A Department of Homeland Security Center of Excellence led by the University of Maryland

A consortium of researchers dedicated to improving the understanding of the human causes and consequences of terrorism

Tall Ambitions from the START


Tall Ambitions from the START

Stephanie Choi dreamt of success from a young age, now she is on her way with help from START

January 8, 2015Rachael Romano

Stephanie Choi, a sophomore biology and psychology double major and neuropsychology minor at the University of Maryland, continues to nurture the career goals she made as a child.

At an age when many children were playing with toys or resisting their nap time, Choi started cultivating an interest in biology and dreamed of a career where she could combine her passion for science with her Asian heritage.

 “I wanted to find a way to make natural medicines and Asian remedies more mainstream,” said Choi.

So, Choi eventually got involved in various science programs. In high school, she took advantage of hands-on biology programs. The most notable, a program offered by Thomas Jefferson University in Philadelphia, involved dissecting a cadaver.

“I was able to explore a lot of different facets of biology, both micro and macro, so it was a great way for me to really see what the field is like,” said Choi

But when she began her studies at the University of Maryland, she discovered another passion: psychology. Currently, Choi is a research assistant for the UMD psychology department conducting a study on how well international students adapt and conform to American culture.

Choi found research to be interesting, but she wanted to explore the next step. What was the practical impact her research could have?

“I knew I wanted to work in a place where the things we produced would actually be applied and used in the real world,” said Choi.

Choi found that place at the National Consortium for the Study of Terrorism and Responses to Terrorism (START). At START, Choi is studying the Individual Radicalization of Bioscientists. 

“I hope that people and governments can use START's research when making decisions to address ’insider threats‘ and prevent terrorist attacks. By doing so, the research could affect thousands of people,” said Choi.

START’s applied research methods have led her to look into more ways her research can impact the world. Choi hopes to one day work in the field of industrial organizational psychology in the pharmaceutical industry, where her childhood dream of blending Asian remedies with mainstream medicine could come true.

“Industrial organizational psychology explores how cultures mesh in the real world. So I would love to be a project manager in the pharmaceutical industry. It would require a biology background, but I could also help to make pharmaceutical companies more effective and productive.”

Although Choi is only a sophomore, she is certain her dedication, ambition and drive will keep her on track to accomplishing her dreams.