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Sarah Cleveland, Immunology and Microbiology Program

“All of the things that I do here on campus have really confirmed my desire to pursue a career in science policy.”

sarah clevelandSarah Cleveland, a PhD candidate in the Morningside Graduate School of Biomedical Sciences at UMass Chan Medical School, studies T cells in the lab of Eric S. Huseby, PhD, professor of pathology. The lab studies how defects in T cell development can lead to autoimmune disease.

“Most of the time when you’re sick, T cells are probably involved in the response,” Cleveland said. “It’s so cool to me how our body can either learn to attack itself or attack foreign objects. It can tell the difference, and it can remember things. Out of every single cell and organ in our body, the only things that can remember things are our brains and T cells and B cells. And I think that that’s just awesome.”

Cleveland was drawn to immunology after her grandfather—her best friend—died from cancer in 2013. The Windsor, Conn., native majored in biological sciences and philosophy at the University of Connecticut.

“I’m extremely curious. I want to know how things work,” Cleveland said.

Cleveland is the co-president of the Graduate Student Body Council. During the 2021-2022 academic year, she received the school’s Student Justice, Equity, Diversity, Inclusion Leadership Award for her work as the group’s diversity and inclusion co-chair. She’s also a member of the Diversity Interest Group, a student-led diversity initiative that offers seminars and journal clubs aimed at creating a more equitable environment for all students.

“All of the things that I do here on campus, particularly with diversity and inclusion, have really confirmed my desire to pursue a career in science policy,” Cleveland said. “I would like to maybe pursue a career at the NIH or the CDC, or somewhere where I can be involved in mobilizing resources, assessing situations and problem solving in a way that best benefits the community.”