Interview with Studylog User Rowena Martinez

May 29, 2019
Yasmina Ibsen

Rowena is a Senior Research Associate at Senti Biosciences, a Northern California native, and a Disneyland devotee.

Where did you grow up?

I grew up here in Northern California, mostly in Vallejo.

What sparked your interest in science?

It’s a funny story; my sister and I are four and a half years apart and she is physically the complete opposite of me. She’s taller, has lighter skin, has straighter hair, and is skinnier so when I was in middle school I asked my mom “why do we look so different?” She couldn’t really come up with a good answer for me so when I found out about genetics in one of my science classes, I got really interested in it. That’s what lead me to do Genetics at UC Davis.

Did you have any specific role models? If so, who were they?

In high school I had really great AP teachers. I took AP Biology and AP Chemistry and my teachers were actually a married couple. They were super awesome at teaching science and getting kids to like science. I really really really liked the way they taught and how they kept our interest.

Good teachers really make all the difference in the world.Totally!What would you say to a young person considering a career in science or specifically oncology?

Stay curious and always seek the answers to your questions, never just settle for what they tell you. Actually seek out and try to find answers no matter what it is.

What is important to you personally? I.e.what things do you value most in life?

Balance, not always in work, but in life. It definitely can’t always be one or the other. You can’t always be working but you also can’t always be playing so it’s important to me to find a place where I can not only work hard, but also play hard.

What are some of the challenges you have faced either in your career or personally that you feel have helped you become the successful scientist and person you are?

I think not being taken seriously for my experiences. I’ve been in the industry for the last thirteen years and I went from being a Tech to being a Senior Research Associate. The amount of things that I’ve learned in the industry has been invaluable, especially working for three big pharma companies and seeing how differently each place handles things. The challenge of academic versus industry, the experience of that kinda gets in the way like “okay, I might not have a publication, but I’ve worked on a lot of preclinical studies and seen a lot of different things, and I think that’s something that’s really rare.”

It’s not always about the titles or whatever, but having the experience is really what matters.


What did you think when you first saw Studylog?

That it was a great tool that was underutilized. I first used it at BMS and they mostly used it for data capture. Once I started digging into it and seeing all the other capabilities it has, I was like “this is such a great tool, would really help out across departments, and also help you see bigger picture type things that you might not necessarily see otherwise.” It helps translate the  things that you do on bench top, brings them all together, and summarizes it really well.

How has Studylog impacted you or your team?

When I was using it at BMS, it saved us so much time and it was so efficient. I especially like the fact that you could change things if you maybe mismeasured something. You don’t have to wait and go through the whole entire thing and measure it again, you could just measure it right then and there and also see what tumor size it is, what it was previously, and how much change it had. The fact that you could see that right then and there was super powerful.

What would you say to people who prefer to use Excel because it is free?

I would say that they’re missing out on doing more with their data and on doing things more quickly that you would otherwise have to copy and paste into another program. It’s literally right at your finger tips with Studylog. What is your favorite Studylog feature?One of my favorite features is the fact that I can go back and edit, and my other favorite feature is the fact that you can export into Prism or even graph within the actual program itself.

What do you do for fun when you’re not curing cancer?

I go to Disneyland a lot! Actually I’m going next week [at time of interview] which I’m super looking forward to. If I’m not curing cancer or going to Disneyland, I am checking out a lot of new restaurants or new places in the Bay Area. It’s such a great place to live because it’s such a melting pot of a lot of different things.

Definitely. There’s so much to eat and so little time.