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Natasha Matta

Story

My interest in the STEM fields was first sparked when I was a Phase I clinical trial patient in Stanford’s oral immunotherapy (OIT) program for my egg and milk allergies. In 2011, I met Dr. Kari Nadeau, who hypothesized that she could epigenetically alter immune responses to more than one food allergen at a time. I was one of the first 150 patients in the world to receive multi-food oral immunotherapy. OIT opened new doors to travel, eat at restaurants, and not live in constant fear of an allergic reaction. It is difficult for me to fathom how limited my life would still be if Dr. Nadeau had not sacrificed years of her salary to fund her research, taken a

chance on a young patient like myself, and broken new frontiers on multi-allergen immunotherapy. I hope to enact that same transformative impact on others’ lives through scientific research and innovative thinking like Dr. Nadeau did with mine.

Since then, I have explored genetics and molecular biology, bioinformatics, cancer biology, stem cell biology, neuroscience, psychology, public health, and AI through different summer programs and internships. I love working in the lab and have conducted research projects modeling the effects of chelation therapy on plaques in the Alzheimer's brain, synthesizing an organic, nontoxic pesticide for sericulture, and measuring the spread of bacteria via the feet of fruit flies in food processing plants. I am a member of the Vaccine Student Working Group on Ethics and Policy, researching and writing op-eds on vaccine equity, and serve as a Public Health Policy Fellow at The Great Good Initiative, creating policy solutions to meet the needs of the American people during the COVID-19 pandemic and bridge health disparities. Most recently, I have been researching with the Center for Behavioral Health Services and Implementation Research at Stanford the relationship between persistent depression and substance use disorder and integrating mental and behavioral health in primary care. In the future, I hope to pursue an interdisciplinary career in health, environment, and policy.

This June, I joined the StemChef team and I love how StemChef makes STEM fun, accessible, and engaging for kids and addresses the STEM pipeline problem. The online escape rooms are a creative way to build critical thinking and problem-solving skills, learn concepts in fields like space science, chemistry, and biology, and explore from the comfort of your own house, and they are a resource I wish I had access to when I was younger. I am excited to continue my own STEM journey and help StemChef reach families and classrooms across the globe and ignite a passion for STEM in the next generation!