Recent UCI Alumna Went from Soft-Spoken Scholar
to Confident Public Health Analyst at the FDA
Menglu Yuan, a UCI Ph.D. graduate from the Department of Pharmacology, is thriving in her career as a Public Health Analyst at the FDA’s Center for Drug Evaluation and Research (CDER). Menglu entered federal service through the Presidential Management Fellows Program, which trains advanced degree candidates to become future government leaders. As a public health analyst in CDER, Menglu is at the forefront of health policy, helping to shape FDA’s response to the current opioid crisis.
As a doctoral candidate at UCI, she investigated how tobacco, e-cigarettes and antidepressants change adolescent brain development. Her experiments showed that the nicotine in e-cigarettes could make the teenage brain more vulnerable to drug addiction. In addition to pharmacology research, Menglu pursued many professional development opportunities within the Graduate Division, both as a leader and as a participant.
Menglu was in the first public speaking class that was offered by the Graduate Division. Not only did this experience blossom into many other science communications opportunities for her, but she credits these classes for helping her to achieve greater success both academically and personally and transitioning her from soft-spoken to confident.
“Having this professional skill set gave me a distinct advantage when I applied for fellowships, awards, and jobs,” she says. “These courses were invaluable experiences that I used as the foundation for my professional and personal success. Through these courses I discovered that I am more than just a scientist and helped me to see that I could integrate my science expertise as a leader, as a teammate, and as an effective communicator.”
Eventually, Menglu became a UCI communications trainer herself. Her focus was to train scientists how to communicate their research to broader audiences and non-scientists. Being a participant and a leader in these courses and workshops were game-changing moments for Menglu.
In addition, for more than four years, Menglu held key leadership roles in the Graduate Division’s DECADE (Diverse Educational Community and Doctoral Experience) program, leading campus diversity efforts to better climate, access, and inclusion on campus.
DECADE made her feel like part of a larger research community on campus and also enabled her to better understand the issues that graduate students face.
“Joining DECADE and taking the public speaking courses were the most important turning points in my graduate life,” says Menglu. “I am very grateful for my time at UCI and truly believe that the communication courses were invaluable experiences that I continue to use in my daily life,” she says. "I gained the confidence to integrate my science expertise as a leader, as a teammate, and as an effective communicator.”
Join us for a special event on April 4, to hear more about Menglu’s exciting career and how UCI helped to prepare her for life outside of academia, read more.