Mackenzie Cullen

2021 International Women's Day Nominee - Mackenzie Cullen

Give a brief bio about yourself/ your background/ your history.

I was born and raised in Brandon, Manitoba. From a young age I was very involved in dance, and was a member of the Brandon Dance Ensemble. This gave me the opportunity to perform at charity events, dance festivals and competitions. In high school, I was involved in musical theatre and various sports, including cross country and track & field. I have always felt it is important live a balanced life, and I enjoy running, working out, hiking, and skiing in my spare time. I have continually worked throughout high school and university at various jobs in Brandon and Clear Lake. I have also volunteered as a student leader at BU. I am currently an honors student in Dr. Majumder’s lab, where I work on my project studying the role of microRNAs in breast cancer metabolism.

What education have you taken?

I graduated from Vincent Massey High School in Brandon in 2017. This spring, I will be graduating from Brandon University with a four-year Honors Bachelor of Science with a major in biology and a minor in chemistry.

What accomplishments are you proud of?

In the third year of my undergraduate degree, I began in Dr. Majumder’s lab as a research student. I am very proud to be a member of her lab, where we explore the role of oncogenic microRNAs in breast cancer. I am very grateful for all the scholarships I have received throughout my undergraduate degree. One scholarship that I was especially honored to receive was the NSERC USRA. This award allowed me to continue researching this past summer, during which time my lab mates and I were fortunate to have our findings published in a scientific journal. I am also proud to have studied for and written the MCAT exam during this time period.

Additionally, I have achieved a personal goal of competing in a provincial-wide bodybuilding competition. I am proud to have accomplished this while also working part-time as a server in a restaurant throughout my degree.

How did you become interested in your field of study?

In high school, I had a great biology teacher who piqued my interest in cells and body systems. I realized that I wanted to learn as much as possible about how the body works, as well as how diseases like cancer affect the body. I felt the best way to do this was by pursuing an undergraduate degree in biology.

What is your philosophy in life?

I have a few philosophies:

  • To always see the good – in every day, person, or situation.
  • Treat everyone with kindness and respect.
  • Never go a day without dancing or laughing.

Where do you see yourself in the future?

In the future, I hope to obtain a medical degree. Practicing medicine would allow me to utilize my scientific background to create an environment where individuals feel comfortable, safe, informed, and can actively participate in their health.

What do you #ChooseToChallenge?

I choose to challenge inequality, stereotypes, biases, and to create a more inclusive world.

Nominator’s Comments:

Mackenzie is an outstanding student at the Biology department. She has carried a full course load and has maintained a GPA above 4.12 and generated a peer-reviewed publication. Mackenzie received an USRA in 2020 and joined my laboratory. Ever since she is working hard to understand ‘regulation of metabolism in breast cancer’ and she is now completing her Honours thesis project on the same project. Within six months at my laboratory, she got the training in laboratory techniques, started generating independent results and collaborated with senior students at my laboratory and become a second author in an original research article in a highly reputed journal. She is currently writing another manuscript while doing her Honours project. She is very humble but a determined student. I saw her taking challenging projects, troubleshooting independently, and solving experimental problems with precision. Ms. Cullen is a high achiever; she won BU Board of Governors Entrance scholarships and AP scholarships. These are outstanding achievements for an undergraduate student at her level. She is a very focused, ambitious, and dedicated student and an emerging research scholar with immense potential. Mackenzie is a stupendous student who wants to peruse career in medicine and already secured an interview. I am sure she will be a great doctor in the near future. I am proud to nominate Ms. Mackenzie Cullen for this award.