Bruinlife’s 2018 UCLA Senior of the Year Mercedes Cornelius (BS ’18) is a guest on the first season of new web series Nerd Girl Nation.
Mercedes, currently on a year-long research internship in pharmaceutical sciences at Peking University Health Science Center, is a guest on episode 9of Nerd Girl Nation, which will air in July 2019. The series premiered on November 5, 2018.
Mercedes was an undergraduate research fellow with nanoscientist Professor Paul Weiss (UCLA Department of Chemistry & Biochemistry) and bioengineer Professor Ali Khademhosseini (UCLA Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering and Radiology). Combining these two mentorships, Mercedes studied the microenvironment and metastasis of Ewing Sarcoma on a microfluidic chip device. She also studied the bio markers of the disease, which is a devastating pediatric bone cancer with a high rate of reoccurrence.
“Cancer is a particular field I want to impact in health care and I feel that understanding the immunological check points of this disease is important for understanding it’s initiation in the human body for further analysis,” Mercedes said. “It is really an honor to know these two incredible scientists, and I look forward to their future advances in the field.”
According to the show’s website, the series features “comedic hosts geeking-out with their guests: young, passionate women in Science, Technology, Engineering, Art, and Mathematics (STEAM) fields.”
“It was an awesome experience to be part of such a great show,” said Mercedes. “I believe in empowering and encouraging more youth to pursue the physical sciences.”
Mercedes graduated from UCLA in 2018 with bachelor degrees in Biophysics and Applied Mathematics and a concentration in biochemistry with an emphasis on pre-medical studies. While at UCLA, she founded the National Society of Empowered Youth: a youth-led non-profit that seeks to break the barriers in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM). Her work has been recognized by several organizations – IEEE Women in Engineering, a global leading women’s engineering magazine; the Michael and Susan Dell Foundation; and the Jackie Robinson Foundation. In 2018, Mercedes was selected by Bruinlife yearbook as a 2018 Senior of the Year. Her ultimate goal is to be a physician scientist in hematology oncology with a specialization in pediatric oncology and to lead her own research group, drug companies, and clinics.
Mercedes was recruited to appear on Nerd Girl Nation by UCLA faculty after expressing her passion for the sciences during academic appearances and meetings. “I wasn’t hard to find,” said Mercedes. “I talk about science every chance I get – I represented UCLA research sciences in three different states abroad, I was appointed to the student educational board, and I participated in many research events.” An avid Albert Einstein fan, Mercedes loves talking about science so much that her friends have nicknamed her “MCSquared”.
Nerd Girls Inc. is a global movement dedicated to encouraging and inspiring girls and young women to pursue careers in STEM. Learn more on their social media pages, Instagram: nerdgirlnation, Twitter: nerdgirls, and Facebook: nerdgirlnation.
Nerd Girls was founded by Dr. Karen Panetta, a professor and Dean at Tufts University and an IEEE Fellow, to empower female engineering students and challenge the myths about women in the profession. One of Nerd Girls’ main goals, to “redefine nerd,” aims to debunk stereotypes and serve as a catalyst in shifting the negative results of current female portrayal in the media through positive messaging, opportunities, and support for young women. The Nerd Girl Nation web series, which was directed by Paola di Florio, is cohosted by Dr. Panetta and Craig “Lowie” Low, an award-winning Australian comedian, TV host, radio host, and writer.
“I encourage women who are interested in appearing on the show to watch season one episodes to get an idea of the type of people who are on the show,” said Mercedes. “I also recommend they visit the Nerd Girl Nation website for casting calls for season two episodes. There will always be a need for more Nerd Girls!”