In high school, Shay McDo­nough devel­oped an interest in both biology and com­puter sci­ence. At North­eastern, McDo­nough — now a fourth-​​year infor­ma­tion sci­ences major — com­bined her love for both fields on two co-​​ops for the infor­ma­tion tech­nology (IT) group at the Novartis Insti­tutes for Bio­Med­ical Research in Cam­bridge, Mass.

It was a beau­tiful inte­gra­tion of biology and com­puter sci­ence,” she said.

On her first co-​​op, McDo­nough updated a man­age­ment system to comply with the research organization’s design and IT stan­dards. Her work made it easier for researchers on the car­dio­vas­cular and meta­bolic dis­eases team to share infor­ma­tion with data analysts.

McDonough’s famil­iarity with team projects helped her land a second co-​​op as a pro­gram man­ager, a role that enabled her to work on the design of a bigger pro­gram that con­nects users within each of the company’s research areas.

McDonough’s man­ager, Arturo Morales, global lead at the Novartis Data Fed­er­a­tion Ini­tia­tive, praised her con­tri­bu­tion. “As much as this was a learning expe­ri­ence for her, she has made a sig­nif­i­cant impact in the team and helped us move for­ward,” he said.

Soon after begin­ning the project, how­ever, McDo­nough real­ized that it would take at least a year to com­plete. “Co-​​ops in gen­eral are really inter­ested in get­ting things done and having some­thing you can say you really accom­plished in your six months there,” she explained.

But that turned out to be impos­sible for the hard­working stu­dent. Instead of saying goodbye to the project at the end of her co-​​op, McDo­nough chose to con­tinue working at Novartis as a part-​​time employee to see her work through to a later stage of development.

McDo­nough said the Novartis expe­ri­ence served as a launching pad for a future career, and in her third co-​​op, she hopes to con­tinue chal­lenging her­self even more in the area of user interface.