Treatment for autoimmune disorders
Karenna Rehorn is a junior studying biomedical engineering with an emphasis in cellular and tissue engineering. In the future she hopes to focus on helping individuals with autoimmune disorders.
Rehorn is a DJ at the campus radio station, KDVS. Other interests include running, playing the flute, volunteering at the UC Davis farm and cooking.
Describe your project or venture.
For the past few months, I have been working in a microbiology/immunology lab in Davis called Evolve BioSystems. I am beginning to learn tissue culturing, and I have been refining my general lab skills in the process.
In addition, I am vice president of the Student Lab Manager Program and Implementation in the BioInnovation Group at UC Davis. This organization maintains an open lab space for students to gain laboratory skills, design thinking and professional development.
What’s important about your field of study—and where do you hope to take it?
I am most interested in immunology and now, more specifically, the way the microorganisms interact with the immune system. The body and bacteria interactions that occur in your body are not very well understood, and I believe that the key to understanding many immune system disorders can be found in the body’s microbiome. In the future, I hope to continue to study and learn about host and bacteria interactions, with the goal of identifying or developing a treatment for autoimmune disorders.
What are you most passionate about in your work/education?
I am most passionate about better understanding immune and microbiology interactions within the body and improving my leadership abilities.
What was the most important thing you learned during EQUIP?
I learned how to use my resources. Before EQUIP, I had no idea of what resources were available to me and how I could use them. But now I have learned that help is everywhere, you just need to know where to look!
Tell us about your experience at the career fair.
The career fair was the first I had attended in my college career, so I was a little nervous and unsure how it was going to go.
When I arrived, I did some “warmups” with recruiters who were not high priority on my list of companies I wanted to talk to. They went well and I was beginning to get more confident. So I decided to go for one of the companies that I definitely wanted to intern for, Antibodies Inc. They are an immunology-focused company, and that is my target field for my future career. I finally got my turn—and it did not go very well. I could not read the recruiter’s facial expressions, he was asking questions that I did not have enough biology knowledge to answer, and I felt pretty terrible about it. I thought that I looked like I had no idea what I was talking about, and I was a novice who should wait to intern later.
I was discouraged and ready to leave, but first checked in with Lynn [Fowler of the UC Davis Internship and Career Center]. She encouraged me to try one more; specifically, she thought that I would have a good talk with the AbbVie recruiter.
I figured that it couldn’t hurt, so I got into the long line and waited. I made sure to pay attention to how the conversations before me were going and took some mental notes. When it was my turn, I decided to just own up if I did not know everything.
Our conversation was very engaging—and I was just being myself! We talked about my future interests and my passions, and he responded very positively. At the end of our talk, he encouraged me to apply for the summer internship. I was elated! Lesson of the day: it can’t hurt to try again; even if think you might fail, you never really know what could happen.
What is the most important thing you discovered in EQUIP?
I discovered that I have many of the tools and skills to be successful present within me already. EQUIP showed me how to channel and implement them to further my career. It not only gave me confidence in my natural skills but showed me what I could improve on so that I can reach higher.
How will your experiences help you to change the world?
I believe that through my experience of working in an immunology/microbiology lab and being on the leadership team for the BioInnovation Group, I will be able to lead a team to impact the way we treat autoimmune disorders.
I did not realize how many resources I could tap into to achieve my goals. Once I began to use the resources available to me, I started my professional career.
How will your experiences as an EQUIP Fellow shape your professional future?
My time in the EQUIP program has set me on my professional career. It gave me the start I needed. I had known that I can be successful in my career, I just did not know where to start. Through informational interviews—a skill taught at EQUIP—I could land upper-leadership positions at the BioInnovation Group. I will continue to apply the networking and career development skills I learned in EQUIP to to move up and improve on my skills throughout my future biotechnology career.