Skip to main content
Rachel Ramos is a research technician in the Felton lab who dedicates her workdays to running experiments and collaborating with her team on innovative Type 1 diabetes research—but on weekends and evenings, she trades her lab coat for a crown and sash. Rachel was named Miss South Bend 2024 and will compete in Miss Indiana 2024.

Research technician champions science and service as Miss South Bend 2024

Rachel Ramos wearing her Miss South Bend crown and sash with her IU School of Medicine lab coat

Rachel Ramos

As a research technician in the Felton lab at the Indiana University School of Medicine Department of Pediatrics, Rachel Ramos dedicates her workdays to running experiments and collaborating with her team on innovative Type 1 diabetes research—but on weekends and evenings, she trades her lab coat for a crown and sash. Earlier this year, Ramos was named Miss South Bend and she’s now in the running to become Miss Indiana 2024.

“I’m proud to say I work in an all-women lab because I was never exposed to research or women in science until college,” Ramos said. “Representation matters. And I’m happy to be that person for others through my role as Miss South Bend, as a Hispanic woman in science, and as an IU School of Medicine research technician.” 

Ramos’ lab is led by Jamie Felton, MD, an assistant professor of pediatrics and physician scientist in the IU Center for Diabetes and Metabolic Diseases and the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research. The Felton lab focuses on researching Type 1 diabetes and the role the pancreas' beta cells play in autoimmune disease.

Having earned a bachelor’s degree in human biology from Indiana University Bloomington, Ramos joined the lab with the foundational skills to succeed, but Felton values Ramos’ work ethic and inquisitive nature most.

Jamie Felton and Rachel Ramos posing for a photo in the lab“Rachel stands out as someone willing to embrace new concepts and techniques with curiosity and enthusiasm, which is an amazing quality in a research technician,” Felton said. “She is eager to learn and undaunted when things don't work out as expected. Watching her begin to understand the questions we are asking in the lab about immune tolerance in Type 1 diabetes has been so exciting.”

Ramos enjoys her job not only for its supportive environment under Felton’s leadership but also because it’s flexible and allows her to contribute to advancing science and changing lives inside and outside the lab. 

When she’s not supporting diabetes research at work, Ramos is actively involved in community service and advocates for Alzheimer's and dementia awareness as Miss South Bend. If she wins the Miss Indiana title, she plans to continue raising awareness and funds for causes close to her heart so fewer Hoosier families face hardships like her family did after her great-grandmother Harriet’s dementia diagnosis. Ramos recalls the lack of resources and help her family experienced while her great-grandmother’s health declined and wishes they had better education and awareness of how to support dementia patients during that time.

 “I love the quote, ‘The best way to find yourself is by losing yourself in the service of others,’ by Mahatma Gandhi. I’ve dedicated my life to that quote by volunteering at Meals on Wheels of Central Indiana, with the Alzheimer’s Association and working with others to further research to change lives,” she said.

Rachel Ramos being crowned Miss South Bend 2024Ramos became part of the pageant community on a whim in early 2020 and won her first title as Miss Spirit of Indiana in 2023 before becoming Miss South Bend in 2024. She’ll represent South Bend, where she lived before moving to Indianapolis for her job, during the Miss Indiana competition June 24-29, 2024. Miss Indiana’s winner will represent the Hoosier state at the next Miss America pageant in January 2025.

Ramos said her love of competition and the connections she’s made in her community have made the past few years worthwhile, despite losing more pageant titles than she has won. Armed with a newfound appreciation for rejection, she is now more determined than ever to pursue her passions in pageantry and science.

“Rejection and constructive criticism are a part of pageants, life and science,” she said. “Trial-and-error is a major part of my world, and I must continue to be determined to learn from what I can improve on and try again.”

Default Author Avatar IUSM Logo

Jackie Maupin

Jackie supports the Herman B Wells Center for Pediatric Research at IU School of Medicine. As communications generalist, Jackie helps spread the word about the Wells Center's commitment to improving the health of children in Indiana and beyond through basic and translational research. She has several years of experience in non-profit and academic marketing and communications. 

The views expressed in this content represent the perspective and opinions of the author and may or may not represent the position of Indiana University School of Medicine.