Maria Filsinger Interrante - 2012 Scholar

Maria Filsinger Interrante (2012, MN) entered the spotlight in the scientific community in August 2015 as part of the groundbreaking research team at the Stanford Smolke Laboratory that created chemically synthesized yeast and bioengineered opioids with the potential to rewrite and reduce the story of pain around the globe.  Maria was the sole undergraduate student among Stanford researchers who authored a paper in Science titled “Complete biosynthesis of opioids in yeast” (August 2015).  According to the Stanford Medicine News, “Stanford researchers have genetically engineered yeast to make painkilling medicines, a breakthrough that heralds a faster and potentially less expensive way to produce many different types of plant-based medicines.  The engineers…reprogrammed the genetic machinery of baker’s yeast so that these fast-growing cells could convert sugar into hydrocodone in just three to five days.”

Not surprisingly, Maria’s favorite part of her years of research is subgroup meetings, “these little informal meetings where we shared results and problems with the goal of working together to find answers. We also just got to talk about science with experts – whether things were going well or not – and bounce ideas off one another.”

In addition to conducting research at Stanford, Maria rides on the top-ranked Stanford Equestrian team, where she served as captain for one year and is currently in her second year of presidency. “The barn,” she says, “is a nice way to break out of the schedule of class and lab. I’m so proud of this team and the excitement we’ve fostered.”

Maria is also Director of Outreach and VP of Internal Affairs for Stanford’s Society of Women Engineers.  In this role, she hopes to inspire K-12 students interested in engineering and strengthen the community or female engineers at Stanford.

And if all of that weren’t enough, Maris is an Emergency Medical Technician (EMT) and serves as a trainer and mentor for Stanford’s program.  As of Fall 2015, she was applying to M.D./Ph.D. programs in hopes of fulfilling her dream of being a professor at a top research and medical institution.