St. John's Offers Real-World Opportunities to Visiting Fulbrighter
When Lucas Montero ’15GP was awarded a Fulbright grant to study biotechnology at a university in the United States, he sought a school that provided "real-world" training, such as a mandatory internship, and that offered the diversity of a large, metropolitan city. "I found all this,” he observed, “at St. John's."
Montero completed the Master of Science program for Biological and Pharmaceutical Biotechnology last semester. A native of Buenos Aires, he noted that studying abroad fulfills a lifelong dream." I loved attending classes at a diverse campus within New York City,” he said. “I was able to enjoy the city in the midst of my studies." He graduated with a perfect GPA, and is a recipient of the Certificate of Excellence.
As an undergraduate, Montero studied biochemistry and pharmacy but became interested in biotechnology as his studies progressed. After working for several years at companies that tested new therapeutic agents in their latter stages, Montero decided to pursue the Fulbright.
"I wanted to be involved in the earlier stages of drug development,” he said. “To do so meant going back to college to acquire new technical skills. I always wanted to study abroad, so I started looking for programs all over the world.” The Fulbright Program, the flagship international educational exchange initiative sponsored by the US government, was an obvious place to start.
Montero quickly felt at home at St. John's, and the biotech program, met his academic needs. "Classes are offered by different departments in St. John's College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and the College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences,” he said, “so the program is interdisciplinary, full of electives that allow students to personalize their own academic experience."
Small classes and the availability of faculty enhanced his learning learning experience. “Professors are always willing to meet and discuss course-related topics,” he said, “and anything else you’re interested in.”
Last semester, he interned at Technovax, a company specializing in developing next-generation vaccines for unmet medical needs, Montero noted that the biotech industry is thriving, and plans to work there this summer.
"Today, with the advancement of biotech tools, it is possible to mass produce human proteins,” he said. “This allows us to produce safer and more effective drugs, as we are using the same compounds that occur naturally in our bodies. I am interested in helping develop new therapeutic or preventive agents such as vaccines."