Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Miranda Johnson
Occupation: Laboratory Technician
Education (UR and additional): B.A. English/Brain & Cognitive Sciences, University of Rochester (Class of 2013)
Current city/state/country of residence: Rochester, NY
Current Community activities: N/A
Why did you choose to attend the University of Rochester?
When I toured campus all of the students and faculty with whom I interacted were very friendly – I was really impressed by the welcoming atmosphere at the University. I was also drawn to the Rochester curriculum which allows a lot of freedom with regard to course selection.
When and how did you choose your major(s)?
I knew from the beginning that I wanted to be an English major. My first semester, I took the introductory BCS course with the intention of pursuing it as my natural sciences cluster, and I loved it. After taking two more BCS courses, I found that I wanted to learn more, and thanks to the amount of freedom in my schedule I was able to turn BCS into a second major.
What resources did you use on campus that you would recommend current students use?
The Study Abroad Office is wonderfully helpful and makes it very easy for students to study abroad. I was able to study for a semester at the University of Oxford in England (where I was able to take both English and Experimental Psychology, similar to BCS, courses) without having to pay more than regular Rochester tuition. My senior year I attended some seminars at the Career Center which helped me with job search strategies and creating a resume.
What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?
I performed frequently (as a vocalist) with No Jackets Required and held an executive board position in the club for a semester. I was also an active member / executive board member in the Rochester Secular Student Alliance, and my last semester senior year I was the graphic designer for the Students’ Association. The leadership positions I held really helped me to “come out of my shell” and work better in groups.
What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take this path?
I accepted a position as a laboratory technician for the Information Processing Lab here at the University of Rochester. The BCS Undergraduate Coordinator is very good about forwarding job opportunities to BCS majors and I learned of the position opening in this way.
What do you do now and why did you choose this career?
I am still a lab technician for the Information Processing Lab. It is an EEG laboratory and we are currently doing research to try to develop a more objective measure for diagnosing Alzheimer’s disease. I chose this career because I wanted to acquire more research experience before pursuing graduate school and the research being done in this lab is both fascinating and critical to furthering our understanding of a very common disease.
What skills, tools, or knowledge from your major have been most useful to you since graduation?
The ability to think and reason critically has been far more useful to me than any specific knowledge I learned in college. My writing has also vastly improved since I entered college, and being able to express yourself well is very important when trying to find a job or excel at most jobs.
How you are still connected with the University?
I am currently employed full-time by the University.
What is your fondest memory of the University?
My sophomore year the squash team hosted a “fan bus” to attend a squash tournament at Yale University. I didn’t know anything about squash, but the tickets were cheap and they included both bus fare and a night’s hotel stay. A group of friends and I went together and had a blast! We learned that squash is a very intense sport and that Rochester’s team is one of the best in the nation.
What advice do you have for current students?
Take advantage of undergraduate research opportunities – they are plentiful at Rochester. Even if you don’t see any openings on the student job board, send out emails to different professors and labs on campus, and it is very likely one will take you on as a volunteer research assistant. This will look great on your resume, especially if you plan to pursue a job in research after graduation or attend graduate school.