In a standing-room-only session at a major national conference this spring biology student Nick Maragos cut through the crowd to approach the speaker, CRISPR pioneer Emmanuelle Charpentier. After four years at Suffolk, he was prepared to talk shop—even with a scientific “rock star.”

Two years earlier, Maragos —a Class of 2017 biology major concentrating in biotechnology—was researching protein degradation in E. coli bacteria in Biology Professor Celeste Peterson’s lab. That work helped him see the practical applications for what he’d learned in class. “It brought all my coursework together in a way that made sense, like combining biology, genetics, and even physics to do things like gene cloning,” he said.

Peterson is Maragos’ academic advisor and mentor, gently encouraging him to pursue new opportunities—like applying for a place in her research lab and presenting his work at conferences around the country. 

And it was Peterson who helped Maragos work through five draft emails and polish his resume for his application to the world-renowned Max Planck Institute’s summer research program.

“If her student wants something she makes it happen,” says Maragos of Peterson. “She opens doors.”

Research with a global impact

Maragos spent his junior year summer at the Marine Microbiology Institute in Bremen, Germany—one of the Max Planck Institute’s group of elite research facilities—working on the Ocean Sampling Day project. Every June 21, scientists around the world take samples of their local ocean water and send them to the Marine Microbiology Institute for bacterial analysis. The annual study helps monitor the health of the world’s oceans.

He helped log, organize, and analyze samples from researchers in locations as distant as Florida, the Middle East, and Japan. Maragos also met students from all over the world in the lab, building lasting friendships and his network.

Having trained at a Max Planck Institute puts Maragos into a select group that includes Emmanuelle Charpentier and many other top minds in the global science community. The shared experience is a conversation-starter.

A bright future

Another door opened for Maragos this year when he job-shadowed John Fernandez, the president and CEO of the Massachusetts Eye and Ear Infirmary and a Suffolk University trustee. The experience “sparked an interest in the business side of science and showed what it takes to bring medical advances to real patients,” he says.

Following a recent semester-long internship, Maragos is graduating with a job offer from a cutting-edge life sciences investment firm. In that role he would help pair investors with researchers to fund potential scientific breakthroughs. It’s the next logical step on a path Maragos credits Peterson with clearing for him with her boundless enthusiasm and energy:

“Dr. Peterson is the busiest person I’ve ever met,” says Maragos. “And I’ve been around a lot of investment bankers.”