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Mackenzie Sky ’23 Researching Brain Cancer Treatments

The biology major interned this summer at the Columbia Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics.

Mackenzie Sky ’23 spent ten weeks last summer in a research lab at the Columbia Irving Institute for Cancer Dynamics, assisting Dr. José L. McFaline-Figueroa in his search for more effective treatments for glioblastoma, the most aggressive form of brain cancer.

“In this lab, we’re studying the molecular mechanism by which glioblastoma becomes resistant to chemotherapy,” she explains. The very nature of cancer—the body turning on itself—is what Sky finds fascinating.

She’s also drawn to the field because of her family cancer history resulting from a genetic mutation. Since she’s adopted, she does not carry it herself but wonders about her genetic background. “I always question, ‘what am I affected by, if not by this?’”

She’ll be in the lab of Assistant Professor of Biology Erika Ebbs this year conducting research on parasite evolution for her senior project.


Sky originally came to Purchase as a dancer in the BFA program but decided to trade in her leotard for a lab coat. She’s now majoring in biology / concentration in cellular/molecular biology, and minoring in chemistry.

Read more about her journey from the barre to the bench.

Mackenzie Sky ?23 at work as a research intern at the Columbia Irving Institute for Cancer Dynami...

Mackenzie Sky ?23, originally a dance major, is now pursuing science.