Shortly after graduating, ’19 alumna Uma Fogueri was approached by Philanthropic Advisor Lauren Wise with questions about Fogueri’s time on campus completing her PhD in Pharmaceutical Sciences though the University of Colorado Skaggs School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences. Here’s how Uma responded to the questions:
Tell me about your career and why you chose this career path.
I come from a well-educated family in India where education was always the primary focus.
I knew I wanted to learn more and I enjoyed asking questions. My first experience with research was at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO) in Goa, my work involved isolating bioactive metabolites from marine sponges. I enjoyed the process of researching, and that is how I got introduced to research.
Tell me about your student experience at CU.
Grad school is a very difficult time in everyone’s life. Without help and support, it is nearly impossible to get through it. There were times when I felt like quitting/ giving up. I did face my share of “grad student problems” at CU but also glad I got help from my good friends and awesome faculty members at Skaggs School of Pharmacy who helped me navigate the PhD program. I’m rather proud that I didn’t quit. I defended in May 2019 and today I am working as a Scientist at a Pharmaceutical company in North Carolina.
What inspired you to attend CU?
All of the great research being performed at CU drew my attention. In my own lab, I got the best exposure to different facets of research. I learned a lot (invitro, invivo and insilico work) that made me very marketable for a job. I never had a problems getting interviews and I got a job without any inside connections in the company, all because of my extensive research experience at CU. If this had not been the case, finding a job straight of school could have been extremely challenging.
Tell me about your most proud professional moment.
My most proud professional moment was winning the Outstanding Graduate Student Award in 2017, which is given to students who are at the top level in their graduate career with respect to research, classes, attending conferences and presenting their work. I am also proud to have gotten the opportunity to present my work nationally and internationally at various pharma conferences (AAPS, ASN, ISSX, GPEN). On a more personal level, I feel very accomplished having built great friendships/relationships at CU, from friends to staff to faculty members to the Associate Dean. For me personally, I treasure these relationships more than any monetary awards.
Tell me about your inspiration for wanting to stay connected with CU as an alumna.
Graduate students have many struggles throughout the program, and I was no different. I want to stay connected so I can help students who are struggling at any stage during the PhD process. Having awareness of and access to the many resources available to graduate students is vital to succeeding throughout the program. For me, one of my very close friends, Dr. Christine MacBrayne (CU graduate), helped me find and access the right resource for my needs at the time.
I am passionate about getting students the help they need throughout the program. I think CU does a great job of making sure students are doing well/ staying sane during this extremely stressful journey, I’d like to help make sure students know that help is available, no matter your struggle. Now, I am part of a mental health organization here in NC where I volunteer during my free time to help people struggling with stress / mental health issues.
What do you like to do for fun?
Hiking (living in Colorado for six years inspired me to explore some of the most amazing trails), swimming, cooking (I started experimenting with cooking during quarantine time), practicing occult sciences (numerology: which is one of my BIGGEST passions)
What are your plans for the future? Where are you currently working and what is it like?I plan to contribute to the healthcare sector and help in making medications available to the market as soon as possible. Now with COVID19 virus- I think everyone has realized the importance of prescribed drugs and vaccines and the role they play in our daily life. I received great training at CU and now I want to apply my knowledge to the “real world of drug development.” I love what I do, and I’ve always loved research since undergrad. Even during the pursuit of my PhD, I spent countless hours in the lab just for the love of it. I’m glad I can apply my knowledge now. I am also working with my previous industry mentors to publish my industry work. Currently, I’m with a pharmaceutical company based in North Carolina.