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Purva is a Biology Master’s student at UC San Diego, where she is studying liver cancer and stem cells.

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"Apply to internships and research programs! Do not wait for someone to give you something, rather go out and get it!"

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Purva Parwal
Class of 2017



My career roadmap has been somewhat defined.

I went from fashion model to zoologist all the way to becoming a doctor because I read a book about the reproductive system. I found joy in biology because humans are an incredibly interesting species.

I thought about a variety of professions to pursue in medicine changing from pediatrics to neurosurgery to cardiology.

I switched to biomedical engineering for a little bit once I joined the robotics team that is part of the WSH district in 10th grade.

I realized physics is incredibly hard (after completing the physics 200 series at COC) and I decided to not pursue engineering. It simply seemed too difficult for me, but that is a regret of mine. I wish I had not doubted myself and pursued what truly interested me.

At UCSD I joined a lab my second quarter in and I considered research; however, I did not like working with animals which caused me to waver and angle towards industry work instead. I still work with mice, but eventually I hope to move away from that!

I realized the biotech industry would be a great fit for me after I won 3rd place in an electrical and computer engineering competition where my team and I worked with Parkinson’s patients. Patients who then reached out to me to continue the work done.

A great benefit to industry work is having a master’s degree, which led to my choice to get my master’s degree. I already have a paper published and this will help me gain more experience in a laboratory that will help me to stand out in the job sector!



Here are my extracurriculars relevant to this pathway


  • Project 691 Robotics 

  • Associated Student Body

  • National Honor Society


  • Joined a cancer research lab in my first year.

  • Published a paper and had 2 poster presentations at the 2019 Endocrinology conference in New Orleans

  • Started my own research project which is now my focus for my Master’s degree

  • Won 3rd place in an electrical and computer engineering design competition focused on Parkinson’s patients

  • Helped start a club for women in science at UC San Diego


What I'm currently doing/hope to do

With my Master’s degree, I plan to enter the biotech industry. I already know several different research techniques that will be applicable for my future and currently I am simply working to develop that experience further with my own project. I am researching the possibilities of cancer stem cells in the livers of mice with a specific knockout. In addition, I am involved in Women in Science Society, a chapter I started at UC San Diego to help people intimidated by the STEM field feel more comfortable and prepared for their futures.


How to maximize my time in high school?

  • Advice #1: Take lab classes seriously because my lab loved that I had worked with animals prior to college and that was why they hired me despite having just entered as a freshman.

  • Advice #2: Apply to positions at your university, do not wait for someone to give you something, rather go out and get it! Whether that is by applying online or talking to professors, you will not be handed opportunities, but they are available so take advantage of them!

  • Advice #3: Be involved! Join clubs, talk to professors, compete in competitions, and more! It makes the whole college experience more enjoyable and it helps to build your interpersonal skills.

  • Advice #4: If you have the space, try to include a couple classes that are less related to your major, just to try it out and see if you are certain about your major.

  • Advice #5: Go and meet with a counselor during your first quarter to plan out your classes and maybe get some requirements removed. They will help you see what classes you need to take and it helps you get your bearings!

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