The whole notion of linking UBRP students with UBRP alumni has great appeal. Both share the common experience of doing research as undergraduates and many share common scientific interests. Moreover, UBRP alumni, by virtue of their experiences, have a great deal to share with current UBRP students about applying to medical or graduate school, about job opportunities, about living in different parts of the country. Several UBRP alumni have returned to campus to give seminars on a variety of topics to UBRP students. Recently we decided to tap local alums whose experiences can benefit current students.
Leslie Parkinson, Research Biologist at SIDDCO (Systems Integration Drug Discovery Company), is one such alumnus. She graduated in December 1997 from UA with a BS degree in MCB. Leslie applied for positions in several biotech companies in the Tucson area and accepted a job at SIDDCO in February. SIDDCO is a young and growing firm east of Tucson. When Leslie was hired, she was the sole biologist.
Lunch was hosted by Justin Gazard (UBRPer in Dr. Wells lab in Biochemistry), who graduates this year and has considered going to work in industry. Tony Nuara (Drs. Grimes and Smith's lab in Biochemistry), Joshua Mermelstein (Dr. Szivek's Surgery/Orthopedic Lab), and Carol Bender completed the group. Leslie talked about the differences between a university research lab and one in industry. Time is a very valuable commodity in both, at SIDDCO for example, she tends to use kits rather than taking the time to make up buffers. While Leslie came into her position well prepared, she has had the opportunity to learn new techniques on the job. Part of her employment package included stock options in the company.
According to Tony, "After speaking with Leslie, I felt more secure that there were employment options after my BS should graduate and medical school fall through. It also seems to present a way to do research but without the pressure of grants and fellowships." Josh "learned that a full time lab job in the world of industry is much different that working in academia. In industry, the reports of experiments are confidential because of high levels of competition. In academia, researchers are encouraged to publish their findings."
UBRPers lunching with Tasha Altheide, gained some insight about life as a graduate student, about preparing a competitive application to the NSF Predoctoral Fellowship Program, and about Tasha's research. She is currently a doctoral student in Ecology and Evolutionary Biology working in Dr. Hammer's Laboratory of Molecular Systematics and Evolution. She was a UBRP student in Dr. Kidwell's lab in Ecology & Evolutionary Biology and an anthropology major, who received an NSF Predoctoral Fellowship for her graduate work.
Olivia Oehrle Steele (Dr. Gervay's lab in Chemistry) "enjoyed listening to Tasha talk about her research." She continues. "I heard Dr. Hammer speak last year, and it was interesting to hear how the research method allows them to reach their conclusions."
Michael Mosko (Dr. Ramiswami's lab in Molecular & Cellular Biology) found the discussion "concerning graduate school was actually quite informative. Some of the issues that Tasha discussed helped me answer some questions I had concerning this issue." Also attending was Todd Thompson (Dr. Gervay's lab, Chemistry).