Divya Mathur ’03

Name: Divya Mathur ’03

Current Title/Profession: Principal scientist, Pfizer

City: New York, New York

Major: Biochemistry

Additional/Advanced Degrees: PhD, Massachusetts Institute of Technology

What was your first job after MHC?: Finished graduate school at MIT, did postdoctoral research at Columbia University, and then joined Pfizer Oncology

Favorite class/professor and why: Nineteenth-Century European Art with Professor Mimi Hellman (art history). As someone who was devoting the majority of her time to scientific research and biochemistry classes, I was a complete novice in understanding art. This class opened up an exciting new world where history, religion, scientific discoveries, and changes in the way people lived and thought could all be appreciated through beautiful visual means.

Talents and/or passions discovered at MHC: Toward the end of my first year, when I was getting excited about going back home to India, my Introductory Biology teaching assistant, Abby Hood ’99, insisted that I apply for a Howard Hughes summer research fellowship at MHC. Before I knew it, I had signed up to spend two months of my first summer break doing biology research in South Hadley! We studied barnacles and starfish in Woods Hole, Massachusetts, listened to chickadees, filmed slime mold, and admired fruit-fly eyes—I was hooked on research!

What do you value most about your liberal arts education?: A liberal arts education taught me that there is always more to appreciate and learn outside of the world that I am most familiar with. While I greatly value the scientific training that I received at MHC, I also feel well equipped and eager to learn something new.

Why is a women’s education still relevant today?: It allows a woman to learn, think, and express herself freely, without the inhibitions that she may come across day-to-day in society or at work. The confidence that such an environment creates in a woman can allow her to continue forging ahead in her endeavors throughout her life. While many others may also be aware of and acknowledge the issues women face in society, she would have the courage to deal with them.

What do you want the world to know about MHC?: The MHC that I know is a place where people value not only what is taught in the classroom, but also opinions different from their own. My friends from college are women that I continue to admire for the confidence and passion with which they pursue and balance their lives and work. And I know that MHC played a large part in shaping who they are today.

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