Meet Alumna Nicole Falan ’20, Post-Baccalaureate Fellow at the National Institutes of Health

Name: Nicole Falan

Class Year: 2020

Title: Post-Baccalaureate Fellow

Organization: National Institutes of Health


1. In one sentence, what does your job entail? 

I am a post-baccalaureate fellow at the National Institutes of Health and I research how to prevent medication-induced hearing loss, which affects millions of people globally.


2. What planned and unplanned events connected you to your industry and first employer after Holy Cross?

I knew I wanted to start my professional career in scientific research when I was performing research in Professor Alexis Hill’s neurobiology lab. By working in the lab during the school year and participating in the Weiss Summer Research Program, I discovered my passion for scientific investigation. Knowing of my strong interest in research, Professor Alexis Hill was the first to tell me of the NIH post-baccalaureate IRTA fellowship and encouraged me to apply. The Center for Career Development and the Office of Distinguished Fellowships and Graduate Studies provided helpful feedback on my application and held mock interviews with me. My educational background in chemistry and neuroscience, recommendations from professors, and the reputation of the Holy Cross science department all contributed to my success in obtaining the position at the National Institutes of Health.


3. What were you involved in when you were on campus?

I was heavily involved in the Best Buddies, Holy Cross Wishmakers, and Big Brothers Big Sisters clubs while on campus.


4. What was your major and how did it affect your career decisions?

My interest in science led me to major in chemistry and minor in neuroscience. My passion for neuroscience led me to perform research in Professor Hill’s neurobiology lab and my positive experience from the lab helped me to determine that I wanted to go into scientific research following graduation.


5. What are one or two skills that you developed at Holy Cross that you use in your work?

At my current job, I use many skills that I learned and cultivated while at Holy Cross, such as the critical-thinking skills I used in my chemistry courses, and tangible skills such as confocal microscopy that I learned in the Hill lab.


6. What advice would you give to current students? 

My advice for students to take advantage of the many opportunities that Holy Cross offers. Find a mentor on campus or from the alumni network that works in the field you wish to enter following graduation. Professors and alumni are generally very happy to assist you and they can provide crucial knowledge, guidance, encouragement, resources, and opportunities that will greatly progress your career.