After completing her bachelor’s in bioengineering in Singapore, Nikitha Jayachandran, ME’18, was unsure of her future in the field. She originally chose bioengineering because she wanted to study something related to medicine, but not surgical.

Through her courses, she found that she liked the biology side of her field but wasn’t as drawn to engineering. She decided to attend Northeastern for her MS in bioengineering after seeing that it offered a concentration in cell and tissue engineering, which satisfied her interest in focusing on the biological aspect.

For her master’s project, Nikitha studied regenerative medicine at the Advanced Drug Delivery Research Lab under Professor & Associate Chair of Research Rebecca Carrier. Her work involved finding a way to regenerate retinal cells without conducting a transplant.

Nikitha also completed a co-op at bluebird bio, a Massachusetts-based biotechnology company, in their vector biology department where she actively helped to create viral vectors.

Her supervisor was very helpful over the course of her co-op, asking what her goals were and helping her reach them. In addition to learning techniques needed for her field, she strengthened her communication skills throughout the experience.

She became a mentee for many of the full-time employees and often presented her work to groups of scientists, which was initially more challenging than presenting to fellow students.

As a graduate student, Nikitha felt welcome at Northeastern. The students in her field had a tight-knit community, often hosting group dinners and both social and academic events on and off campus.

Between co-ops and research opportunities, Nikitha feels that Northeastern’s programs “make you well-rounded.”

“You learn the practical application of everything you learn,” she said.

Since graduating in 2018, Nikitha has returned to bluebird bio in the same department under a different manager. She learned most of what she needed to become an Associate Scientist in Vector Biology on her co-op.

“The transition has been really easy,” she said.