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Sandra’s Path to DNA Sequencing

By Adelina, March 20, 2019

When she was 14 years old, Sandra Liu (劉慎方) left Taiwan to study at San Domenico High School in the San Francisco Bay Area of the United States. Maybe because it was an all-girl high school tucked away in a quiet location far away from the city, or maybe it’s because she used to join summer language camps in the US when she was much younger, studying alone, far away from her family, but Sandra never felt out of place.

Photo Courtesy: Sandra Liu

After high school, she went to the University of California, Berkeley to pursue Molecular and Cell Biology Major. Again, in her class, there were very few international students. Sandra did not have any close friends in her study group to support her. She faced many challenging classes all by herself. Most of her classmates were super smart and yet they still study very hard to catch up with the demanding curriculum.


The curriculum of her chosen major, in Sandra’s opinion, provides a solid foundation in basic science such as biology, physics, chemistry, and biochemistry. This foundation provides a broad range of opportunities after graduation. Students could choose from an array of choices ranging from advanced research in graduate study, industry, and medical schools.


In Sandra’s senior year, she enrolled in the MCB Honors Program and she worked in the Lishko Lab as an undergraduate researcher. She spent many hours in the lab studying the molecular mechanism of steroid hormone influence on pancreatic function and insulin secretion.


After graduation, she interned at Thermo Fisher Scientific, the world leader in serving science. She was working on the application team with a focus on developing next-generation sequencing application assays for hospitals and researchers.


Later, she was converted to a full-time employee at Thermo Fisher. Now she is helping to optimize sequencing processes such as reagents conservation and shortening the sequencing run time.


When Sandra is not at work, she likes to play piano, explore new restaurants, and hike. In fact, she started taking piano lessons at age of seven and reached piano level 10 during high school.


By studying abroad at a young age, Sandra learned to develop a holistic approach. Embedded in the local culture while still maintaining her own native culture, she tries to maintain a balance and make the best out of two cultures; one plus one can amount to more than two benefits. Plus, with self-discipline and hard work, Sandra sees her potential as unlimited. While charging ahead to unlock the mysteries of DNA sequencing, Sanda plans to study at a graduate school in a related field in the near future.


(Photo Courtesy: Sandra Liu)