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Natalya Ortolano


I am a Ph. D. candidate at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, TN. I’ve always been interested in understanding how things work. As an undergraduate and graduate researcher, I’ve dedicated myself to understanding human development. I use stem cells to characterize the role of protein degradation in stem cell differentiation to neurons. When I was a kid, you could always find my nose in a book, and I dreamed of being a novelist. In high school I read Richard Preston’s book The Hotzone detailing the Ebola outbreak, and I was hooked on science research. In graduate school I realized that I enjoyed reading papers, writing grants, and presenting my research more than doing experiments at the bench. I started writing articles for university news outlets, and I’ve been writing science news articles ever since. I became the communications co-chair in the Committee for Postdocs and Students in American Society for Cell Biology (ASCB). I edit and write posts for ASCB’s The Post and have been featured in their newsletter. I’m also a member of the NPR Scicommers group, a community that helped me become a better writer and publish an article in Scientific American. If I’m not writing or taking care of my stem cells, you can find me at a dog park with my border collie Roux, becoming overly invested in a TV show, reading, or playing board games.


Natalya Ortolano stands in front of a brick building.

Vanderbilt University

Fellowship Sponsor: American Association for the Advancement of Science

Fellowship Host: STAT