In honor of International Women’s Day 2021 on March 8, the UCLA International Institute is publishing a series of profiles of female Bruins.

Xiaofei “Fay” Lin grew up in a family of scientists in Stony Brook, New York: Her father is a biomedical engineering professor, and her mother is a lab technician. Lin was drawn to the sciences in school and went on to earn a bachelor’s degree in biology, along with minors in computer science and chemistry, at New York University. It was there that she developed a love of computational biology.

After graduating from NYU in 2016, Lin moved to Los Angeles to join the UCLA Biochemistry, Molecular and Structural Biology Graduate Program. Moving to the West Coast was a huge change. Add the combined stresses of a demanding doctorate program and living far from family and close friends, and Lin found herself struggling with major depression.

“Depression doesn’t have one look. On the outside, I was going to classes, submitting assignments and met people with a smile. At the same time, there were days I couldn’t get up in the morning,” Lin said. Struggling with research due to depression was difficult for others to understand.

Getting better was a journey, she says. “It took a lot of work to recognize that negative attitudes toward depression are due to societal stigma, and not a reflection of my self-worth or ability as a scientist, as well as to find a treatment plan that worked for me because — contrary to common belief — recovery is not instantaneous.”

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