Ali Lenard

Ali Lenard

Ali studied biology in college, earning her bachelor’s degree (BS). Ali works as a research technician and lab manager for the Kathrin Bernt Laboratory of CHOP’s Center for Childhood Cancer Research. Despite her interest in science, Ali didn’t always feel confident about pursuing a STEM career. Read on to find out who and what inspired Ali to get on the path to her science career, and what she enjoys about her work.   


How did you first become interested in science? 

I suppose I’ve always been interested in science. I had an amazing chemistry teacher in high school. She actually has her PhD but loved teaching high school too much to switch professions and was a fantastic instructor. I had the most fun in her class, even though chemistry was not my favorite subject. She showed me how much fun the lab can be. I began taking high level science classes after that class and went on to major in biology in college. 

What was your favorite science class?

My favorite science class might be the aforementioned chemistry class with Dr. Hallman. Her enthusiasm for lab was infectious and got every student interested in whichever concoction we were mixing up that day.    

What advice do you have for students interested in a STEM career? 

You can do anything you want! I struggled with anxiety in high school surrounding my studies and what I “wanted to be when I grew up.”  I felt that because I did not take AP science classes my first two years of high school, I couldn’t possibly be smart enough to go into the STEM field, whether that be medicine or another application of science. Dr. Hallman was so patient and ensured me that I could do anything I wanted. She wasn’t a fan of the phrase “follow your dreams” but she would say that you are a lucky person if you can wake up in the morning and genuinely want to go to work, to enjoy what you spend your days doing. I readjusted and placed into higher level science classes for my second two years of high school and followed the STEM path to a career of learning and fascination. 

What is your favorite part of your job? 

Part of my job involves caring for our mouse colony which I actually really enjoy. We have around 200 mice at any given time that are each bred to have a very specific combination of genes. I get to greet the baby mice as they come into the world and give them sunflower seeds as treats, which they absolutely love. I’ve always loved animals, and I love escaping to the “mouse house” as we call it, or the room where the mice live. 

What current scientific discovery or project are you most excited about? 

I am working on an exciting project right now that will hopefully lead to novel treatments for pediatric leukemia. We are currently developing models for studying specific types of leukemia in order to understand which treatments work best for which patients. CHOP is a great institution because all the research we do is translational, meaning that it will directly impact patients in our hospital and across the world.