Meet Faye Orcales – Genentech intern, PINC alum and CSC 508 Mentor.

21 Sep

Pleuni: Faye Orcales is a recent SFSU alum and I am lucky enough to be working with her this year thanks to an NSF supplement for post-bacc students. She is also a PINC alum and PINC mentor (for my class CSC 508: Machine Learning and Data Science for Personalized Medicine). This past summer, Faye was an intern at Genentech. We asked her to write about her experience!

My name is Faye and I’m a recent graduate from San Francisco State University. I obtained a bachelor’s degree in Cell and Molecular Biology with a minor in Computing Applications from the PINC Program.

I’m currently working under Daniel Le as a bioinformatics intern for Genentech’s Next Generation Sequencing Department.

Faye worked with Daniel Le at Genentech in the summer of 2021 (https://www.linkedin.com/in/daniel-le-compbio/)

In my junior year I got introduced to coding when I had to take a mandatory elective course. At first, I didn’t think I would like the subject. In contrast I found out that I had a genuine interest in coding, and mentioned it to a counselor. They told me about the PINC Program at SFSU, which is a coding program offered primarily to students majoring in biology, chemistry, or biochemistry. My interests aligned with the program, so I spent my last two years of university taking coding classes along with my regular biology courses.

I first obtained research and informatics experience under PINC’s Summer Program in 2020, where I worked with Dr. Rori Rohlfs and a group of other students. I went on to do more research with Dr. Pleuni Pennings in the CoDE Lab where I utilized machine learning to study impacts on fitness cost in Hepatitis C.

“I’ve known about Genentech ever since I was in middle school”

In senior year my PINC Program Director Dr. Nina Hosmane informed me about Genentech’s Summer Internship Program. I’ve known about Genentech ever since I was in middle school, so I’ve seen the scientific innovations that Genentech has built throughout the years. I decided to challenge myself and apply to the internship because I wanted to strengthen my coding skills and see what industry standard research looks like.

I was able to obtain the internship with much support from my connections in the PINC Program. They took the time to help me strengthen my resume and provide me interview resources. I highly recommend to anyone interested in applying to Genentech, or somewhere similar, to have their trusted peers or professors give them lots of feedback on their application materials.

My work ethic and inspiration to pursue higher learning came from my parents. My family came to the United States as immigrants when I was very young. I’ve seen my mom stay up long nights studying and my dad juggle three jobs all while raising two kids. My parents’ hard work allowed our family to survive in a new country, and taught me the importance of education and perseverance.  

“My scientific inspirations came from my middle school science teachers.”

My scientific inspirations came from my middle school science teachers. They were all women of color, so their representation had a big impact on me. Every lab I did in their classes were memorable. Their passion for science influenced my current curiosity for life and the universe.

In the future I would like to become a physician-scientist. At first, I only wanted to become a doctor. After my experience in the PINC Program and Genentech, I realized that I still wanted to continue doing research as a career. To have the best of both worlds, I hope to one day get accepted into an MD-PhD program to fulfill my biggest career goal.

Outside of research and science, I’m a big fan of food. Whenever I can, I love trying out new restaurants with friends. Luckily, I live in the bay area which is rich in cultural diversity.

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