Liz Abeles

Class of 2018

Hometown: Washington, DC

What is your College Scholar project?

The College Scholar major has allowed me to bring together my interests in oncology research, Chinese language/culture studies, and anthropology and sociology. Over the past four years, I have researched illness through both life sciences and sociocultural lenses. In the Immunotherapy and Cell Engineering Laboratory, I study lymphoma cancer by constructing biomaterials-based models of lymphoid tissue. I hope to contribute even a small piece of knowledge to the future of personalized oncology therapeutics. Outside of lab, I conducted a hybridized anthropological/sociological field study in China. I interviewed doctors in Mandarin to study how Chinese medicine and biomedicine are used to individualize care and alleviate pain for sufferers of cancer and immunological diseases. Overall, the College Scholar major has allowed me to define, and continually refine, my exploration into the role that culture plays in medicine and healing.

I am very grateful to have been named a Hunter R. Rawlings III Presidential Research Scholar at the end of my sophomore year. This program, as well as the Lynne S. Abel Award, granted me full engagement with my academic goals, and made possible my research in both immuno-engineering on campus and socio-anthropology in China.

As a Rawlings Scholar, I presented my findings at Martha Pollack’s Presidential Inauguration, the Rawlings Senior Symposium, and the College Scholar Senior Showcase. I was thrilled to attend the Society for Biomaterials 2018 Conference with the Immunotherapy Lab, where I was a first author of a talk on MALT1 signaling in lymphoma cancer. Additionally, The Cornell Research Paper featured an article about my work.

What are your most important extra-curricular activities?

I always look forward to meeting with friends in the Running Club, and I was very excited to qualify for the Boston marathon. Additionally, mentoring is an important part of my life at Cornell. As an A&S Peer advisor, A&S FYSA advisor, BEARS mentor, Peer Review Board member, and Resident Assistant in the West Campus housing system, I hope that I have been a positive light in student life at Cornell.

Talk about any summer internships or programs you’ve attended?

The summer after freshman year, I attended Princeton’s 8-week intensive Chinese language program at Beijing Normal University, which allowed me to advance one year in Mandarin. Last summer, as a Hunter R. Rawlings IIII Presidential Research Scholar, I conducted a medical anthropology field study in China and then returned to the Singh lab to continue working on personal oncology therapeutics.

What do you dream of doing after graduation?

I was honored to be a co-winner of the 2018 Phi Beta Kappa Scholarship Prize, which will help support my work next year with elderly Chinese immigrants as a Mandarin-English interpreter and patient advocate. I am looking forward to expanding my awareness of health disparities amongst our country’s immigrant populations. Ultimately, I hope to become a surgical oncologist.