Celebrating International Women's Day

March 8, 2022 

In honor of International Women’s Day (March 8th), we are profiling several of HITLAB’s female leaders from around the world.

International Women’s Day (IWD) is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural, and political achievements of women. The day also marks a call to action for accelerating women’s equality.

IWD has occurred for well over a century, with the first IWD gathering in 1911 supported by over a million people. Today, IWD belongs to all groups collectively everywhere.

Meet Kat Marriott, a   Senior Research Scientist for HITLAB’s Research Practice and Executive Director at Healthcare Professionals for Responsible Opioid Prescribing (PROP). 

A Scientist by training, Kat has worked for over 20 years as a researcher and scientific project manager. She holds a PhD in  Experimental Pathology with an emphasis on  virology and infectious diseases. Kat has been published in several journals and presented at numerous national and international meetings on topics such as infectious disease and public health.  She has a lot of experience leading research and clinical trials. 


Kat also runs a small non-profit called PROP (Healthcare Professionals for Responsible Opioid Prescribing), which she joined after losing her sister to an opioid overdose. The organization focuses on advocacy and education about the risks of irresponsible opioid prescribing and better standards around prescribing opioids. 

We had a chance to sit down with Kat and ask her a few questions about her career as a female researcher/scientist : 

What are you currently working on in your role at HITLAB?

Right now I am currently working on several mental health-related research projects. Nevertheless, I feel comfortable managing all different types of projects. I will also be presenting some of my work at the upcoming American Telehealth Association Conference (ATA 2022)  in early May. 

How did you get into science/research?

I always thought I wanted to be a medical examiner or pathologist. The mystery of pathology and the study of diseases was always exciting to me and I found it fascinating. However, I realized during undergrad that medical school wasn’t really for me. Instead, I went to grad school and got a PhD in experimental pathology focusing on and infectious diseases and specifically virology. I fell in love with research and learning about infectious diseases and public health.

Growing up, I never could have imagined I would have taken this path, nor the fact that this path was even an option out there. In trying to figure out how I would use my education, I also knew I didn’t want to be an academic researcher, so I did a non-academic post-doc in research science and honed in on my skills as a scientific project manager.  

What are some of the most valuable lessons you have learned during your career? 

As a woman, especially in the science field, you need to be your own advocate. Stand up for what you want, for your own career. No one will do it for you. There have been so many situations throughout my career where I was the minority and didn’t feel supported or have a network of women. There were not many female role models around me in academic research. I really needed to learn to do self-advocacy and follow a path that was not familiar based on my own instincts.

What was appealing to you about healthcare as a female?   

Seeing what is happening with Women’s Health Tech currently is such a motivator. We are seeing so many motivated and engaged women in this area who are all supporting one another – uplifting and encouraging each other. This gives me much hope for young women embarking in scientific or healthcare related fields.

What Advice would you impart to a young female seeing a career in science/healthcare?

Be brave. Don’t be afraid to experience all opportunities that are out there—don’t get set in one thing – see what is out there and explore all possibilities. I would also encourage all females to see out another female mentor that they can learn from. 

Tell us one fun/interesting fact about yourself?

I am an avid sports fan and go to almost every sporting event that I can get my hands on. Our whole family is competitive and take our sports very seriously. Our children both play sports – our daughter plays softball in college and our son is a goalkeeper for his high school soccer team. When I am not working, you can likely find me and my husband at some sports field.

 

Meet Rachel Figueroa, Director of Human Resources at HITLAB. We had the opportunity to ask Rachel about her career a female in Human Resources and in healthcare. Here is what she had to share:

Rachel attended the State University of New York College at Oswego and then relocated to Maryland, where she received a Masters of Science in Human Resources degree  from Towson university. After working for a recruiter for various staffing agencies where she spent 5 years placing candidates and medical professionals at top 100 companies and hospitals throughout NYC. She went on to work as an HR Manager at EMI Music North America, supporting over 300+ employees in Miami and NYC. After taking some time off to raise her children, she started working at HITLAB, where I have been for 11 years

What do you do as an HR professional?

As a full-service HR Professional, I manage the entire HR function for all employees including  recruitment, onboarding, benefits administration, performance management, training and development and employee relations.

What is your career goal/passion? How did you get into Human Resources?

My passion is helping people and creating the best culture where people want to come to work every day and where they know they are supported.   I feel like as an HR director, I can help influence that.

Were you always interested in working in the healthcare space and in human resources?

Healthcare is essential for our well-being.  It essentially is the universal language that speaks to all.  I grew up in the healthcare space and it has always seemed like a natural fit.  My mother was a medical biller at the 7th best hospital in the country and retired there after 43 years.  I spent many school breaks, holidays and weekends at her job as a child and so working within the healthcare space seemed like an organic fit. 

I view Human Resources as the backbone to an organization.  It is where an employee’s journey begins.  I love being part of that journey and creating an experience that is memorable.

What do you like most about what you do?

I like being part of the employee journey.  It is extremely rewarding to see an individual grow and excel in their career.  I feel like in some small way, I contributed to their trajectory and to see where they are today and how they are creating impact is beyond words.

What is the most important lesson you have learned through your career as a women in HR the healthcare/tech industry? 

Today, many opportunities have opened up for women in healthcare/tech industry particularly in Life Sciences.  I encourage young women that are interested in making a difference to explore the world of science and create impact for tomorrow. There are so many paths one can explore!

What is one piece of advice you would impart to another female looking to pursue a career in Human Resources?

Consider majoring in something related to HR such as Organizational Psychology, Human Resources Management/Development, etc.  to gain a foundation.  Also, consider doing a couple of internships to learn how different HR departments operate.  I did this while in Grad school and it was very helpful.  HR is transferable in any industry.  Identifying the industries that you are most interested or passionate about can help you create a unique niche.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself!

Hmm, one fun fact, it’s hard to narrow down so I will give 2: London is my favorite city and I am a Zumba enthusiast and have my instructor certification.

Meet VANDANA YADAV, a project manager at HITLAB’s Research practice.

Vandana is from Delhi, India. She completed her Bachelor of Engineering in Biotechnology from University of Delhi and then went to Scotland to study MSc (by research) in Biomedical Sciences from University of Edinburgh. Before joining HITLAB 3.5 years ago, Vandana completed a research fellowship at a microbiology lab at the Indian Agricultural Institiute where she studied how endophytes influence Chickpea plant growth and resistance to various environmental stresses.

Prior to that, she worked on murine renal stem cells and intestinal cancer tissues as part of two research projects she undertook after graduating.

We asked Vandana a few questions about  her role at HITLAB and being a female in the science field. Check out what she has to say:

Can you please share a bit about what you do as a researcher and what your focus is? / What do you do at HITLAB specifically?

At HITLAB, I support all sorts of core research and analysis activities and work throughout a research project’s life cycle starting from discovery phase (where we crystallize scope of work after understanding the purpose and objectives of the research) to final deliverables (deducing key findings and reporting results). I have had a chance to work on 30+ diverse projects with nature of work including landscape research, competitive analysis, feasibility studies, clinical validation, usability assessment, product development research, evaluation/verification studies, and more.

In addition, I also support the diffusion arm of the lab where I  conduct research on developments, challenges, and opportunities in various areas under digital health and draft abstracts, blogs and articles.

Some of my work was recently published in the Cureus Science Journal.

How did you interest in science/research begin?

I was interested in Science since 8th grade in school. When I realized that science could explain most of the phenomena happening around us and within us, I became very curious to learn more, understand the reason behind everything, and grow my awareness of my surroundings, in general. This is how my interest in science began and it led me to choosing biotechnology as the subject for my undergraduation.

Why did you decide to focus on research/science?

I was fascinated by the fact that nature has made the most complex machines and mechanisms which humans have not been able to fully fathom even after several centuries of research. Its like magic – when you see it but can’t understand how it happens, you instantly become curious because its counter-intuitive. I am a very curious person and research helps me quench my thirst! When I research on a topic and learn something new, I feel empowered and excited to share it with the world or to use to build on something useful/helpful. 

Do you like what you do?

I absolutely love what I do! Today, we are witnessing some very exciting developments in the digital health space globally, but this is also demanding for more organization and alignment in the healthcare ecosystem such that these new-age digital health tools can become enablers and propellers of affordable, accessible, and quality healthcare. As a part of the research team at HITLAB, I interact with dozens of these budding healthtech startups, get inspired by what they are doing, and help them with my research skills and understanding of the evolving digital health landscape to navigate their way through the evidence and impact generation pathway.

What is the most important lesson you have learned through your career as a women in research?

Women have this incredible inherent quality of being nurturing and the underlying reason for this quality is our empathetic perspective towards their surroundings. I think this is one of our superpowers because when empathy meets design, wonders happen! Not just in healthcare but in almost every field or industry. Over the years at the lab, I have learnt to hone this skill and practice it meticulously during study designs, technology evaluations, and throughout project coordination in general.

What is one piece of advice you would impart to another female looking to pursue a similar career?

Observe yourselves, improve yourselves, and believe in yourselves! We all know that the world needs to improve in terms of gender equity, but we must also realize it cannot be done without the contribution of women themselves. It reminds me of the saying – “Be the change you wan to see in the world”

Women are excelling extraordinarily in research and often exhibit impressive emotional intelligence skills at workplaces. We just need to be confident of our potential and keep up the perseverance to build our trajectories and make an impact!

Tell us one fun fact about yourself!

I love cooking. Its soul soothing for me. I like to experiment with recipes, give them a twist with Indian spices and make healthier versions.

Meet Nicole Anderson, The lead coordinator for the HITLAB Women’s Health Tech Initiative

Nicole grew up in St. Paul Minnesota. Her entrepreneur mom started a business when she was young while her dad stayed home to care for her and her sister until they started school.

We interviewed Nicole about her role at HITLAB and her role leading women’s health tech at the lab. Here is what she had to say:

Tell us a little bit about your background:

My parents were always so supportive of all of my academic and creative pursuits, and always encouraged me to try things that pushed me out of my comfort zone. When I was 18, I moved across the country to study International Business and Management at Villanova University, where I was a Global Leadership Fellow. Today, I am currently pursuing a Masters Degree in Public Health, in the Department of Health Policy and Management at Yale University, where I am on track to graduate in May 2023.

How long have you been at HITLAB? Did you work anywhere before?

I joined HITLAB part-time in the summer of 2021 before starting graduate school. Before that, I was a Business Analyst at a large, global Fintech company in New York City. I also completed four internships in four different countries during college that provided me with a wide range of experiences: a health tech startup, large pharmaceutical company, data analytics firm, and international non-profit in the U.K., U.S., Australia and Madagascar.

What is your lifelong career goal?

Post-MPH, I aim to join a technology company in a strategic or product management role helping bring affordable digital health solutions to market in the U.S. and worldwide. In the long-term future, I am interested in venture capital and impact investing in early-stage female and minority led tech startups addressing unmet needs in health.

How did your interest in digital health/WHT begin?

My interest in expanding access to healthcare through technology was inspired by the lack of digitized health records and internet broadband that I observed while working on projects in rural health clinics combined with my own lived experiences with the U.S. healthcare system.

Do you like what you do?

Right now I am working on two digital health ventures at Yale and filling my schedule with events across campus, but on the weekends you can find me on a bike trail or trying out new plant-based recipes.

What is the most important lesson you have learned through your career as a woman in the healthcare/tech industry? What piece of advice would you impart to another female looking to pursue similar career?

Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. You are your own greatest advocate.

Tell us one fun fact about yourself!

I’m passionate about activist storytelling through creative mediums, and in 2019 I researched, wrote and conducted all of the interviews for a documentary film about access to maternal surgical care at a rural hospital in Ethiopia. (CARRYING TOMORROW, http://www.carryingtomorrow.com). I’m also a certified yoga instructor! Immediately after college graduation, my mom and I traveled to Rishikesh, India, together for the month-lo

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