Loving those long days in the oncology lab

Emma Chory spends 14 hours a day in a medical oncology laboratory at the Dana-Farber Cancer Institute, testing the potential of many different drug therapies to treat rare forms of cancer — and she looks forward to every day.

“Research is hard, and it’s easy to get frustrated, but it’s impossible to fail if you love what you do,” said Chory, a fourth-year chemical engineering major at Northeastern University who plans to pursue a PhD in bioengineering after graduating in the spring. “Even if your experiment fails, you are still one step closer to a cure.”

Chory is one of more than a dozen undergraduate students from across the country participating in the Steamboat Foundation’s 10-week Summer Scholars Program. She received $12,000 from the foundation, which supports students who show potential for becoming leaders in their chosen field.

Every year, one student is selected from each of the foundation’s partner universities to complete an internship with one of the foundation’s grant partners, in fields ranging from health care to hospitality.

Chory — a Trumbull, Connecticut, native who grew up playing with legos and building bridges with Popsicle sticks — relishes the opportunity to network and learn from fellow Steamboat Scholars in fields such as marketing, fashion design and art history.

As she put it, “I was drawn to the program because it’s a really good chance to learn from people who are so different and unique and have different goals and ambitions.”

Conducting research on cell-adhesion phenomena in Northeastern’s Biological Surface Engineering and Microfluidics Laboratory prepared Chory for her role at Dana-Farber.

“At Northeastern, I learned so many good lab techniques that I use in my research everyday,” she said. “I’m so lucky.”

Chemical engineering associate professor Shashi Murthy, who runs the microfluidics lab, praised the student-researcher’s work ethic.

“Emma is a very motivated student who made big contributions to work in my lab, from data analysis to understanding the bigger picture of what she was doing,” he said. “It was very impressive.”