Alan Cabrera is a senior in BioE currently working in the Seelig Lab. Between his coursework and research, Alan works as an advisor for iGEM, trains with the Husky Cycling Club, works as a grader for one of the BioE core courses and organizes outreach events for neighboring community college students to increase interest in BioE.

“I actually dropped out of high school and spent a couple years working. I worked in a warehouse making sure that rental medical equipment was ready to be rented again. It paid okay, and I wasn’t that interested in pursuing higher learning–I was more interested in partying and hanging out. I had a hedonistic life view (stemming from an existential crisis, where nothing really seemed to matter) and saw no reason to apply myself. If I went to college back then, I probably wouldn’t have done well.

Eventually I decided to go to community college for nutrition and completed all the prereqs to transfer to Bastyr University, but became disillusioned with the disarray of the field. I was also taking microbiology and cell biology at the time, which got me interested in synthetic biology and bioengineering. From there, I just tried to get all the prereqs done and applied to UW BioE.

The first time I was ever in Foege was orientation night. It wasn’t the most traditional route to the UW, but I would rather it happened this way than not at all. The transition was a bit difficult. I started core, and had to take BIOEN 215 and differential equations that first quarter, so it was pretty rough. I didn’t know many people, but thankfully the cohort has some cool folks that I got to know pretty quickly. This year, I have worked to provide community college students information and resources that I didn’t have, or at least didn’t utilize.

I spread myself around a little too thin sometimes. I’m working as an advisor for iGEM now and have been trying to figure out projects. I actually went to the iGEM Jamboree in Boston last year and met with UW BioE alums at MIT. I also ran a half marathon while I was there. The half marathon was pretty intense because I didn’t do any reconnaissance or anything like that. I ran a personal record time, but I was in pain for the next week.

I’d like to go into industry and have a principal investigator-like role, having more control over projects instead of being assigned repetitious, mind-numbing tasks. I would like to come up with solutions. We’ll see what happens.”