What it is like to join TREC as a researcher during COVID-19

Former StaffCOVID-19, New Research from Our Lab

By Dr. Rachyl Pines, Postdoctoral Research Fellow

My name is Rachyl Pines, and I just finished my PhD in Communication from University of California, Santa Barbara in Communication. This picture is of me defending my dissertation to finish my PhD at home.


My research during my PhD focused on ways we can use communication between doctors and patients to improve patient care in a lot of ways. For example, how can healthcare professionals use interpreters more effectively? How can healthcare professionals communicate with patients who are upset more effectively? How can different types of healthcare providers communicate with one another more effectively? My dream job after finishing my PhD was any job that I would have the chance to use my research skills to improve patient care. Now that I have joined the TREC team, I am so excited to be researching what role communication plays in transplant to improve patient care, whether that is about providing better education for patients and healthcare staff, social support for donors and recipients, or how healthcare staff share transplant information with one another. I joined the TREC team in early May, and I become more excited and proud to be a part of this team helping patients every single day!

I came across the opportunity on LinkedIn one day and thought it was totally too good to be true! This position seemed so perfect for me. I immediately emailed my application materials to Lizeth Ambriz, and I was so excited to get a virtual interview! After a zoom interview with Dr. Amy Waterman, a zoom group interview with some people on the TREC team, and a zoom group interview some of the leaders at Terasaki Institute for Biomedical Innovation, I received my job offer via email and signed my paperwork using an e-signature.

Normally when you start a new job, you grab coffee and lunch with co-workers and get to know each other. I did the same thing, just virtually! We all had lunch together one day via zoom which was so fun. I feel very proud to be a part of a team that innovates to remain productive and work from home to flatten the curve.

Here at TREC, I have the opportunity to work with other PhD and MD level researchers across the United States to work on ways we can improve patient transplant education and care, especially for communities who experience healthcare disparities like being less likely to receive a kidney donation or experience more financial barriers to transplant. One of the main projects I have the opportunity to work on is to research how we can use people’s stories of their experience with transplant to help other people considering a living donor kidney transplant feel more informed and confident in their choice to be a donor or not, or receive a kidney or not. I also get to work with more junior staff to help develop their research and writing skills. I love developing young researchers in their skills as they find their passions along the way. No matter what task I am working on, I get a deep sense of meaning from working at TREC as we work toward saving patient lives through transplant.

I hope to have a long career in research that improves patient care. I feel so fortunate to get to start my dream job just weeks after completing my PhD and be able to work with such an incredible team. I am so excited to discover what this position at TREC holds for me!