As a graduate student in biomedical engineering at Northwestern, Brian Aguado ’13 MS, ’15 PhD had a pivotal experience while running a laboratory in the University’s Oncofertility Saturday Academy. The program, which ran at Northwestern from 2007 to 2019, introduced girls in high school to science careers and research in fertility and cancer.
Aguado, a Colombian American, had connected with some of the Latina high schoolers by speaking with them in Spanish. When their parents let him know how meaningful it was for a scientist to speak their language, he had a revelation. “I realized how important it was to bring your full self to the laboratory and how it could have an impact on keeping students in STEM,” says Aguado, who has carried the lesson to his current job.
Now an assistant professor of bioengineering at the University of California, San Diego, he is committed to building an inclusive and supportive environment in his lab and through LatinXinBME, a social media initiative that he co-founded to connect and support Latinx scientists in all stages of their careers.
Aguado shared this and other important moments in his career on a recent episode of Northwestern Intersections, an award-winning podcast from the Northwestern Alumni Association (NAA) about the key experiences that have propelled alumni in their life’s work. Each episode highlights a Northwestern graduate who discusses their professional path and what they’ve learned at each juncture of their career.
The podcast, which is releasing new episodes every other week this fall, is one of several career resources offered by the NAA. Other resources include industry- and affinity-based mentorship programs, career and wellness webinars, and a job board for Northwestern students and alumni.
Since the podcast launched in 2018, more than 120 alumni of all ages, degrees and backgrounds have shared their unique career journeys in business, education, entertainment, politics and other fields. Episodes have also featured NAA program and club volunteers, from recent alumni who participated in a panel discussion on their postgraduate lives to the alumni behind the Northwestern University Pride Alumni Club podcast Who NU?, which features stories of LGBTQIA+ alumni.
Northwestern Intersections is hosted by Catherine Reckelhoff, the NAA’s assistant director of career advancement. Reckelhoff says future episodes will feature more graduate alumni like Aguado, who also talked about his influential mentors and equity-based approach to biomedical engineering and offered advice for postdocs. The podcast, which can be heard on most major streaming platforms, will also highlight more international alumni sharing their professional experiences outside the United States. And Reckelhoff will continue to feature alumni of all identities and from a range of industries.
“Our goal is to increase a feeling of community, belonging and inclusivity with Northwestern alumni, using the podcast to make connections and ensure that alumni voices are valued and heard,” Reckelhoff says.