A traveler on bioengineering’s many paths

Looking for a chance to do one thing impactful within the early phases of the Covid-19 pandemic, Julian Zulueta utilized for an internship with the U.S. Facilities for Illness Management, by means of MIT’s PKG Public Service Center. Through the summer time of 2020, he analyzed requisition knowledge to raised perceive how completely different areas throughout america have been affected by Covid-19, and what sources can be best on the bottom.

“We’d speak with hospitals and see what they have been going by means of on the bottom stage,” says Zulueta, an MIT senior majoring in bioengineering. “What have been their cities wanting like? How have been well being care employees responding? And the way might we deploy epidemiologists or contact tracers to these completely different areas?”

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The expertise gave him a multifaceted perspective on public well being and sparked a ardour for public service management. Whereas he hopes to attend medical college and contribute to immunology and most cancers analysis as a physician-scientist, Zulueta can be dedicated to advancing the human facet of medication.

“In public well being, loads of instances we give it some thought from a scientific standpoint, like drugs or biology,” he says. “However we additionally want to contemplate the social facets.”

A holistic view

As an undergraduate researcher, Zulueta has centered on immunoengineering, particularly how the immune system reacts to most cancers. He has labored in various labs by means of the Undergraduate Analysis Alternatives Program (UROP) to get hands-on expertise in each moist lab and computational strategies, with the purpose of growing extra predictive and preventative methods to fight most cancers.  

Coming into MIT, Zulueta already had an curiosity in biology from lessons he took in highschool. Witnessing his grandmother’s melanoma analysis and remedy additionally spurred him to suppose not solely concerning the technical facets of most cancers analysis, however the social influence as properly.

When he was youthful, Zulueta spent loads of time along with his grandmother, whether or not fishing collectively within the Florida Keys or chatting whereas she cooked croquetas and different favourite dishes. From this time collectively, and as he took her to physician’s appointments all through her restoration, Zulueta witnessed the deep influence that most cancers has on particular person lives.

That view of most cancers analysis, and of well being care extra broadly, is greatest encapsulated by Zulueta’s favourite class at MIT, 7.45 (The Hallmarks of Most cancers), which frames discussions round most cancers when it comes to individuals.

“We got case research, an issue of a affected person with most cancers, and had to consider how we’d deal with them,” says Zulueta. “How will we take into consideration their total well being, not simply in treating the most cancers, but in addition enhancing high quality of life.”

Following his internship with the CDC, Zulueta joined the MIT Undergraduate Association’s group service committee and has labored to encourage his friends to pursue service each throughout and after their time at MIT.

As president of the Bioengineering Undergraduate Board, he helps arrange alumni talks, profession gala’s, and social occasions, and advocates for adjustments with the curriculum. One focus has been rising the flexibleness of electives. For instance, Zulueta has taken various laptop science lessons which have proved invaluable in his work, and he desires to make sure future college students can simply entry the identical alternatives.  

Sudden parallels

Zulueta can be pursuing a minor within the historical past of structure, artwork, and design. He cites the outstanding artwork tradition in Miami, his hometown, as sowing the seeds of this curiosity.

The minor “teaches concerning the invisibility of individuals, or of artwork, and the way we will interact with that as architects or artwork historians,” says Zulueta. “I’ve all the time preferred studying about how individuals suppose, how societies work and so forth.”

He’s taken lessons corresponding to 4.607 (Pondering About Structure: In Historical past and at Current) and 4.344 (Superior Images and Associated Media). Within the latter, his closing undertaking examined his personal historical past and identification, specifically how his educational curiosity in most cancers and grandmother’s most cancers analysis are intrinsically linked. He used cyanotypes, a photographic medium that adjustments with daylight, and organized them on a mirror to not solely current his personal identification, however invite viewers to replicate on their very own as properly.

In reflecting on his time at MIT, Zulueta sees parallels between organic engineering and curiosity in artwork historical past, too.

“Quite a lot of what I do in bioengineering is with imaging, specializing in little particulars, perhaps the contours of cells or how issues transfer,” says Zulueta. “What artwork historical past taught me is learn how to concentrate on the small particulars as a result of on the finish of the day, the small steps make the massive steps rely. It actually taught me to hone in and be extra curious.”

After commencement, Zulueta plans to attend medical college. He desires to proceed to contribute to the sphere of immunology by means of analysis and proceed to function a mentor and inspiration for future physicians.

For now, Zulueta is wanting ahead to his final semester at MIT, notably ending out the season with the light-weight crew workforce. He’s been rowing all through his whole faculty profession, and although the 6 a.m. wakeups might be difficult, he’s all the time appreciated the camaraderie of the workforce.

“Should you don’t have all eight individuals within the boat, you’ll be able to’t exit on the water,” says Zulueta. “Your workforce depends on you. You’re part of one thing greater.”


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