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2016-2017 Executive Committee Members

Meet the six members of the 2016-2017 Alumni Network Executive Committee (ANEC). These individuals are dedicated to helping strengthen the connection of program alumni to the Center for Biotechnology’s Fundamentals of the Bioscience Industry Program.

Scott Callahan
Yamuna Gangadharan, PhD
Chendi Gu
Yang Liu
Denise R. Minton, PhD
Kurt Vrancken

Below is each new member’s statement of interest. In their own words, they express their vision for the alumni network during their tenure.

Scott Callahan

I am a fourth year graduate student at Memorial Sloan Kettering and a recent graduate of the Manhattan FOBIP 2016 class. I am very interested in getting involved in ANEC and helping to organize events to continue bringing our great community together. I thoroughly enjoyed the class and I feel one of the biggest strengths of the class was the diversity of experiences and expertise offered by my classmates and the terrific network of recent graduates that have remained involved with the class. I hope to continue these great discussions and many more now that my time in the class has come to a close through informal happy hours and networking events.

Yamuna Gangadharan, PhD

FOBIP was a breath of fresh air for me in many ways. When I moved from Germany to US after my PhD, I had to start from scratch. I had very little exposure to the industrial biotech space and everything outside of the lab was a black box for me. One thing I was sure of was that I didn’t want to continue in academia. At the same time, I didn’t have a network to build on and that made the transition to a non-academic job all the more difficult.

I volunteered in a biotech start up where I had to kick start the entire lab operations. My perseverance and enthusiasm helped me convert that into a full time research position. Beyond managing the day-to-day responsibilities, I also helped collaborate with Albert Einstein College of Medicine and that resulted in a couple of publications. After taking a break for couple of years to start my family, I learned about FOBIP and it felt like a great opportunity to get back in and explore the other facets of the Biotech-Pharma industry.

Beyond the exposure to various interesting domains, I was very much impressed with the connections that you get to make – with other students, alumni, faculty and the visiting guest speakers from the industry. There was a personal touch to it that went beyond a certificate program. Everyone was approachable, openly shared their career paths and genuinely wanted to help us find our way. This motivated me to join ANEC to lend a hand to future students like me who are looking for career guidance. As an ANEC member, I would focus not only on promoting this program but also on helping the participants make the right career choice and connect them with the right people. I will be actively involved in organizing events where students can learn from the industry insiders and the alumni and build meaningful relationships with them. Ultimately, I believe it is these relationships that are the most important in the long run.

Chendi Gu

As a 4th year Chemistry Ph.D. candidate, I joined the Fundamentals of the Bioscience Industry Program (FOBIP) to gain a comprehensive understanding on the drug discovery pipeline. I realize I have achieved much more than that up finishing the course. Not only have I learnt about the big picture of the life science industry, but I’ve also expanded my perspective what careers are available in industry. As I am about to complete the course, it would be my great pleasure to assist the recruitment of FOBIP as a member of the Alumni Network Executive Committee (ANEC).

During my research project, my collaboration experience with AstraZeneca and the Broad Institute helped me to develop the skills of communicating with people from various backgrounds. My role as the lab coordinator at Dr. Peter Tonge’s group equipped me with an outstanding organizational skill. My volunteer experience at the Speed Network Event provided me with an insight on the responsibilities as an ANEC member. With my skillsets as well as my passion for life science industry, I believe I am qualified as a candidate to serve the Alumni Network Executive Committee. I am eager to incorporate my capabilities to help maintain and expand the alumni community in order to explore more connections between current members and the industry and to make the ANEC more successful.

Yang Liu

I learned about FOBIP in my third year, and had kept hearing amazing feedback on this program. When I attended the classes, I knew that this course is what I must recommend to my student fellows. Ranging from technology development to entrepreneurship, the lectures covered almost every single aspect of biotechnology business, which is far beyond what we got trained in our graduate program. In addition, while working on the final project throughout the semester, we built up a comprehensive skill set of doing industry research and analysis as well as soft skills.

As an active person in student activities, I myself would like to participate in social activities such as networking events, webinars, etc. Passionate about serving on board of ANEC and putting efforts on the maintenance and development of the alumni network, I will apply my talent in the future ANEC networking activities as well as promoting the course to a broader spectrum of graduate students who might be interested in pursuing a career in bioscience industry.

Denise R. Minton, PhD

Within a year of starting my postdoctoral fellowship at NYU Langone Medical Center I realized that I want to make a transition from the bench to the life science industry. The Fundamentals of Bioscience Industry course that I recently finished has been instrumental in exposing me to various non-academic career opportunities that I was never exposed to during my Ph.D. or postdoc. More importantly, this course has given me the confidence and knowledge to make a career change.

Seeing as the FOBIP has had such a profound impact on me, I would like to be a part of ANEC to promote the course to future students in an effort to help others learn about non-academic careers. Too many students and postdocs in science are not given enough information about jobs outside of bench work. Additionally, I want to help setup networking and career development opportunities for FOBIP alumni.

Kurt Vrancken

First let me say I’ll be proud to join your ranks soon. The Fundamentals Program has opened my eyes to a space to share the excitement we feel about Science and Discovery, and where it can actually effect real-world change!

I’ve enjoyed the ANEC mixers and would like to continue such events where FOBIP students get to learn from people who have recently been in their shoes. PS: I love how open alumni are to a conversation with those of us just starting out.

The Saturday session about how to maneuver the career ladder was really great. However what I think most students are looking for is advice on how to get on the first rung of that ladder!! It’s THE overriding concern that I’ve heard and myself share with the current students. While it’s true that everybody’s journey is different, I’m sure there are many generalities that can be presented and shared. This could go anywhere from a workshop on how to present yourself businesslike, how to find out about internships (not at your school), how to be entry-level after 5 years in the lab, how to conduct a phone interview, and an in-person interview, what kind of web-presence is appropriate or how should my business card look when I’m not currently employed.

I also think a resumé building workshop or having an (informal) resumé review service would fill a great need. Many students at SBU Manhattan are re-entering the work force after a hiatus for various reasons and don’t have access to their former school’s resources on this account. Learning about the intersection of science and business also made me want to know more about the intersection of science and politics (a personal interest). An event with people how’ve made this transition and what is possible would be a great addition to the focus on business. Joining ANEC would also mean I get to continue to engage with people who feel strongly about both understanding science and having that knowledge impact our daily lives.

 

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