iGEM Member Spotlight: Mary Elizabeth Adler


Mary Elizabeth is currently a freshman at Princeton University and is pursuing a degree in chemical and biological engineering. Mary Elizabeth first became interested in molecular biology while in middle school where she met an extraordinary science teacher who introduced her to genetics. This was a pivotal and influential moment leading her to take as many biology classes as she could handle in high school. The problem was that by the time Mary Elizabeth was a junior, she had taken all the biology classes offered. While speaking with a guidance counselor, she learned of a new iGEM team forming led by Roya Amini-Aaieni. At the time, SoundBio Lab had recently agreed to host this new high school science team in our space.

Mary Elizabeth was excited about the prospect of having access to a real lab and quickly got involved “I got to do the things I had always been reading about, like transforming bacteria and designing plasmids.” When asked about her time at SoundBio, Mary Elizabeth stated:

SoundBio and iGEM made me realize all the possibilities of science. SoundBio gave me the tools to start exploring those possibilities. This was transformative.
— Mary Elizabeth Adler

Having a hands-on learning opportunity while in high school provided something concrete to focus on regarding her future academic pursuits, and was a vital component of her college application process; she was able to discuss what she was actually doing, rather than simply stating ‘This is what I want to do’. Mary Elizabeth admitted that many of her initial experiments failed, however, since failure plays a major role in science she never felt discouraged. Through failure, we learn.

Mary Elizabeth forged new friendships and felt very warmly received. She appreciated that SoundBio provided both technical expertise and a welcoming environment. She believes a non-profit like SoundBio fills an important gap in hands-on learning. “I love that SoundBio gives kids, who maybe don’t have professors for parents, access to the tools they need to pursue science”. We couldn’t agree more!