Science in the Mall, Y'all
Part 1 - The Journey From Start-Up to Established Company
Previous ABI intern Liz Hampton is back on the show with her colleague Barrett Morrow, who was the first hire at Austin-based diagnostics and testing company Nuclein. Like Angstrom, Nuclein is working on COVID tests, although their goal is to create a cheap, disposable, portable, all-in-one self-test diagnostic device that can help monitor infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Nuclein started out using ABI’s wet lab (which you can learn more about in Season 1), but have since grown out of the space and gone on to work in a larger lab. Barrett talks about his background and how he ended up being Nuclein’s first employee, giving us his first-hand experience in their intensive interview process and sharing what it was like to battle imposter syndrome as a young student trying to break into the bioscience field.
Since their time as a start-up at ABI, Nuclein has grown exponentially, and Barrett is now on the other side of the hiring table, doing the interviewing. He shares some insight into what hiring looks like from the company’s perspective, and Liz talks about her experiences transitioning from ABI to working for Nuclein during the pandemic. They talk about what it was like to work for a diagnostics company during a global pandemic, and how their experience has changed at Nuclein since it has taken off and expanded so much in the past couple years. First Nuclein outgrew the lab space at ABI, and then they outgrew their second space, so the growth is continuing as the company flourishes.
Barrett and Liz talk about the joys and pains of working for a start-up while it expands, and get into the details of how their roles have shifted since they first started at Nuclein, explaining what it’s like to work for a start-up in the bioscience industry. The close out part one with some insight into a day-in-the-life at Nuclein!
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12. Notes From the Recruiting Office with Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies38:20Since the COVID vaccine has made revolutionary strides, there are more job opportunities in the field of diagnostics than ever before, and we’re joined by Ramesh Koukuntla from Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies to talk about this expanding and evolving job market. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies manufactures products for various companies that have an exciting new vaccine or gene therapy. Since COVID and the vaccine production and development that ensued as a direct result of the pandemic, the job market in bioscience, especially vaccine-related bioscience, has exploded. Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies has doubled their employees and expanded their team of experienced scientists in a very short amount of time, and this growth is continuing. Ramesh shares the company’s thought process regarding hiring, especially when they look to local colleges and universities to recruit. He talks about entry level positions and the kinds of education, skills, experiences, and personality or character traits they look for when they are hiring. He explains that a lot of students with a variety of educational backgrounds are welcome to apply to relevant positions and will be trained in the business side of things if hired. He also shares that when it’s appropriate, the company may even encourage them to pursue a higher degree if necessary. As a Process Development expert, Ramesh explains all of the different sides of Fujifilm Disoynth’s work, from production to purification to testing and all of the many steps in between. He shares the insight that no matter what kind of career you’re interested in, you can find something in bioscience that relates – even if your interest is not explicitly scientific, such as an interest in marketing, for example. He talks about the different paths someone working at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies can explore within the company. At the end of the day, science is moving very fast and no matter where you work or what your role is, scientists will always be learning and growing on the job. After explaining all of these “flavors” of science, Ramesh closes out the conversation with advice for students who are looking towards bioscience for their career, encouraging them to secure some hands-on experience through institutions such as ABI. Learn more about Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies. https://fujifilmdiosynth.com/Learn more about ACC Bioscience Incubator. https://sites.austincc.edu/incubator/This is a founding_media podcast. https://foundingmedia.com/
11. Part 2 - The Business of Biotech & Spitting into Tubes36:34Attention all aspiring scientists! We've got a real treat for you on this episode of the Science in the Mall Y'all podcast. Barrett and Liz from Nuclein are here to spill the beans on what it takes to land a job in the bioscience industry.Barrett's got the inside scoop on what hiring managers are really looking for when they're sifting through a pile of resumes. And let me tell you, it's not just about how many degrees you've got hanging on your wall. Liz takes us on a wild ride through her own interview process, complete with a play-by-play breakdown of every awkward moment.But the real gem in this episode is the secret sauce that separates the good candidates from the great ones. Spoiler alert: it's not all about what's on your resume. Barrett and Liz gives up the goods on the importance of character and personality when it comes to landing a job in this competitive field.And let's not forget the exciting world of research and development! Barrett gives us the rundown on how to turn your cool ideas into a profitable business, while Liz let's the cat out of the bag on the amazing technology she got to work with at ABI.So, what are you waiting for? Tune in now to learn more about Nuclein and the ACC Bioscience Incubator. And remember, the key to success in the bioscience industry is to never stop learning and seizing opportunities!Learn more about Nuclein: https://www.nuclein.com/Learn more about ACC Bioscience Incubator: https://sites.austincc.edu/incubator/This is a founding_media podcast: https://foundingmedia.com/
9. Community in the Time of COVID38:04Jolie is back on the podcast with her supervisor Josue Moran, who is the co-founder and VP of Research and Development at Angstrom Bio. Angstrom Bio is an Austin-based biotech company that is using Amplicon sequencing to revolutionize diagnostics, which Josue and Jolie explain in detail. Angstrom Bio’s ultimate goal is to develop a diagnostic tool that is more efficient and sensitive, so that one test tube can detect multiple viruses and variants at a faster rate, instead of requiring multiple tests for each virus. They are also able to test more patients at once, so the work that they are doing is incredibly valuable on many levels. Angstrom Bio is a start-up that was conceived in response to COVID-19, and Josue shares the company’s journey from their initial pivot to work on diagnostics, to moving from St. Louis to Austin, to finding a community of entrepreneurial scientists that helped them scale and grow. Josue and Jolie met through the Austin Community College Bioscience Incubator lab space, and Josue shares how Angstrom Bio found lab space at ABI through a company called Tevido, highlighting the unique community of entrepreneurs in the biosciences here in Austin. Josue and Jolie share the journey that Angstrom Bio has been on over the last 2 years, and explain how crucial ABI and Austin’s community of entrepreneurs and ecosystem of resources and like-minded scientists was to their development. Jolie explains how she was able to use her experiences at ABI to start her career as a Research and Development Scientist, and Josue and Jolie talk about their shared mindset about what they’re looking for in their team members. They highlight the importance of being fearless and being willing to test and fail and never give up. They close out the episode with advice for people who are interested in a career in the biosciences, vouching for the importance of networking and finding creative ways to “prove” your skills and character to hiring teams, whether it’s through an internship or a volunteer opportunity or in the classroom. Learn more about Angstrom Bio. Learn more about ACC Bioscience Incubator. This is a founding_media podcast.
8. A Bioscience Playground32:14Former interns Jolie Muren and Liz Hampton both joined Austin Community College after deciding that their original educational paths weren’t suited for them. Jolie shares how she started out pursuing nursing, but quickly learned that she loved science and the creative problem-solving it entailed. She was drawn to the ACC Bioscience Incubator because she was able to get hands-on experience and jump into ‘doing science,’ instead of just learning about it. She shares how Nancy encouraged and supported the interns to try new things and how ABI gave her diverse experiences in all types of biotech processes and instruments. Liz had her own unique trajectory, seeking out ACC after moving to Austin specifically because it was a biotech epicenter and she knew that biotech was the industry she wanted to work in. When she visited ACC she saw signs for the ACC Bioscience Incubator, and decided to pursue the biotech program at ACC because of the internship opportunities at ABI. She shares Jolie’s experience that she was able to try new things and “play” with technology that she would never have encountered in a classroom or anywhere else, and both Jolie and Liz share some of the projects they were able to work on during their time as ABI interns. Our guests talk about how their ABI internships helped them in job interviews and how the skills and hands-on experience they gained during their internships transferred to their current roles at diagnostic companies. Beyond the knowledge and experience they learned at ABI and ACC, Jolie and Liz also talk about their personality traits that make them a good fit for their current roles. Both agree that perseverance and a desire to get to the bottom of a problem no matter what are helpful traits for aspiring scientists to possess. They close out the conversation talking about how many COVID tests they’ve had to take as part of their jobs working in labs developing new testing methods, and Jolie and Liz give their advice to folks who are interested in bioscience, stressing that no matter where your interests lie, bioscience and biotech companies have a role for every type of person out there. Learn more about Angstrom Bio. Learn more about Nuclein. Learn more about ACC Bioscience Incubator. This is a founding_media podcast.
7. Fancy Plumbers and Quality Control27:39In part 2 of this conversation, Mike and Amanda talk about what they’re doing now in the job force. Mike is in Downstream Processing at XBiotech, and Amanda secured a new job recently in quality control and assurance at National Resilience in Florida. While they don’t work together, they are familiar with each other’s roles because both roles exist in both companies, and so they give us unique insight about what each person’s job is like from the perspective of having that job, and interacting with that job. XBiotech manufactures and researches medications, and more specifically antibody therapies. This means they find people with a resistance to an illness or affliction and use the human matter with those antibodies to create medicine. Mike uses the ACTA Machine we learned about last episode to filter and refine a big vat of material that contains the antibody in it - although he describes what he does as a “fancy plumber” since it is so dependent on the instrument itself! Amanda’s career began at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Texas, and she has since moved to Florida to pursue a new opportunity at National Resilience. In both companies she found her niche in Quality Control and Quality Assurance where she audits documents and processes to ensure that everyone is following regulations and best practices. Mike and Amanda confess that they would not want to work in the other person’s job, but that their respective roles fit their unique personalities. They explain the many different roles in a biotechnology company and how there is a position fit for every type of person. They also vouch for the importance of finding a job that fits your personality and your preferences, in addition to fitting your passion for science. Mike and Amanda hold a discussion about the business side of working in biotech, especially for newer Biotech companies or companies that contract out their facilities, and close out the podcast episode with advice for aspiring scientists and those interested in bioscience careers. Learn more about XBiotech. Learn more about ACC Bioscience Incubator. This is a founding_media podcast.
6. Troubleshooting, Hands-On Experience, and Vegetable Beef Soup28:10Former interns Mike Delisi and Amanda Brown join the podcast in conversation together because they interned at ABI at the same time! They share their unique life experiences that led them to Austin Community College, and explain how they came across the ACC Bioscience Incubator during their time studying bioscience. One experience that both Mike and Amanda share is that ABI gave them critical hands-on experience that helped them get their first jobs after graduation. This exposure to a laboratory environment and the instruments and processes within that environment lent them the confidence they needed to try new things outside of the classroom in professional settings. Critical thinking, problem-solving, and being comfortable making mistakes are not skills that are easily acquired in a classroom, and both former interns explain how ABI internships helped them hone these important attributes which gave them an edge in the job market. In addition to soft skills, ABI exposed Mike to the ACTA machine, an instrument that he uses today in his role in Downstream Processing at XBiotech. He and Amanda explain what an ACTA Machine is, and how it is used in the process of manufacturing medication at XBiotech. This hands-on experience earned during their internships at ABI plus the soft skills gained there combined with their Associate’s degrees helped secure their positions after graduation. Mike and Amanda point out that many of their colleagues have a Bachelor’s degree, but because of their experiences at ABI they were able to avoid possessing this “requirement” and instead compensate with real-life experience in laboratories. We close out part 1 with a conversation about how to secure job interviews after graduating, especially with an Associate’s degree, and Mike and Amanda share their tips for creating a resume that the bioscience companies in town can’t say no to. Learn more about XBiotech. Learn more about ACC Bioscience Incubator. This is a founding_media podcast.
5. Attitude is Everything42:53Marcia McCallum is back for another episode of “Science in the Mall, Y’all”, but this time she is joined by her supervisor David Medina. David is the Upstream Processing Manager at XBiotech, and Marcia works under him in Upstream Processing. XBiotech manufactures and develops medication from human monoclonal antibodies – and Marcia and David kick off their episode by explaining what that actually means. They talk about what the “upstream” side of the operations entails, from development to cultivating and mass producing cell culture with the antibody cells before it can go to “downstream” for purification and synthesis. They share the dynamic in their lab and what a day-in-the-life is like for Upstream Processing teams at XBiotech as they work with each other and the cell cultures. They even have some funny stories to tell about epic fails they turned into wins. As a hiring manager, David talks about the kinds of attributes he looks for when he’s recruiting. While skills and knowledge are important, a good attitude, work ethic, and eagerness to learn are the most important things that David looks for when he’s interviewing prospective candidates. David and Marcia discuss their unconventional educational backgrounds and how they combined those things with their hobbies, attitudes, and humility to secure their positions at XBiotech and thrive in their fields. Their inspiring journeys reveal how the right mindset and drive is essential to success, and David and Marcia give us an honest insight into the interview process and the hiring process, from the perspective of being hired and being the person doing the hiring. Marcia and David’s experiences and stories show that you can have a successful career in bioscience regardless of the degree that you hold provided you possess the work ethic, drive, and passion for the work. They talk about how they learn everyday in their job even though they are not in an explicitly academic setting, what students can do to augment their educational experiences to get hands-on skills, and why each employees’ character traits are crucial to a successful lab team. This episode is full of interesting anecdotes and great advice for anyone considering pursuing a career in the biosciences.
4. Shining a Light on Hidden Bioscience Professions31:36In Part 2 of this conversation between Mauricio Tellez and Dr. Rodney Rohde, we explore how the COVID-19 pandemic has affected the Clinical Laboratory Science field. Dr. Rohde explains the double-edged sword of the pandemic shining a light on the profession and increasing the general public’s awareness of it, while also adding a lot of stress and burnout due to the increased need for CLS professionals. Dr. Rohde and Mauricio express the need for more folks to take the CLS career path, whether they are working in a hospital setting or pursuing a research-oriented role, and explain the job opportunities that exist for those who work in CLS and want to continue to grow and learn beyond an Associate’s or Bachelor’s degree and CLS Credential. Mauricio demystifies the CLS program and shares stories about how his unique skills and personality traits as an individual combine with his passion for science to make him perfect for his job. He gets into the nitty-gritty of his day-to-day on the job, explaining how his time as an intern at ABI helped to set him up for success in the CLS Program and his current job. Part of this included exposure to instruments and processes, but part of this was also about how he was able to understand laboratory concepts such as quality control that can only be learned through hands-on activities like those that he was able to do at ABI. Today Mauricio is a Clinical Laboratory Scientist in a medical setting, helping to identify if patients may have leukemia lymphoma, monitoring HIV in patients, and helping to detect mutations in patients’ hemoglobin. These kinds of detailed laboratory results and analyses help to determine critical components of the patients’ care, and 70% of medical decisions are made off of lab tests like the ones that Mauricio runs and interprets. Mauricio and Dr. Rohde close out the conversation by explaining the job outlook for CLS professionals and encouraging students who are interested in science and want to help others, but maybe don’t feel thrilled about sitting at the bedside of ill patients, to explore the career option. They share their advice for students who are interested in science, and advice for mentors of students who are starting to consider their future career plans. Learn more about TX State’s CLS Program.Learn more about Dr. Rohde. Learn more about ACC Bioscience Incubator. This is a founding_media podcast.