Collage of Stanford Biosicences students using pipettes for research

Student Profile: Julie Huang

Julie Huang
  • Hometown: Los Angeles, Calif.
  • Undergraduate: BS, California Institute of Technology
  • Home Program: Microbiology and Immunology
  • Thesis Lab: Dr. Manuel Amieva

Please describe your research area and interest.

My research focuses on Helicobacterpylori, a human specific pathogen that infects the stomachs of over half of the world's population. I'm interested in understanding how H. pylori colonizes the stomach and cause disease. More specifically, I am investigating the mechanism by which H. pylori navigates through the harsh acidic environment of the stomach and persists on the gastric epithelium.

What do you like best about graduate school at Stanford?

I like the independence that grad school gives me to pursue the scientific questions that I am most interested in. It's an amazing opportunity to get paid to learn and to get trained to become a successful scientist. What I like best about Stanford is that the school has incredible support for students who are interested in pursuing non-academic careers. I feel that many of the other universities that I considered did not have resources to provide students with information about alternative careers. Also, I feel that, because Stanford is located in Silicon Valley, there is a strong entrepreneurial spirit that encourages students to be innovative, collaborative, and have a "can do" attitude.

Who are your sources of support at Stanford?

My advisor, Manuel, is definitely a huge source of support especially in my training as a scientist. My labmates are incredibly supportive as well, as they've seen me during both my high and low points. Recently, I've also found support in BioAIMS as well as mentoring programs, such as the SBSA mentoring program and Association of Women in Science mentoring program.

What activities are you involved in outside of research?

I am very passionate about mentoring younger students who come from similar backgrounds as me (girls interested in science, students who are first-gen and/or from low-income backgrounds). I have served as a mentor to two female high school students who participated in the Stanford Medical Youth Science Program this past summer and as an unofficial mentor to a Stanford female undergraduate. I have also served as a panelist for several visiting high school groups where I've talked about my path to college and graduate school. I regularly volunteer for outreach events for the Association for Women in Science (Girl Scouts science day as well as Sally Ride Festival). And this year, I am vice president of the Stanford Biomedical Association for the Interest of Minority Students (BioAIMS). I am also very passionate about teaching, and I try to give talks about scientific research to middle school and high school students. As for fun hobbies, I love to cook and host dinner parties. I also like to draw and paint, although I do not have as much time for this hobby as I used to.

How do you bring diversity to Stanford Biosciences?

I bring diversity to Stanford Biosciences as a female scientist. It is very interesting to see how many women are in the Biosciences graduate population, but then when one looks at the faculty-member composition, it is predominantly male. I think my first-gen/low-income background also contributes to diversity. I grew up in a predominantly Hispanic and Asian immigrant community, and the culture and values of this community are deeply ingrained in me. I think the experiences that I had growing up in this type of community and my interactions with people from this background allow me to bring perspective to the predominantly educated middle-class in academia.

What is your dream job/long-term career goals?

My dream job is to be a well-established professor where I have time to teach courses, mentor students, and remain at the forefront of my research in biomedicine. My job would allow me to travel and meet other researchers.

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