Women Behind Innovation: Stephanie MacDonald

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As a recent graduate of Wentworth Institute of Technology, Stephanie MacDonald is looking to make a positive impact on the world of STEM from the inside.  Currently a  clinical operations associate for WorldCare Clinical, a Boston-based CRO that works with many top pharmaceutical companies. Her work revolves around the adverse event adjudication process, helping to ensure patient safety during clinical trials.

The Edison Awards recently spoke with MacDonald about her interest in innovation, what misconceptions she feels people have about the fields and some of her career highlights. Here’s what she had to say:(edited for brevity and clarity)

When did your interest in engineering begin?

I became interested in computers in 5th grade when I taught myself how to code HTML and, eventually, CSS. Throughout my life I’ve always liked technology, and eventually realized that biomedical engineering would be a good fit.

What was it like to be a woman studying in your field?

There are absolutely challenges about being a woman in STEM, but I’ve been lucky to find friends who support me and mentors who push me hard. I feel like any time I’ve had a problem, I’ve always had at least one person I could turn to for guidance, and I try to reciprocate that to younger women.

What do you like about your field and what you do?

I love fixing things and solving problems, which is what drew me to engineering. Being able to think critically about how a piece of technology is used, and to teach others how to use it, is wonderful.

Do you think people have any misconceptions about what it’s like to be an engineer or about the field itself?

I think people have this misconception that engineers are awkward, solitary creatures who like to be hidden away doing math. I’ve found my job to be very social, which is a lot of fun.

To date, what are some of your career highlights?

I was an IT Systems Co-op at MGH during the transition to Epic, and that was a really wild ride. I got to be right there in the operating rooms teaching health care providers how to use the new software, and helping troubleshoot any issues with device integration. I’m very proud of my contributions to MGH during that time. In my job at Akili I’ve been able to dive right in supporting the clinical operations team, and it’s really great to meld my interests in research and engineering in that way.

How is your company bringing innovation to the forefront?

Akili is amazing, because we’re really doing something totally new for digital health care. In so many ways, everything we’re doing is really blazing the trail for digital health companies.

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