Alumni Hour: Lauren Friend ’19, Volleyball Read more about Lauren Friend, and what she has been up to since joining the Chapman Athletics Alumni Family
March 31, 2023
What have you been doing since graduating from Chapman?
Since graduating from Chapman, I’ve been keeping myself quite busy! When I’m not working, I love being outside and active. I’m an avid snowboarder and I also enjoy mountain biking and surfing when the weather isn’t as snowy. I still make time to play beach volleyball when the weather cooperates here in the city. And, of course, as a self-proclaimed foodie, I’m always excited to try as many new restaurants as possible here in San Francisco.
After completing my undergrad degree, I was fortunate enough to land an internship at NASA Glenn research center in machine learning for bio-inspired design. This opportunity was a continuation of my Chapman undergrad research in the Fudge lab on hagfish biomechanics. While I was there, I also received an offer to attend grad school at Columbia University, where I pursued a masters degree in biomedical engineering. Concurrently, I was accepted for a job at NASA Ames Research Center in Silicon Valley, where I worked on life detection on icy worlds.
During grad school, I also had the opportunity to do research in the Azizi Computational Chemistry laboratory, where I used unsupervised machine learning to investigate the cell-cell interactions behind breast cancer tumors. Working at NASA throughout grad school and as my first full-time role after grad school was an incredible experience. I worked on missions ranging from life detection on icy worlds to a COVID-19 breathalyzer. One of the highlights of my time at NASA was when, at the age of 22, I received generous grant funding and was the principal investigator of a research project developing a microfluidic biodosimeter for long-duration space flight.
While I loved my work at NASA Ames, I ultimately decided that I wanted to work on human healthcare and the fight against cancer. So, I made the decision to leave NASA and join Johnson and Johnson, where I’m currently working on the Monarch platform. It’s a soft-bodied robot that’s revolutionizing lung cancer biopsy. I’m on the Algorithms & AI team and I’m currently working on our minimally invasive urology platform that’s currently in its first clinical trial. It’s been a wild ride so far, but I wouldn’t have it any other way!
How did your time as a student-athlete at Chapman shape your post-graduation experience?
After finishing up my undergraduate studies, I decided to head to grad school. I know it may sound unusual, but I’m pretty sure that I’m one of the only people who entered grad school and actually had more time on my hands than ever before! As a former student-athlete, I had become an expert at time-management and it really paid off during my grad school years. In fact, I would say that my experience as a student-athlete has served me well in my post-college life.
I truly believe that playing sports in college was one of the best things I could have done for my future career. In those first few years after graduation, “student-athlete” was still one of the top keywords on my LinkedIn profile, and I think it really helped employers find me and understand what I was all about. So, never underestimate the value of having played college sports! It teaches you important skills like leadership, teamwork, and perseverance that are essential for success in any field.
What are some of your favorite memories from your time as a student-athlete?
One of my favorite things about being a student-athlete at Chapman University was the strong sense of camaraderie and team spirit. There are a few memories that really stand out to me:
First, before home games, our team would always meet in the locker room and someone would act out a dramatic flight of our mascot, Pete the Panther, battling it out with the opposing team’s mascot. It was such a fun tradition and really helped to get us pumped up before the game.
Secondly, during pre-season double days, our coach Mary would occasionally surprise us with an afternoon off of practice. It was such a special treat and gave us a chance to bond and rest together as a team.
Finally, some of my favorite memories were the dramatic underdog wins we had. As a team, we had a rule that we never lose game 5 and when we were in the final stretch of a tight match, everyone’s energy would shift. Winning those games knowing that we had given it our all was always such an incredible feeling.
Overall, my time as a student-athlete at Chapman was filled with amazing memories that I will always cherish. The bond that I formed with my teammates during those years is something that will stay with me for the rest of my life.
Anything else you want to add/say to the alumni!
Go Panthers! I sure hope that the Student Athlete Advisory Council is still going strong. I am so proud of the culture of camaraderie that is still continuing at Chapman.