iJOBS Virtual Site Visit: Janssen

By Rebecca Manubag

On July 8th, Rutgers iJOBS took attendees on an informative virtual site visit to  Janssen, the pharmaceutical branch of Johnson & Johnson. This event was open to undergraduate, graduate, and post-graduate students interested in learning more about Janssen’s hiring process, as well as some details of specific positions held by the variety of panelists.

Johnson & Johnson, known as one of the top American medical device corporations, has received increasing attention in the past year for development of their single-dose COVID-19 vaccine. Founded over 130 years ago, it’s also the world’s largest healthcare company and is at the top of the list of companies in Big Pharma (Forbes). Currently, J&J has three main sectors: pharmaceuticals, medical devices, and consumer health products. The virtual site tour focused on employees of Janssen, the pharmaceutical branch where their goal is to ‘create a future where disease is a thing of the past’. We had the pleasure of hearing from a number of employees covering several bases. This included hiring tips from recruiter Danielle Sims, information on Janssen’s new inclusivity initiative (SODEP) from Dr. Erica Bozeman, as well as insight on joining industry from many early and late drug developmental scientists.

The event began with Senior Talent Acquisition Specialist, Danielle Sims, who described that Janssen itself is broken into six therapeutic areas: immunology, cardiovascular and metabolic disease, pulmonary hypertension, infectious diseases and vaccines, neuroscience, and oncology. This itself lends endless opportunities for individuals in STEM interested in working at Janssen. Danielle went on to provide job search tips to increase chances of applicants being appropriately matched with a position: search by keyword, location, requisition ID, and hashtag (e.g. #jnjinternship, #postdoc, etc.). She also stressed the importance of turning on job alerts to be sent to your email, a tip that I thought was just meant to irk potential hires! Joining J&J’s Global Talent Hub is also a resource to match with relevant jobs. Additionally, Danielle shared  some general application tips that are often highlighted when applying to any position. This included: 1. Do your research on the company and position, 2. Utilize your network and personal connections (especially for referrals), 3. Set up job alerts to be an ‘early applicant’ for desired positions, 4. Apply using a personal email address, rather than a school/institution address, to ensure you receive any application updates, 5. Do not focus on a cover letter as much as highlighting specifics on your resume, and 6. Check your inbox frequently after applying.

Following Danielle’s application advice, we heard from Janssen’s SODEP lead Dr. Erica Bozeman. SODEP, or Janssen’s Scholars of Oncology Diversity Engagement Program, is a new equity and inclusion initiative geared toward minority students in a PhD, medical, post-doctoral, or pharmacy program interested in oncology research. This initiative was described as an opportunity to expose students who identify as African-American or Hispanic to a stepwise program including ‘Exposure’, ‘Mentorship’, and ‘Placement’ phases. Be sure to visit the SODEP website to learn more as they are currently accepting applications!

This led into dialogue from panelists who currently hold various positions in therapeutic and medical safety areas of Janssen. Panelists included: Dr. Anne Yuqing Yang, Davit Sargsyan, Dr. Eric Huselid, Dr. Victor Dishy, Anastasiya Koshkina, PharmD, Dr. Leila Larbi, and Dr. Concetta Lipardi. The panelists discussed their educational and scientific journeys, touching on what ultimately brought them to their respective roles at Janssen. The overarching theme seemed to be that any and all diverse backgrounds only contribute to the vision of Janssen, rather than act as a limitation. For example, Dr. Anne Yuqing Yang discussed that her pre-pharmacy and pharmacology background led her to a Senior Scientist position in Consumer Health at Janssen. During the pandemic, she moved to Clinical Pharmacology & Pharmacometrics, where she supports interactions with health authorities like the FDA; this goes hand in hand with the support of clinical trials. Conversely, Anastasiya Koshkina actually received her PharmD degree and knew she wanted involvement in clinical development throughout her career as a pharmacist. Eventually, Anastasiya was accepted into Rutgers’ PRIF Program, an industry-based training program which collaborates with top pharmaceutical companies to expose PharmDs to the pharmaceutical industry. This led her to her current position at Janssen as a Clinical Scientist.

The panel also consisted of individuals with medical training: Drs. Victor Dishy, Leila Larbi, and Concetta Lipardi. Dr. Dishy is the Senior Director of Translational & Experimental Medicine, and clinical leader in the cardiovascular and metabolic disease area. Although having spent many years in a clinical research setting, he switched over to clinical pharmacology which eventually led to his position at Janssen. Dr. Dishy described his job as “exciting” because of the chance to learn something new every day—a sentiment that seemed to be consistent among the majority of the panelists. Dr. Larbi took a different route with her MD background and works at Janssen as a Medical Safety Officer, where she ensures safety of products and patients in clinical trial phases I-IV. She stressed that the patient is always the first focus, which is reassuring coming from a scientist in big pharma, an area that the layperson typically has trouble giving credence to. Dr. Lipardi is an MD/PhD in the same therapeutic area as Drs. Dishy and Larbi, but focuses more on late-stage drug development in large cardiovascular clinical studies. Having held previous positions at Merck and NIH, Dr. Lipardi stated that her daily motivation has been improvement of peoples’ lives (something that is likely at the forefront for many early career scientists).

Davit Sargsyan stood out as a trained statistician from Armenia who joined Johnson & Johnson as an intern in 2011, eventually landing a full-time position as a Principal Statistician where he supports both clinical and pre-clinical studies. He is currently working toward his PhD at the Rutgers Ernesto Mario School of Pharmacy. Finally, Dr. Eric Huselid is a recent graduate from Rutgers, and was in the first cohort of students to graduate through the iJOBS program. Because of this, he was able to give some relevant tips on finding an industry position as a fresh new graduate. Currently, he works as a Contract Scientist in the Functional Genomics group at Janssen where he’s involved with CRISPR/Cas9 screens. Dr. Huselid discussed the importance of researching a company’s preferred contracting service company if you’re interested in getting your foot in as a contract scientist (e.g. Kelly Services for J&J). He also stressed the importance of having a quality LinkedIn profile, and utilizing connections of individuals who may already be a full-time employee with your target company. Overall, he spoke very positively about this type of position, alluding to the fluidity of the 1-2 year term as a contract scientist.

Apart from sharing informative details about their journeys, our panelists also touched on the macroscopic advantages of working in pharma/industry, and specifically at Janssen. Davit and Dr. Dishy agreed that Janssen and J&J as a whole have friendly, inviting, and collaborative atmospheres. Over the years, it seems that life in industry has been portrayed as cutthroat, inflexible, and unreasonably fast-paced. Although all companies differ, our panelists seemed to stress the contrary– that a fast-paced environment can also come with reasonable work-life balance. Most importantly, having a background that may not be traditional in the pipeline leading to an industry position doesn’t mean these differences are discounted, but rather they are embraced and contribute to the ability to move across areas within large pharma companies. Dr. Larbi concluded with a reassuring morsel: that you are not expected to come into pharma knowing everything about an area, drug, or disease, because inevitably you will still learn something new every day.

Altogether, this event seemed to have a secondary effect aside from getting the scoop on hiring tips and types of positions at Janssen; it demystified some of the conventional ideas of what it looks like to be a scientist in big pharma. No matter your background, whether in research or research-adjacent, it seems that the opportunities at a company like Janssen or J&J are abundant and welcoming.  

This article was edited by Senior editor Brianna Alexander.

iJOBS Simulation: Consulting Case Study

By Juliana Corrêa-Velloso

Among the career paths for STEM PhDs, Life Science Consulting is an attractive possibility for many students and postdocs. However, even amongst the most enthusiasts about this career, the question “what exactly does a consultant do?” can be challenging to answer. On July 7th, iJOBS hosted a workshop led by Sidnee Pinho, Chief Operation Officer of Clearview. Attendees learned about the core skills of a consultant and were guided through a case study. If you are interested in knowing more about this career path, the good news is that as PhD students and postdocs we already have most of the skills needed for Life Science Consulting.

Currently, according to Merriam-Webster dictionary, a consultant is a person who facilitates change and provides subject matter expertise; who offers advice, an expert1. In the pharmaceutical and biotechnology fields, consultants are hired to provide companies with a recommendation about business decisions and market landscape analysis. To get to the solution, consultants usually work in a team, in which they coordinate the strategy, the approach and the communication with the client. This versatility of tasks assignments is one of the main peculiarities of professionals in consulting. Indeed, as Sidnee Pinho explained, in either big management consulting firms or small boutique companies, consultants wear many heats over the life of a project.

Screenshot of Sidnee Pinho’s presentation.

As a project leader or a collaborator in a team, some key responsibilities will always be present throughout a career in consulting. Sidnee Pinho explained how each one of the following duties is important in the daily routine of a consultant:

  1. Problem definer: What is the question the client needs answered? What is the scope of the analysis? At the beginning of the process, it is crucial to understand the client’s needs and define the approach for the solution.
  2. Project manager: Once the project scope is defined, the next step is to develop a work plan. Establishing deadlines, assigning tasks and keeping track of the progress is the backbone of the project.
  3. Data searcher: PhDs are well familiar with the importance of good quality data for a project. Learning how to search for respectable scientific literature and interpret results from the bench is one of the many lessons of a PhD. Similarly, consultants need to collect all the information relevant to the project on which they are assigned. However, rather than a deep and specific analysis typical in academia, the industry requires a different approach. Instead, by doing quick strategic research, consultants become experts in several fields (financial, clinical, basic science, market) necessary to finish the project.
  4. Thought process organizer: Well-designed frameworks are essential to guide the team towards the answer. By being in line with the client’s needs, a good framework helps define the metrics and criteria used in the analysis. 
  5. Quality controller: When working with data, accuracy is critical for credibility. All research should rely on reputable sources and be in a time frame relevant to the project. As expected, validating the results is necessary before taking the next step on the project.
  6. Storyteller: Knowing how to convey a message is a gold-standard skill for any communicator. Depending on the audience, two strategies can be used. Business educated audience with limited time availability requires a “Top-Down” method. A straightforward presentation focused on the conclusion will deliver the expected message. On the other hand, an audience naïve to the subject or with controversial opinions will benefit from a “Bottom-Up” method. By focusing on the key underlying assumption that drove the conclusion, consultants increase their chance of communicating their message.  
  7. Relationship manager: As in any commercial arrangement, client satisfaction requires close attention. Learning how to manage the client is key to most careers in industry.

As a PhD student or postdoc, it is impossible to read all these assignments and not feel that this description is similar to our daily life in the laboratory. Defining a question, establishing a methodology, planning your project, collecting and communicating your results to different audiences (lab meetings presentations, scientific meeting talks, writing papers) and most importantly, managing the relationship with the client, or in this case, colleagues, collaborators and the PI. Through years of gathered experience, STEM PhDs already have most of the transferable skills necessary to pursue a consulting career. Understanding the varied roles required to succeed in this field, STEM PhDs can plan the transition by improving their technical abilities and soft interpersonal skills. With more than 25 years of experience in the Life Sciences industry, Sidnee Pinho shared some advice for future consultants that will help not only in the project execution but also in ensuring that the client expectations are exceeded:

  • To get to the root cause of issues, constantly question everything with the simple question, “But why?”. Be comfortable in asking and answering this question.
  • Ultimately, clients will rely on the consultant for the expert opinion. To feel comfortable in this position, you need to understand the project’s specificities, such as the scientific background, market analysis, competition, business models, financial valuation, etc. In other words, be the “expert.”
  • Do not be afraid of failure.  Every experience is a learning opportunity.

After this helpful and informative overview, attendees were invited to work in teams on a project simulation. The project assignment was as follows:

 “Company X has the opportunity to pursue a long-acting version of prednisone, which is a steroid used to treat morning stiffness associated with rheumatoid arthritis (RA).  Company X has absolutely no experience in the RA market and has no assets in rheumatology generally”.

One complication framed the situation:

“The company has many potential development opportunities and is not sure if they should pursue this long-acting steroid or something else.  They will only pursue this opportunity if they believe they can make $200 million in topline US peak year revenue“.

Groups should provide a recommendation to the following questions:

“Should company X pursue this development opportunity of a long-acting steroid? Calculate the $ opportunity and summarize why or why not in 3 bullet points.”

Attendees were divided into three groups and had one hour to work on the case. The first challenge was to select the necessary information from the extensive supporting material. Groups had access to the RA clinical background, RA prevalence in the US from the past ten years, RA clinical diagnoses criteria, pharmacological alternatives and criteria for steroids treatment, opinions from experts in the field and past and future projections of the RA market. As a PhD, it is difficult to “ignore” data. We tend to look at every piece of information before moving forward on the process. Keeping in mind the advice provided by Sidnee Pinho, the group quickly learned how to select only the relevant information to the case and started debating the possible recommendation.

Surprisingly, after one hour of debating, each group came up with a different revenue number and opposite opinions about the drug launching. Sidnee Pinho explained that rather than the “correct solution,” the structure of the process was more important than the outcome. How did the groups interpret the data? What was the rationale behind the approach? For example, the information about treatment duration and drug dosage per day was missing in the supporting material. Depending on how the groups filled this gap, the outcome was different. As we learned, instead of rushing to get to an answer, it is important to ask critical questions and provide structured and strengthened solutions. In fact, in real life, consultants constantly need to make decisions with limited data and time. In these cases, aiming to understand the problem and getting to the root of it by asking “But why?” helps to provide a structured solution to the client.

This workshop was an excellent opportunity to learn how to tackle a case in Consulting and learn valuable advice from an experienced consultant. As we can see, the parallel between Life Sciences Consulting and a STEM PhD is clear. Students and postdocs will find several opportunities to sharpen their transferable skills during the academic journey and shorten the gap between industry and academia. I invite you to look at your PhD from a new perspective and answer the question: how many of these hats are you wearing already?


  1. “consultant.” Merriam-Webster.com. 2021. https://www.merriam-webster.com (18 May 2021).

This article was edited by Senior Editor Brianna Alexander.

The Logic Model and your project

By Natalie Losada

“A problem well stated is a problem half solved.”

Charles Kettering

Our speaker at this iJOBS event on May 10th was not only a down-to-earth, insightful leader, but he is also a founder of the STEM Advocacy Institute (SAi), a place where you can perfect your Logic Model for your project.  By the end of this article, you’ll understand the Logic Model, how to apply the Model, and where you can practice the Model. 

  • The Logic Model is defined as a theory of change visually linking the connections between the problem, solution, activities, outputs, outcomes, and the intended impact desired by a given program.  It is something that can help you properly plan and understand your projects and life goals.  A schematic outline to help you develop your logic model is shown below.
The Logic Model schematic.  You can use these instructions to help plan your projects in your professional and personal life.

Dr. Fanuel Muindi told the attendees to take screenshot of this model outline and save it, because it should be used time and time again.  When filling out this model template, you need to spend just as much time, if not more time, on shaping and defining the “Problem Space” as you will eventually spend on the “Solution Space.”  Most people don’t spend nearly enough time on this step, and then the solution becomes more difficult to manage or does not address the problem in its entirety.  For example, if you want to be a in Medical Communications in a big pharmaceutical company, is that the “Problem”?  Dr. Muindi answered that the real problem is that you want to communicate science to the public.  Problems and goals should address deeper values and need to be thought out carefully.  You should anticipate framing the problem, reframing it, pitching it to someone, and reframing it.  If your search for the problem looks like the picture below, that’s totally normal.  Dr. Muindi’s path was not a straight and narrow path, but it’s a path he chose that gave him opportunities for the most learning.  Ultimately, his learning experiences helped him understand the problem space.

Screenshot of the Zoom event where Dr. Muindi shows graphically the explorative path of defining the problem that leads to a successful project plan.

The next step is to develop the “Solution Space” or the “how” stage.  If you’ve written a grant or research proposal for your thesis, this is where you explain any instruments, collaborators, or materials you’ll need.  The Logic Model goes one step further and includes the activities you’ll need to complete to accomplish your goal.  Dr. Muindi mentioned that if he enjoys the activities listed in his Logic Model, he knows that the goal is a great fit for him and he’ll stay motivated every step of the way.  Similar to grants proposals, you’ll also need to also explain the “so what?”, which in the Logic Model involves two categories.  The “Outputs” measure productivity and “Outcomes” are changes taking place as a result of your actions.  For example, your output can be a published book and the outcome can be that people read it and are impacted by it!  This could be extended to a paper published during your PhD where your outcome could be that the paper is heavily cited and positively influences your field.  One step that might get overlooked without using the Logic Model is gaging your “Major Assumptions.”  These are things that could put you at a disadvantage if you’re not careful. Any unrealistic assumptions about your abilities, limitations, motivation, or the industry in which you are working need to be carefully considered.  For example, if your goal requires you to be super organized, but you are not, that could cause your dream to fail.  Dr. Muindi suggested using the SWOT analysis to find your “Major Assumptions.”  List out the Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities, and Threats that pertain to you and your plan.  For an example of a complete Logic Model, Dr Muindi shared his below.

Screenshot of Dr. Fanuel Muindi’s professional logic model, filled out as an example for the JOBS event attendees to understand how to structure their projects and life goals.

The Logic Model is implemented and cherished at the SAi (STEM Advocacy Institute) founded by Dr. Muindi .  This institute is “an incubator that provides access to research, infrastructure, mentorship, community, training, and funding to accelerate” projects of those who are lacking resources.  These projects can be initiatives, tools, or programs built using the Logic Model.  SAi aims to support underrepresented women and men that have great ideas and great work ethic, but are missing the connection to get their projects into development.  They offer a 10-week SAi Fellows Program to get people started on their project, of which 3 weeks involve framing the question in the best possible way.  Residents of the program attend lectures and spend time beefing up their projects so that by the end, they can pitch their ideas to the public and execute their plans independently.  The demand for their incubator is accelerating so be ready to apply to the next cohort in June (program starts in September)!

To wrap up a perfectly informative event, we had a rapid Q&A session.  There so many insightful questions, but here are just three great highlights from the attendees.

How do you know if your outcome is worth pursuing?

There’s no way to know for certain.  Dr. Muindi stressed that you should be comfortable and willing to go back and change directions.  As everything is a learning experience, your path towards your goal will be very blurry.  Be comfortable with the unknown.

Should logic models be resilient to things like COVID-19?

It’s good to think about what potential threats could detail your plan, because every model has its strengths and weaknesses.  You can think about this is the “Major Assumptions” section as well.  For Dr. Muindi, the pandemic further energized him to follow and abide by his logic model instead of derailing him.  The chaos around the world helped him see that his logic model was the right approach for the goal.  If it wasn’t, he would’ve been further motivated to reframe and replan!

  How do you make the end goal desirable to partners when they are needed long term?

Share your logic as early as possible and make sure your interests are aligned in early stages.  As with any partnership, you need to know each other’s priorities.  Communication is key for any collaboration!

One of Dr. Muindi’s final words of advice should be something that stays in your head every day and ally day.  Ask yourself the hard question – is everything you’re doing making sense for your goal?

Ask yourself the hard question – is everything you’re doing making sense for your goal?

Dr. Fanuel Muindi 

This article was edited by Senior Editor, Samantha Avina.

iJOBS Virtual Site Visit: Merck

Written by: Soumyadipa Das

If you have a background in science and currently looking to work for big pharmaceuticals, then you have opened the perfect article.

On Tuesday, May 4th Rutgers iJOBS arranged a virtual site visit to the pharmaceutical company Merck. One of the world’s major players in the pharmaceutical industry, Merck is a 130-year-old global healthcare company with the mission, “Translate breakthrough biomedical research into meaningful new therapies and vaccines that improve and extend the lives of people worldwide.” Merck operates with 74k employees in 140+ countries worldwide with a heavy focus in biomedical research and development (R&D). In 2020 Merck allocated $13.6 billion in its research and development sector with one-fifth of the total company employees working in the R&D department. Merck has a total of four research sites in US: Kenilworth and Rahway, NJ, West Point, PA, Boston & Cambridge, MA, and South San Francisco, CA. In this virtual event, the attendees were able to interact with the nine current employees of Merck and gain a deeper insight about the company, especially regarding hiring.

Nine Merck employees on the virtual site visit zoom panel represented a diverse cross-section of the company. Seven Panelists were from three distinct sections of the Merck Department of Pharmacokinetics, Pharmacodynamics & Drug Metabolism (PPDM). Drs. Jingjing Guo and Bingming Chen from the Absorption, Distribution, Metabolism, and Elimination (PPDM-ADME) sector, Mr. KJ Lee and Dr. Bernard Choi from Bio analytics (PPDM-BA), and Dr. Xiaowei Zang from Quantitative Pharmacology and Pharmacometrics (PPDM-QP2). Hiring managers Mr. Tom Bateman and Dr. Xiang Yu for PPDM were present as well. Panelists from other Merck departments included Dr. Colena Johnson from Safety Assessment & Laboratory Animal Resources (SALAR) and Dr. Joseph Fantuzzo from Analytical Research and Development (AR&D).

Merck has invested in working together with different departments to ultimately improve life of patients while not restricting themselves to a particular area of biomedical science. Hiring manager Mr. Tom Bateman explained how Merck initially used to work on small molecule-based drugs and has now adapted itself to work with high molecular weight samples ranging from peptides to virus-like particles. Discovery programs in Merck are diverse, 30% of the discovery programs are dedicated to infectious diseases and vaccines, which resulted in the development of V920, a 97% effective vaccine for the Zaire Ebola virus, and granted approval by the FDA in 2019. They also have dedicated 35% of the discovery programs to Immuno-Oncology, resulting the development of popular treatments and drugs like Keytruda, Lynparza, and Lenvima used for treating different kinds of cancer. A chart from Dr. Bateman’s presentation showed that drugs developed by Merck so far took on average 15 years from the early development stage to product approval. With these vast expansions, Merck has a variety of positions to offer people from all fields of STEM ranging from disciplines like mathematics and chemistry to pathology and toxicology.

Panelist Dr. Bingming Chen encouraged potential future applicants to apply for the  Merck post-doctoral program as an excellent way to gain some industry experience while maintaining the good record of publication and presentation.  As an international employee herself, Dr. Chen also explained how Merck provides a welcoming ambiance regarding work visa sponsorship as well. Additionally, most of the Post-doctoral fellows are often offered permanent employment at the company upon post-doc completion. When asked about work-life balance, panelist Dr. Chen replied that she tries to maintain a 9 to 5 schedule but in general work hours are flexible and allows for a well-balanced life for the employee.

As some Merck departments are hiring, panelists described aspects of their Merck departments as they are unique and focus on different biomedical research topics. Dr. Bingming Chen from the PPDM-ADME sector explained how their department deals with investigating exposure of drugs at target site and its engagement. Specifically, ADME specializes in drug optimization and bioanalysis. ADME also utilizes smart trial running to predict dosage use, experimental imaging techniques, and mathematical modelling. Dr. Bernard Choi from PPDM puts an emphasis on analyzing a huge number of samples at low cost and high quality each day through automation which generates a huge volume of data. As a result, Merck is interested in hiring people who will facilitate handling huge amounts of data, a.k.a. people who perform data modelling or machine/deep learning. Representing the SALAR section, Dr. Colena Johnson explained that her department works closely with the regulatory committee for the safety assessment of drug candidates selected in the PPDM-ADME department. In a drug development, SALAR works from the target selection stage, all the way to the post-marketing. Panelist Dr. Joseph Fantuzzo said the AR&D section focuses on small molecules, vaccines, and molecular and material characterization. AR&D characterizes these pharmaceutical developments using analytical techniques including NMR spectroscopy, mass spectrometry, X-ray crystallography, chromatography, imaging, particle analysis, and various immunoassays. When asked about experience requirement for different positions, Mr. Bateman encouraged the fresh PhDs to apply for senior scientist position, while associate principal scientist would need at least five years of experience post PhD in the relevant field.

No matter which STEM background you are from, Merck has something for you. I hope this article gave you some insight about what it is like to be a part of Merck and how their different departments work. I hope you enjoyed reading the article!

This article was edited by Junior Editor, Natalie Losada and Senior Editor, Samantha Avina.

Meet the blogger: Samantha Avina

Hello iJOBS community,

My name is Samantha (Sam) Avina and I am currently a 3rd year PhD candidate in the Rutgers Newark School of Graduate Studies (SGS) Immunology PhD track. But I am also still a young adult trying to figure out my future career track and reach my own personal goals like many other members of our Rutgers student community. 

Being part of the iJOBS program blog has helped me to gain a better understanding of where I can see myself after I complete my PhD and helped me appreciate how far I’ve come. In 2017 I graduated with my Bachelor’s degree in Biochemistry from Hawai’i Pacific University (HPU) where I started my first research project under the direction of Dr. David Horgen. There I worked on developing and optimizing chemical extraction assays to isolate the small organic compounds majusculamide Amalygamide A, and isomalygamide A, from indigenous Hawai’ian algae populations. These small compounds were isolated and submitted to the NIH small molecule repository for drug screening assays to identify potential novel drug target therapies. Under the guidance of Dr. Horgen, I was able to set a foundation for my research experience and find a great mentor who wanted to help me succeed in my pursuit for a research career.

 My time at HPU led me to the next step of my academic career when I was accepted into the Rutgers SGS summer undergraduate research program and ultimately inspired me to apply for the Rutgers PhD program. During that time, I was introduced to biomedical research and realized how much I enjoyed it, motivating me to switch research fields.

In 2018, I was accepted into the Rutgers Infection, Immunity, and Inflammation (I3) track in biomedical research PhD program and joined Dr. Amariliz Rivera’s lab for my doctoral work. Currently, my research focuses on characterizing the role of alveolar macrophages (AMs) in pulmonary fungal infection. Previously, AMs were not thought to play a critical role in pulmonary antifungal infection. However, with the development of new technologies and investigations, research is now demonstrating that parts of the innate immune system, like AMs, respond to different strains of fungal pathogens and is an ongoing active area of research. Moreso, we are investigating the role of the carbonic anhydrase 4 gene, a metalloenzyme, as a regulator of myeloid cell function and differentiation. As a PhD candidate, I’ve had my fair share of run-ins with Imposter Syndrome and anxiety. Most PhD students I talk to are dealing with the same issues. I have found that becoming involved in positive community-oriented programs like the iJOBS program helps me overcome some of these setbacks. 

I enjoy writing and making connections with others. By sharing stories and experiences with others, I find the iJOBS blog to be therapeutic in a sense. Learning and discussing what we can do with our PhDs (other than academia) is an amazing experience that makes what sometimes feels like a lonely experience, an inclusive and supportive one! Most of us who are going through a PhD or post-doc experience are nervous for what comes next. I can happily say that what I have learned through the iJOBS program has made me excited about the future. As a first-generation college graduate and young scientist, I look forward to what comes next in my PhD and personal growth journey! Outside of the lab, I enjoy activities that include hiking, gardening, practicing yoga, being a cat mom, and volunteering at my local cat rescue organization, Here Kitty Kitty.  

Transition and working in industry: a journey of adaptability and role changes

By: Sally Wang

Academia is perhaps well-known for its stability (if you achieve tenure), continuity, and lifelong dedication to one area of expertise. This is evident in how academic success is defined (being “known for something”) and how academic departments are constructed.  However, Dr. Kenneth Maynard shared at a recent seminar co-hosted by Rutgers iJOBS and The Erdos Institute, a successful industry career often hinges on being adaptable to both people and job functions.

Dr. Maynard—currently a Senior Director of Pharmacovigilance (PV) Affiliate Relations and Global Patient Safety and Evaluation at Takeda Pharmaceuticals—transitioned into industry over twenty years ago. From his first job at Aventis Pharmaceuticals (now Sanofi) as a consultant to his current position, he has navigated eight career transitions and counting. Some of these transitions were uncontrollable (e.g., pharma company shutting down research programs) while others were due to mergers (e.g., when Sanofi acquired Aventis). Yet most transitions were driven by seizing opportunities as they came knocking: moving to a different but higher role within the same company. Dr. Maynard’s industry career trajectory sharply contrasts with the rather linear career path in academia, and it makes navigating the career path in industry seem quite convoluted. That is by design because compared to academic pond, industry is the ocean. Within this ocean, individuals who are adaptable and ready to grab onto opportunities are rewarded. According to Dr. Maynard, the opportunities are there and are plentiful. Perhaps we are wrong to dichotomize the PhD career debate into academia versus industry in the first place, because academia is one career path and industry represents a sea of career paths for PhDs.

For Dr. Maynard, his career progression involves recurrent role changes (e.g., principal scientist/project director/portfolio strategist) that carry different job responsibilities and skill requirements. But all of these positions ask for the same essential skills: adaptability and managing a cross-functional team effectively and professionally. In fact, collaborating with and managing people are important skills in any field including academia, but they are often not emphasized enough. As PhDs, we are trained to learn technical skills—be it a new technique or decoding a new regulatory document—but people skills are oftentimes left on the backburner. Why should they be that important when you’re surrounding by like-minded, similarly-trained people in academia? Good luck finding that in industry meeting rooms. So for those aspiring industry scientist and leaders, it is critical that you can work with and lead people of all backgrounds and expertise if you want to be successful.

One important tip from Dr. Maynard is to be strategic and intentional about your career.

In addition to developing and honing people skills, what else should PhDs consider when transitioning into industry? One important tip from Dr. Maynard is to be strategic and intentional about your career. Timing is very important in any transition, be it from academia to industry or within industry, or perhaps even industry back to academia (yes, that is a career path). One of the ageless questions related to timing is “should I do a post-doc?” Well, it depends on individual career goals and plans. If a post-doc can expose you to a new subfield with techniques and tools (e.g., machine learning or deep learning) that will woo industry hiring managers, then perhaps pursuing a short post-doc is on the table. Even the opportunity to write a grant (which seems to be a skillset endemic to academia) can show prospective industry employers that you have vital skills such as strategic thinking, effective communication with stakeholders and budget-planning insights. But on the other hand, if you’re contemplating career trajectories that emphasize on-the-job experiences (e.g., medical writer or user experience researcher), then a PhD has probably more than prepared you to transition right out of graduate school.

The takeaway is: any career transition requires some level of introspection and knowing what and when works best for you. Be prepared to adapt and be flexible throughout this journey. The key is to make career transitions work for you rather than you working for them. Insights from folks who have done it before you are valuable, but it is ultimately your own journey that is set by your personality, skillsets, interests, motivations and the impacts you want to have. Just as knowledge without implementation is useless, career transition without adaptability is impractical.

This article was edited by Senior Editors Helena Mello and Samantha Avina.

Drug Hunting and Expanding Your Breadth with Dr. Karen Akinsanya

By Rebecca Manubag

On April 5, 2021, Rutgers iJOBS and the The Erdos Institute hosted an informative seminar with featured guest, Dr. Karen Akinsanya, who discussed her work in industry. Dr. Akinsanya spoke about her journey from her graduate studies to multiple positions that expanded her “breadth and depth” (as she put it) during her transition to translational science in industry. She also touched on the importance of collaboration in the field of drug discovery and gave some career tips for young scientists interested in this field.

Dr. Karen Akinsanya hails from the U.K., where she completed her doctoral and post-doctoral work, the latter exposing her to the pharmaceutical industry at the Ludwig Institute for Cancer Research. She joined Ferring Pharmaceuticals following her postdoc, and discussed her experience collecting clinical samples to use in the lab. This highlights a very literal example of “bench to bedside,” a term often synonymous with translational science. Over the next few years, Dr. Akinsanya continued her work at Ferring as a Senior Scientist working closely with the clinic, and even suggested the incorporation of human genetics experiments to the head of R&D at Ferring (likely influenced by the success of the Human Genome Project). An overarching question in her career seemed to be What tools are needed within drug discovery to better impact the clinic? With this in mind, Dr. Akinsanya made a 180-pivot into the world of clinical pharmacology, which eventually led her to join Merck for over a decade. She moved across many divisions during her time there, starting in the clinical department and eventually making her way to business development and licensing, proving that silo barriers can be broken with a PhD.

But what is it exactly that allowed Dr. Akinsanya to move across all of these areas so confidently? Aside from her innate determination, she was driven simply by the question of what makes a good molecule? Time and time again, she and many other researchers in her field have seen the identification of compounds that look promising in preclinical studies only to fail in the clinic.

To that end, Dr. Akinsanya next elaborated on a few reasons why drugs fail. The top reasons mentioned were molecular target validation and relevance to human disease. Even after decades of medical and laboratory innovations, one must humbly acknowledge that we still don’t know everything about the human body. This may lead to money being spent on a potential drug lead that may not even be relevant to begin with. Additionally, the current drug discovery pipeline involves roughly 5,000-10,000 compounds and up to two decades to develop a single drug from scratch. With these obstacles looming in the background, collaboration has emerged as a cornerstone of the field of drug discovery and development. An example of this is when a group is characterizing a new “hit” compound in the lab, only to find that another lab across the globe had the same idea! It’s these instances where collaboration can lead to a breakthrough, which Dr. Akinsanya speaks about in her experience working with DPPIV-related proteins.

So, what makes a drug successful? The “5R Framework” from AstraZeneca was referenced to outline the general requirements for a successful drug. A drug has to have: 1. the Right target, 2. the Right tissue, 3. the Right safety, 4. the Right patient, and 5. the Right commercial potential. Unfortunately, the majority of drugs do not fulfill all of these criteria and finding a balance has proven to be quite the feat. This further emphasizes the importance of collaboration in pharma and drug discovery, since it involves risk, value, and investment. You need early clinical trials, money for funding, and maybe most importantly, partnering to incorporate ideas from many groups. 

The “5R” Framework, AstraZeneca

Image reference: Morgan, P., Brown, D., Lennard, S. et al. Impact of a five-dimensional framework on R&D productivity at AstraZeneca. Nat Rev Drug Discov 17, 167–181 (2018). https://doi.org/10.1038/nrd.2017.244

Dr. Akinsanya next expounded on her current work in drug discovery and translational science. For Dr. Akinsanya, her career in drug discovery has profoundly involved genomics and more recently, computational techniques. Her current work at Schrödinger focuses on the use of a computation-based approach to accelerate drug discovery. She emphasized the use of physics-based computational assays that help to model the free energy of protein binding, which can help speed up identification of useful compounds.

The use of computation and “-Omics” mapping may also be the tool needed to improve medical research. Between 2018 and 2020, the biotech industry has exceeded the number of FDA approvals for big pharma, with this generated data playing a huge part. We’ve had the first siRNA drug approved, advances in gene therapy, and the Covid-19 vaccine developed in less than a year (thanks to collaboration). Computational models can also produce real-time data from the patient population, a method that can help scale up disease-relevant information.  Concluding her talk, Dr. Akinsanya also mentioned what she believed to be a promising new field of -omics in drug identification and compound screening. She referred to this as the “Pocketome,” which focuses on atomic level structures.

Dr. Akisanya’s story comes with many takeaways and she offered multiple tips for early career scientists looking to switch to industry or pharma. The first is to be proactive more than reactive. If you believe in something, make it known to your higher-ups! The second is to take calculated risks and consider the input of those with the experience you wish to seek. She also stressed the importance of finding supportive mentors in every career phase. The third tip is to identify scientific problems, but also to propose thoughtful solutions. The fourth tip is to avoid the silo effect (which can be demonstrated through her own career changes), meaning balance the breadth and depth in your career to become more interdisciplinary. Specifically, for drug discovery, this proves to be vital for the means of collaboration. Finally, she stressed the ability to respond to change in a field that is everchanging. As for making the jump from academia to industry, it may be helpful to start by seeking out smaller biotech companies to experience an industry environment.

Overall, Dr. Akinsanya managed to address multiple topics that apply to understanding her field, as well as to navigating challenges in a scientific career, in general. She used personal experiences to stress the importance of mentorship (noting multiple mentors she gained throughout her career), thinking outside the box (and making your thoughts known, like she did at Ferring), as well as keeping the common goal at the forefront of scientific decisions (in the case of drug discovery, how can more drugs be developed?). These are all takeaways that can apply to all stages of a scientific career.

This article was edited by Junior Editor, Zachary Fritz and Senior Editor, Brianna Alexander.

The Cover Letter: An Opportunity to Show Authenticity

By Helena Mello

If you are an avid iJOBS blog reader and aspiring job applicant, you have certainly needed to write a cover letter. While not always essential, many job openings recommend that you write one. A cover letter may be overlooked by some, but it is a great opportunity to sell yourself beyond the resume.

You can find articles with great advice about cover letters across the internet. One article from Science Mag details 10 recommendations to make a “decent presentation” with the “employee’s needs (…) in mind,” while another from the same magazine describes important steps to writing a “winning cover letter.” These – and others – focus on the ultimate goal of any cover letter: show that you are the perfect match for the position. These articles bring valuable information to the reader; however, I want to focus on one point that they have missed: a cover letter must be authentic.

Everyone should (and hopefully does) strive to write a flawless document without typos or grammar mistakes. And certainly, some applicants will share a few factors that will be mentioned in their cover letters.  However, regardless of similarities, I don’t think there is a guide to writing an authentic cover letter. If all letters read the same, how will the recruiter distinguish between candidates?

“(…) a cover letter must be authentic.”

The cover letter must talk about you: your accomplishments, your ambitions, your skills. It is your opportunity to expand on your resume’s bullet points and key words. In this sense, a cover letter must show originality. How can you accomplish that?  On this note, I want to share two main aspects that have made me better at writing cover letters:

  • Don’t be afraid of using “I”

Many applicants avoid writing sentences that emphasize the subject (themselves). They tend to focus on the action and “hide” the subject behind a huge accomplishment. This is common in academic settings where we are used to focusing on the outcome rather than the pathway. Consider reviewing your sentences and emphasizing your contributions. For example, instead of “the project I was part of got an award,” you could write “I got an award for my work on this project.” Remember: the recruiter is interested in your journey and not in your data.

  • Be specific

An authentic letter will imprint your personality and make you relatable to the reader. Your goal is to have the reader learn who you are through your writing. So, you should avoid clichés and vague statements. For example, writing that you are “greatly interested in this position” is obvious and, honestly, a bit boring. Consider rewriting as “I am interested in this position because of my background in X that matches the company’s vision for Y market.” Be specific and clear about your skills and how they match the needs of the position. Demonstrate how your background has shaped your interest and culminated in your application to the position. Focus on unique experiences and the skills you have acquired because of them.

In conclusion, the cover letter should sell your abilities to the recruiter. You have to show that you are worth their time and effort, without sounding arrogant. By emphasizing your contributions to your projects and writing an original, credible letter, you will likely catch their interest and land an interview.

Good luck with your applications and happy writing!

This article was edited by Junior Editor Natalie Losada, and Senior Editor Brianna Alexander.

Alternative STEM Career Paths: Project Management in the Life Sciences

By Shawn Rumrill

The beauty of earning a PhD in STEM, particularly in life science divisions, is the versatility in career paths post-graduation. One unique, and perhaps lesser known career path is project management. While many STEM graduates find their passion in developing new technologies at the bench, communicating science, or working on the business side of science, few consider filling the gap that coordinates these responsibilities as a well-oiled machine. On March 10th, Rutgers iJOBS in partnership with the Project Management Institute (PMI) of New Jersey, hosted a workshop called “Project Management for the Life Science Professional” to introduce PhD students to this little-known field.

This workshop was facilitated by three life science project management professionals. The session was moderated by Diane Cianciminio-Bordelon Cianciminio-Bordelon, MS, PMP, a PMI representative and supervisor for the Department of Laboratory Medicine at Memorial Sloan Kettering. Joining her was David Vincente, PMP, a Senior Director of Project Management at BD and Claudia Campbell-Matland, MS, PMP, an Independent Consultant and owner of CNCM Consulting LLC. Mr. Vincente and Ms. Campbell-Matland aided in discussion during the workshop and later facilitated discussions in breakout groups. 

First and foremost, what is a project and what is project management? Ms. Cianciminio-Bordelon defined projects as temporary endeavors that culminate in unique products, services, or results.  Project management involves providing organizations with the know-how, skills, tools, and techniques required to execute projects within constraints of time, scope, and budget. Moreover, someone overseeing these responsibilities is usually a certified project management professional (PMP).  

Next, Ms. Cianciminio-Bordelon painted a picture of what project management looks like. Briefly, project management can be divided into 4 phases: initiate, plan, execute/monitor, and close. During initiation, a project manager synthesizes ideas to define the scope and goals of a particular project. Next, s/he will identify desired outcomes, benefits, and metrics of success. With these details in mind, sponsors and stakeholders (anyone with an interest in a business including investors and employees) can be identified to support a project. In the planning stage, project managers work with business and finance experts to determine budgets, timelines, and project constraints. In a more senior position, project managers can then construct roles and responsibilities for the various teams that will be required to accomplish the project goals. Next comes the actual execution and monitoring of a project. Once a project is implemented, project managers play an important role in managing teams, tracking progress and evaluating success metrics, while changing course as necessary to overcome obstacles and meet original constraints. Finally, project managers conduct closing reviews and summarize the deliverables of the project, accomplished outcomes, and document any lessons learned along the way. You might be wondering why a dedicated project manager is really needed. Aren’t there other ways these goals can be achieved? In short, project managers can help to provide structure, save time and money, and provide clear outcomes and objectives that meet stakeholder expectations. 

To demonstrate the importance of project management in the life sciences, Ms. Cianciminio-Bordelon briefly discussed the 10 most influential biotech projects in 2020. Notably, the mRNA COVID-19 vaccines, the London patient who was cured of HIV, and quantum stealth invisibility technology topped the list. This prompted a question from one of the seminar participants: “do you need to have skills in a specific area of knowledge to be a project manager?” The overwhelming consensus was “no!” Ms. Cianciminio-Bordelon explained that, with few exceptions, a general scientific background and general scientific skills are sufficient for a career in project management. Ms. Campbell-Matland made an excellent assertion: as PhD students, we not only become well versed in specific subject matter, but more importantly we become broadly trained in research, communication, problem solving, and other skills that translate to many different types of jobs, project management included. With this, graduates can be assured that even with little experience in a certain area, they are not precluded from pursuing a career in project management

So, what kind of project management careers are available in the life sciences? It turns out that not very many of them even have “project manager” in the title! Commonly, PhD graduates can expect to work first as entry level project analysts whose technical skills are leveraged for specific tasks. Next up the totem pole is an actual project manager who is responsible for leading a team and is accountable to stakeholders. Groups of project managers are then overseen by project leaders, who are responsible for portfolios of projects and securing tools and resources for project managers to effectively do their jobs. Executive level positions also feature project management responsibilities, typically procuring project funding and providing larger perspective and context. One thing Ms. Cianciminio-Bordelon asked participants to keep in mind is that these are not fixed positions, but rather they vary by company. Often times, each role has some amount of crossover tasks and responsibilities that makes each position in a project management capacity very collaborative and versatile. 

Revisiting the same ideas as above, the panelists next discussed skills and knowledge important to the project management profession. First, project managers in any capacity need to be people-oriented and understand the needs of customers (stakeholders). Additionally, they should have a knack for communicating technical information to lay persons and use those skills to bridge functions across different departments and teams. Fundamentally, project managers should have a basic understanding of business processes including budgets, reports, and metrics. In this regard, taking a business course or two as a graduate student might be beneficial. Something I personally found encouraging during this seminar is that most PhD students have done many of these things! Even as students, we understand the importance of explaining our science on a basic level, communicating with collaborators and working as a larger team, getting things done and having strong problem-solving skills, as well as an appreciation for the cost, scope, and timelines of our respective projects. This brings back a recurring theme across many iJOBS events, which is that graduates looking for any job need to know how to market themselves and pitch their personal experience in a way that makes them valuable to employers and hiring managers.

graduates looking for any job need to know how to market themselves and pitch their personal experience in a way that makes them valuable to employers and hiring managers.

 As the workshop progressed, organizers went on to discuss how new graduates might land a project management position in the life sciences. So what is it hiring managers are looking for? Importantly, project managers should have leadership qualities, this includes being able to influence and motivate your own team, as well as those who don’t report to you. A good leader should have the ability to empower others to take on their responsibilities and work hard to achieve their goals. Hiring managers also look for attention to detail, collaboration, and great communication skills. Again, keep in mind that these skills are often developed throughout the course of earning a PhD. Ms. Cianciminio-Bordelon suggested that anyone interested in a project management career get some formal project management education or experiences through courses or jobs. She also cautioned against being shy about leveraging grad school experiences to make you stand out as a candidate. 

After a short break, attendees were divided into breakout rooms with different project management professionals to pitch themselves as candidates for a project manager position. My group was led Mr. Vincente. Despite considering myself an introvert, I volunteered first to deliver my elevator pitch. Though perhaps longer than your average elevator ride, I felt good about my performance. Some key aspects of my experience that I invoked were my past jobs as a retail manager, as well as discussing my communication skills, mentorship, team leadership, and technical skills. Fortunately for my self-esteem, Mr. Vincente applauded my elevator pitch. However, a criticism that I found most helpful was the concept of connecting one’s skills to their worth and actual outcomes. I personally find this difficult to do in the brevity of an elevator pitch but agree, nonetheless, that demonstrable outcomes convey stronger messages than unsubstantiated buzzwords or bombastic language. Mr. Vincente left the group with one last parting thought for their elevator pitches: what’s your 1 sentence people will remember about you? For Mr. Vincente, I remember his introduction at the beginning of the seminar as a poet and accordionist. Conversely, he remembered me for my previous life as a retail manager. These seemingly trivial facts actually provide a unique fingerprint of sorts and help build lasting impressions and connections with prospective employers to whom you might deliver your elevator pitch. 

With the conclusion of the breakout sessions, the project management workshop came to a close. I found the overall workshop quite enjoyable, and despite the unassuming title, project managers are quite energetic, engaging, knowledgeable, and fun-to-work-with individuals! This niche career may be just the perfect fit for many PhD graduates. I know after attending this workshop that I can see myself exploring project management jobs post-graduation. Ms. Cianciminio-Bordelon suggested for anyone interested in this field that they keep in mind the skills they need to be successful and build those up now, taking additional courses or working toward certifications as necessary. Moreover, she suggested analyzing job advertisements and resumes of those in the project management profession  to learn more about the career path and how to start one’s journey.. Ultimately, the skills one learns during a PhD translate well to a career in project management. Moreover, this career path may well suit those who want to mix their technical and communication skills with a knack for interdisciplinary teamwork and managing deliverables to fulfill the critical role of a project manager.

This article was edited by Junior Editor Gina Sanchez and Senior Editor Brianna Alexander

Meet the Blogger – Natalie Losada

Over the pandemic I have realized something – I’m a people person.  Since middle school I knew that I excelled in group settings, but the reason why wasn’t clear until now.  Group settings allow dynamic thinking at a faster rate than when alone. More than that, I find group settings fun, exhilarating, and uplifting.  After lockdowns and quarantines, most people have learned to appreciate at least some level of regular social interactions.  I had never assumed being alone was superior; however, I had never realized the immense benefit interacting with people can provide.  Without others, we’re left to swim around, get lost, or drown in our own thoughts.  Which is why writing about oneself usually starts like this:

“I’m gonna be a people person in a room of people people…”

– Let the Games Begin by AJR

Sitting down staring at a blank Microsoft Word document, I struggle to begin this supposedly easy article.  Its purpose is to get the iJOBS readers to know me better, but this article isn’t an elevator pitch that will succinctly mention a few goals I have in life.  This is about who I am. Which brings me back to the fact I am staring at a now slightly populated Microsoft Word document wondering…who am I?

I am dynamic; people are dynamic.  The static introductions we give at parties can be boring.  The perfect pictures we paint at interviews can be unrealistic.  We learn the most about a person through experiences and stories, but no single story could tell you about me in totality.  I love memorizing song lyrics and dancing while food shopping and debating simple things like whether pencils are better than pens.  Most of all, I love to analyze life and think about how amazing humanity is on a sociological and biological level.  Arguing about sports teams is great, but have you ever wondered why we put so much time and emotion into following sports?  Discussions about why humans do what they do can lead you to places you never dreamed of, which is why I love group settings and working with people.

During the multitude of wonderfully informative iJOBS career panels I have attended, I’ve seen which jobs are a good fit for a “people person” like myself.  Careers in Science Communication have interested me greatly because they involve as much writing as working with a team.  Medical writers need to consult physicians, chemists, clinicians, and more when following the progress of a drug’s clinical trials.  Consultants need to interact with individuals or groups daily and are constantly learning, which is something I enjoy as a scientist.  Project management also interests me because of the team environment and the problem solving and planning that the career entails.  Some might be turned off by the changing lifestyles of careers such as these, but I know anything less would be boring to me.  Having a dynamic job in a dynamic field like science is something I’ll enjoy for the rest of my life.

I graduated with a degree in chemistry because I couldn’t let go of the fascinating world of biology nor the fun, logical, math-filled world of physics.  Chemistry not only combines physics and biology, but truly explains how life exists, and that never ceases to amaze to me.  Now, I am a third-year biophysical chemistry PhD student who is even more thankful that I found my academic passion early.  In my lab, I study the structure and function of HIV-1 enzymatic proteins that make the virus seem truly alive.  Even though it was clear to me that I loved to apply my chemistry knowledge in biological systems, I never thought I’d love studying viruses so much.  And understanding viruses in such detail, particularly in this pandemic, makes me less fearful because I understand what I’m up against.

I studied art from middle school through college and completed a minor in visual art during my undergrad years.  So, it probably goes without saying that one of my favorite parts of writing and presenting my scientific work is making the figures!  Art can be a way to express a concept or a feeling that words just can’t capture.  Visuals in a journal article, when designed properly, can say “what,” “why,” and “how” while still looking aesthetically pleasing.  And writing, like art should be, is therapeutic to me. Sometimes ideas or feelings don’t make sense until they’re written down, and writing those ideas in a cohesive and memorable article is truly an art.  The iJOBS blog has given me a space to indulge in my craft, meet new friends, and discover new careers and scientists. I couldn’t ask for a better environment for a dynamic human like myself.

In addition to all of that, I am a gymnast, gymnastics instructor, aspiring yoga teacher, and travel-lover.  And after finding the iJOBS blog a year ago, I am a writer. 

My name is Natalie Losada and I am dynamic.

This article was edited by Senior Editor, Helena Mello, and Senior Editor, Brianna Alexander.