I am excited to highlight, Melinda Mata, as the newest #WomanofHouston. Melinda has over ten years of experience in bio-medical research. Yes, you read it right, 10+ years! Melinda graduated from Michael E. DeBakey High School for Health Profession, University of St. Thomas with a Bachelor of Arts in Biology, and is currently completing her PhD in Immunology at Baylor College of Medicine. Since taking these photos Melinda has welcomed daughter Sara Elizabeth into the world.
A little about Melinda’s research:
Melinda’s interest lies in cancer immunotherapy that involves adoptive T-cell transfer and combination therapies. She is currently working on immunotherapeutic approaches for solid tumors using CAR+ (chimeric antigen receptor) T cells. She developed a spontaneous canine tumor model to evaluate CAR T-cell therapy prior to human clinical trials. Melinda has won three honors and awards for her work: Center for Cell and Gene Therapy T32 Training Grant, 1st place Oral Presentation from the Center Cell and Gene Therapy Annual Retreat, and 3rd Place Poster Presentation from the Texas Children’s Cancer Center Research Symposium.
Her research in two slides:
Passion: scientific research, immunology, cancer immunotherapy
Work: Depends on the day – usually casual (jeans, blouse, flat shoes since I work in a research lab and have to stand/walk a lot). On days when I have to do presentations/attend conferences, I wear business/business casual (skirt/shirt or pants/blazer).
Non-work – casual
Getting Ready in the morning – try to get things done in as short amount of time as possible – walk the dog, eat breakfast, change, hair/makeup, leave for work (usually around 1 hr)
Make up – simple and nothing that take more than 5-10 minutes to do. Must haves are black eyeliner and mineral powder
Hair – usually straightens hair and wear in ponytail
Skincare – use moisturizer and prescription topical gels to keep face clear
Nails – Usually wear no polish or clear polish, but when I do I like darker colors like purple or maroon. Love to get pedicures during summer
Breakfast – something fast to make (cereal, waffles) during the week and eggs/sausage/toast on weekends
Lunch – either leftovers from last night’s dinner or will pick something up at work
Dinner – we try to cook dinner when we get home (chicken/fish with sides) Nothing that takes more than 30 minutes to prepare. Otherwise we will eat out and try to eat healthy (salads, sandwiches)
Fitness: Exercise – don’t work out as much as I would like. Walking dog in the morning and evening is the probably the most I do.
Challenges – Scientific research can be very competitive. You can work extremely hard on a particular project but a different lab may also be working on the same project and could publish before you do. The challenge is when you have to start over or figure out a way to make your research different from theirs.
Favorite – My favorite thing about being a graduate student/working in science is problem solving. I love the thrill of finding an answer to a scientific question by designing and performing experiments in the lab or even simply just combing through scientific literature. I love that science is a constant challenge in itself – we are constantly learning. Also, I like that every day is different and I’m not doing the same thing all day, every day. One day I maybe in the lab all day, the next day I’m at a research conference, the next day I can spend all day reading/writing/working on presentations.
Stress Relief – To take my mind off of work I spend time with Robert, take the dog to the park, and I like decorating the house, photography or anything arts and crafts related. Also these days I also like to plan for baby! 🙂
Photos are unfiltered and unedited. Photography by A. Pham