September 27, 2017

Medical information isn’t always easy to understand but Alysha Melnyk ’14 wants to help change that.

The biology major was inspired to pursue a career in medical writing after presenting her Honors essay about the lack of correlation between vaccines and autism.

“One lady said she found my speech incredibly reassuring because she had a child with autism and always thought in the back of her mind it might have been something she did because she chose to vaccinate,” says Melnyk.

“I realized how much scientific information is out there that doesn’t actually reach the vast majority of individuals. And how it’s easy to see one story or hear one lie and believe it to be truth,” Melnyk says.

Majoring in biology and enrolling in the Honors program opened up many opportunities for Melnyk-including researching the ongoing mine fire in Centralia, Pa.; an internship researching dietary supplements at Johns Hopkins Hospital; and the chance to present her research at two national conferences.

She is now a clinical writer in the technology forecast department at the Philadelphia-area ECRI Institute, which works with medical technologies.

“My job is a combination of constant learning and writing all day every day, which I love,” says Melnyk, who plans to pursue a master’s degree while continuing her work at ECRI.

“There is such a need for writers and individuals passionate about helping others understand scientific information that may be very dense or possibly inaccessible otherwise.”

It’s a path that Melnyk hadn’t initially planned. She applied for, but didn’t receive, a Fulbright Scholarship. During the process, she met Matt Rousu, professor of economics, and he offered her a position working on research funded by a National Institutes for Health (NIH) grant-experience that led to a job offer from ECRI.

“It’s my dream job, and I have been with the organization for over three years now. It shows how failure turned into success in a very unexpected way,” Melnyk says.