1. Where did you attend college?
I completed an Associates degree in the Madison College Biotechnology Program in Madison, Wisconsin.
2. What do you currently do (what is your job or what educational program are you attending)? Please elaborate on your career pathway or education after finishing the biotech program.
I am currently a Research associate II at Invenra. We are a research and development company doing novel antibody discovery. We are focused mostly on cancer. I had an internship while in the program at a small R&D company that was working on alternatives to antibiotics. They called them DBAF's (Directed Biocide Antibody Fusions). After I finished school I went to Boviteq and worked as an IVF technician maintaining bovine embryos. Then I moved to Roche and worked on making DNA probes. When Roche announced it was closing, I moved to Invenra, and have been there almost 2 years. It's been a ride, but I've learned a lot about what I want and what I don't from my career and work environment.
3. What are some lab techniques that you commonly use? Any favorites?
I'm a part of the antibody analytics team. We purify the antibodies and assess their developability based on different analytical assays: SDS-PAGE, HPLC x 4 columns, melting temps and more. We work on those procedures during the first part of the week and work on R&D projects the second half. There is a nice routine but with all research comes surprises and further investigation. So it's nice to have a mix of both those things.
4. How has your Biotech program/certificate helped you in your current position?
The lab training the program provided me is second to none. I left the program and my internship with a good deal of confidence in my lab abilities. I've also had a lot of positive comments about my lab notebooks over the years, which is definitely due to the program and instructors. I've also appreciated all of the information given about companies in Madison, the job openings and interviews with former program graduates.
5. What pieces of advice would you give someone who is interested in a biotech career?
There are a couple. It is true that the Madison biotech community is small. This can be a great bonus. But you must be careful not to burn bridges. Also, I would advise future technicians to be confident. Apply to jobs even if you're worried you aren't qualified. Experience means a lot. Being open and trainable helps too. My last piece of advice is that a clean lab is a happy lab! Pick up after yourself when you finish an experiment.