Yoshitaka Goto began in bioengineering as a direct freshman admit and is now a senior. He is actively involved with iGEM, where he has served several leadership roles. He also represented the UW team at the 2016 and 2017 iGEM International Competition, where they won bronze and silver, respectively. He currently works in Dr. Herbert Sauro’s lab, where he performs computational modelling of E. coli and investigates how specific genetic pathways may alter the bacteria’s behavior, specifically with resource drain and cost.

“I was actually in the previous cohort, and a lot of people don’t know that because I don’t really talk about it. Before coming to UW, I didn’t feel challenged in high school, so I never developed study habits. Instead, I spent my time in high school doing research at UW, and I’m really thankful because if I didn’t, I probably wouldn’t be in BioE. My freshman year at UW was a huge culture and lifestyle shock. I didn’t know how to study, I didn’t know how to take exams, and I had friends who wanted to go into BioE who would do much better than me in classes. By the end of freshman year, I felt that I wasn’t cut out to be in BioE and actually thought about dropping out of the major.

At that point, I was very stressed and thought, ‘This is not going well,’ so I actually took a year off. I ended up going on an overseas leadership program called Leadership Task Force, a pilot program by the Family Peace Association which brought together college students from all over the world.. We were based at their headquarters in Korea, and from there we developed teamwork, organization, and speaking skills to effectively raise funds and run service or educational projects in other countries. I went to the Philippines, Nepal, Malaysia, and Mongolia, and at every location, my team and I partnered with the local communities to provide a long-term and sustainable service.

I came back with more willingness to engage with people and to take more responsibility, but at the same time, I had a more open mind of what was available to me. I realized that UW is a big place, which is a little overwhelming. But it also has every single opportunity you can think of, if you look for it. I came back basically a different person, and I had a better sense of purpose of why I wanted to go through university and be in the BioE program.

I personally believe that every single human being wants to help other people. And they might not be doing it the right way, or people might not agree that they’re doing it the right way, but I do believe every person on earth wants to help other people. A lot of people who say ‘I don’t know what I want to do’ are still passionate about something. I think that if you have those interests and you’re clueless, I recommend stepping out of your comfort zone and what you ‘should’ be doing, and trying something different.”