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Alumni Connections

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Maria Mo

Company: Lumos Dermatology
Title: Medical Assistant

Why did you choose this industry/profession?

Fascinated by the idea of pattern recognition, I studied organic chemistry and pre-medicine as an undergraduate. My recent work as a medical assistant in dermatology, sparked my curiosity for the formulation of skin care and beauty products and the chemical patterns behind them. Putting aside my plans for medicine for now, I am currently looking to embark on a career in cosmetic and consumer products chemistry. 

How did Rochester prepare you for this?

U of R has one of the strongest honors organic chemistry lab programs that I've been fortunate enough to be a part of. The way the course was structured to seamlessly intertwine lessons from lab, lecture, and workshop, significantly influenced my passion for organic chemistry. The teaching assistants also played a large role in ensuring that all students were participating to foster a sense of togetherness. I strongly believe that this multifaceted way of teaching engaged all learning styles and provided a large spectrum of resources to allow for every student to succeed.

Towards the end of my junior year, I also joined Professor Robert K Boeckman's organic synthesis lab. The project I worked on throughout the year, required me to utilize very similar laboratory procedures and synthetic chemistry skills that would be required of me in the cosmetic chemistry positions I am currently pursuing. The abounding opportunities for research at University of Rochester and the connections I've made through the University's Chemistry Department and Career Center have been incredibly useful in helping me make the career shift from medicine into consumer goods chemistry.

Do you have any advice or insights for students?

If you aren't 110% sure about going into medicine or engineering or getting a PhD, entertain various career paths early on in your undergraduate career. And diversify your network! It's significantly easier to build relationships with mentors, advisors, and colleagues who can provide you with the connections and the knowledge/wisdom you may later need, on a college campus than when you are on your own after graduating.

Even if you are a bit shy and timid like I am, work on building that confidence to ask for help from people when you need it. You'd be surprised by how often people are willing to offer their assistance. But once you find yourself to be where you want to be through the help of others, it is also important to pay their kindness forward!

Lastly, I've recently learned that it is key to surround yourself with people who support you and inspire you to be better than you already are. Your friends and family tend to be your support system so if you find yourself feeling drained by someone's negativity, it's okay to put yourself and your emotional health first and step away from those who take away from your energy.

I'd be happy to speak with anyone personally if they would like to hear more about my post-undergrad experiences as well as my struggles in making a career change. They can reach out to me at this email:  and I look forward to hearing from you