Coast — I grew up in British Columbia — and I’m studying now in the province over. We have students from the very east coast of Canada like Nova Scotia all the way to the west.”

-Alina Heck
Allen Green 
Amgen Scholar: Duke University
Home Institution: Brown University

“The most interesting part about being an Amgen Scholar is that you really realize that anyone can do science. Back home, I usually do engineering, with no relation to biology. This was my first biology lab. When I first came in, I was very flustered because I didn’t understand any of the techniques, didn’t know how to maintain cells, had never worked on anything like that. Within the first few weeks I was there, I really started getting a grasp of everything. At this point, my mentor is kind of hands off because she trusts me. And this happens every time I join a new lab, which  think translates to science as a whole.

-Allen Green
Josette Yeboah
Amgen Scholar: NIH
Home Institution: Lafayette College

“At NIH in the summer, I studied the social determinants of obesity and cardiovascular risk. Our study was with African American populations and whether or not neurotransmitters have an impact on their cell functions. I liked learning more about the ways health impacts many different populations. I wanted to be in a lab that was very translational but also interdisciplinary. …I’m definitely going to continue with health disparities. …It’s really nice to see you can have this kind of impact from such a wonderful institution like NIH.”

-Josette Yeboah
Brandon Brown 
Amgen Scholar: Stanford University
Home Institution: Morehouse College

“We’re working on learning the different parts of dengue virus using CRISPR. … Hard work does bring you places. Coming from the city of Chicago, I never expected I’d be at a place like Stanford Medical School doing biomedical research. It’s been an absolute blessing. I want everyone to know not let anything stand in the way of achieving your goal. Working with great people in a great environment helps me strive to be the best man I can be and make a future for the next generation.  

-Brandon Brown
Thea Fennell 
Amgen Scholar: University of Cambridge
Home Institution: University of Cambridge

“One of the best things was being in close proximity with the other Scholars in the Cambridge program. They are all as enthusiastic about science as I am but we’re all doing projects in quite different areas, so I got quite an excited perspective on some areas of biology that might not be in my degree. It also gave me a bit of a new perspective on some of the work I was doing. But also outside of the purely academic, it’s been really fun to get to know a bunch of people as nerdy as I am.”

-Thea Fennell
Jan Bayram
Amgen Scholar: Institut Pasteur
Home Institution: Charles University, Prague

“The Amgen Scholars Program gave me international experience, which, in my opinion, is a vital step in every scientist’s career. I;ve met great inspiring people both in my lab and outside the lab, including great labs. I hope these friendships will last forever. 

-Jan Bayram
Svval Altay
Amgen Scholar: ETH Zurich
Home Institution: Koç University School of Medicine

“It is awesome. Everyone has a different background; everyone has something different to share with you. Everyone here is really passionate about science, and it is rare when you study in your own university to find someone who has similar interests to you.”

-Svval Altay
Nikita Sergejevs (left)
Amgen Scholar: LMU
Home Institution: University of Warwick
Jacopo Razzauti
Amgen Scholar: LMU
Home Institution: University of Dundee

“We experienced a lot of cultural interaction. What we have in common is that we all love science. We give comments on each others’ projects. We have two families…the people who work with you in the lab and your friends.”

-Jacopo Razzauti

“It’s a combination of a friendly and challenging environment…You look at the others and they all work hard, which stimulates you to work harder. … This experience shapes you really well as a junior scientist.”

– Nikita Serge
Rahul Kumar Thakur 
Amgen Scholar: National University of Singapore
Home Institution: Birla Institute of Technology

“During these two months of the Amgen Scholars Program. I got to learn about my interpersonal skills. Here, other Amgen Scholars are very down-to-earth, and they always helped me a lot whenever I needed help in terms of understanding the problem. The professors apart from the lab researchers are all very awesome and they have an idea how to solve today’s problem. They have a vision to create something new.”

-Rahul Kumar Thakur 
Chin Mun Yee
Amgen Scholar: Tsinghua University
Home Institution: Nagoya University

“I think it’s amazing how diverse we are as a group of Amgen Scholars. Most of us come from different countries, we have different backgrounds and we all have different stories to share But we come here with a common goal, wanting to learn more about scientific research to delve more into the field of life science and also to learn more about China.”

-Chin Mun Yee

Learn more about this year’s Asian program cohort in these videos from the National University of Singapore and Tsinghua University.