Commencement Spotlight: Amanda Tse, BS ’24

Tse is graduating with a 4.0 GPA. In August, she will continue her journey at USC Mann as a PhD student in pharmaceutical and translational sciences.

With perfect grades, USC Town and Gown Scholar Amanda Tse, BS ’24, has earned a degree in pharmacology and drug development from the Mann School, and another in health promotion and disease prevention studies from the Keck School of Medicine of USC. Her honors include being named a 2023 Astronaut Scholar, a distinction awarded to exemplary students pursuing science, technology, engineering or math degrees. Amid her other scholarly efforts, she found time to minor in forensics and criminality.

In 2021, Tse joined the lab of Paul Seidler, assistant professor of pharmacology and pharmaceutical sciences, to research medicines for Alzheimer’s disease. “She always managed to rise to the challenge,” says Seidler, who also served as Tse’s primary advisor at USC Mann. “She continued to diligently work with me and is always up for more. Even today, she is pioneering new methodologies and bringing new knowledge into the lab.”

In August, the Pasadena native will continue her studies at the Mann School as a PhD candidate in pharmaceutical and translational sciences. Here, Tse discusses her journey at USC, and what draws her to science and pharmacy as a career.

What prompted your interest in science and pharmacy?

In high school, I always found myself most excited to attend science classes. Then, seeing my family members grow older and suffer from health problems, I knew I wanted to work in the healthcare industry. A lot of my cousins are practicing pharmacists, but I never had a particular interest in clinical/community/retail pharmacy. I was more interested in the research side and how drugs come to market.

What do you like most about the Mann School?

I love how close-knit the USC Mann community is, especially within the undergraduate programs. Walking into a class, I can confidently say I know at least 90% of the people and am good friends with many. Despite my generally being a quieter student, I have a voice in every class, and the comfortable environment created by my professors and peers allows me to actively participate without hesitation.

Tse and her friends in USC Mann Undergraduate Programs. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Tse)
Tse received the Astronaut Scholarship Award at the 2023 Innovators Gala and Scholars Award Ceremony in Orlando. (Photo courtesy of Amanda Tse)

In 2023, you presented at the Southern California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers Research Program. Can you walk us through your research experience as an undergraduate?

Doing research as an undergraduate has been better than I could’ve ever imagined, allowing me to make lifelong friendships and form connections with like-minded people. At the Seidler Lab, we study small molecules that disaggregate the amyloid proteins contributing to neurodegeneration, with an aim of discovering pharmaceutical candidates for Alzheimer’s disease. My research specifically focuses on the inhibitory activity of dihydromyricetin (DHM) on tau protein aggregation—one of three hallmarks of Alzheimer’s.

Being able to share my work as an undergraduate with people more advanced in the field at conferences like the 2023 Southern California Alzheimer’s Disease Centers Research Symposium was incredibly rewarding and fulfilling. Additionally, it is amazing to have the wonderful mentorship of Dr. Seidler, who always supports me in my academic and personal endeavors. My undergraduate experience at USC has definitely been shaped by my research at his lab.

What are your career aspirations?

I hope to work as a drug discovery or development scientist in a pharmaceutical company to develop lifesaving treatments. I am currently a nonclinical research and development intern at Bristol Myers Squibb, where I am developing a neutralizing antibody assay for an anti-cancer CAR T cell therapy. The days at work go by so quickly because of how much I enjoy being in the lab, knowing I am helping save lives. I want to do this for the long term.

Learn more about the Mann School’s 2024 Commencement at