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Aaron Stella

Michael Doane

Michael Doane, Chemical Engineering, Biology

Aaron Stella
“There are so many different programs and entities that all build on each other and combine to give you anything you’re willing to get out of your undergraduate experience.”
Michael Doane is squeezing every experience he can out of his time at UMass Lowell.

Doane, who left community college in Hayward, Calif., when his mother was diagnosed with cancer, decided to return to college after she died and followed his fiancée to Massachusetts. He plans to become a cancer researcher.

“Cancer is a peculiar and fascinating thing,” he says. “An accumulation of genetic accidents can cause it, so there are lots of different ways we can try to target it.”

He’s well on his way. The honors student started off majoring in chemical engineering, then added a second major in biology. He also has three minors: in physics, biomedical engineering and math.

He got a work-study job doing computer modeling with Asst. Prof. Seongkyu Yoon that turned into an Honors College research fellowship. He has worked with biology Professor Matthew Nugent on emphysema-related research and with chemical engineering Asst. Prof. Prakash Rai on nanotherapy in pancreatic cancer, too.

Those experiences helped him win a National Science Foundation fellowship last summer at the University of Alabama, where he created a computer simulation of glioblastoma cell clusters for use in drug research. This led to his winning a prestigious, $7,500 Goldwater Scholarship for students who plan to pursue academic research careers in the sciences.

“I’m so happy I came to UMass Lowell. There’s an abundance of research opportunities and everything’s been very progressive here,” he says. “There are so many different programs and entities that all build on each other and combine to give you anything you’re willing to get out of your undergraduate experience.”

Other experiences he’s taken advantage of include the professional co-op program and participation in the DifferenceMaker competition. Doane is completing a co-op at pharmaceutical giant Pfizer Inc., testing new equipment and processes for biotechnology research, and he plans to do a second co-op before he graduates.

Meanwhile, he’s also working on a design for an anaerobic biodigester that can convert manure into methane gas and fertilizer. Biodigester-Aided Solutions in Haiti (B.A.S.H.) is a team effort that began as a 2016 DifferenceMaker project and continues through the university’s Haiti Development Studies Center.

What hasn’t he done? Study abroad.

“I’m still trying to figure out how to fit that in,” he says.