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WIB-Capital Region Member Spotlight: Akunna Iheanacho, Ph.D.

Posted By Jhimli Roy, Monday, September 16, 2019

Spotlight Interview – Akunna Iheanacho, Ph.D.



1. Tell us about your background (both educational and professional).

I am the Director of Research and Development at Texcell – North America, Inc. where I support novel assay development and virus purification efforts. I serve as a subject matter expert with extensive experience in the purification, recovery, and formulation of proteins and biologics. Prior to joining Texcell, I was a Senior Scientist at Paragon Bioservices, Inc. (now Paragon Gene Therapy). While there, I made significant contributions in transitioning projects from basic science discovery to cGMP-ready processes by establishing critical process parameters and quality attributes for vaccines, AAV gene therapies, and reagents for diagnostics. During my graduate studies, I employed biochemical and biophysical techniques in my structural and functional characterization of proteins dysregulated in cancer and type II diabetes. I received my Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Physiology from Johns Hopkins University School of Medicine, M.S. in Chemistry from the University of Virginia, and B.S. in Biology from Oakwood University in Huntsville, AL.

2. What are your top three tips for women who are just starting their careers?

Here are my top three tips for women starting their careers:

I. Success in professional relationships lies in your ability to effectively communicate with others. It is important to advocate for yourself and for this, effective communication is critical. To be successful in pitching yourself, you need to know your audience, their needs, and also consider what they value. It’s not just the words that you use but your nonverbal cues are equally important —the gestures you make, your posture, your tone of voice, how many eyes contact you make—these all send strong messages. I should probably also mention the importance of effectively communicating when you are networking. With an exchange, really think about the key message you are trying to convey.

II. Practice fostering resilience. In order to conquer challenges at work, you must possess determination, perseverance, and grit. View challenges as opportunities for growth.

III. Avoid perfectionistic thinking and accept feedback. Because the fear of failure can have an immobilizing effect, one way in which you can avoid perfectionist thinking is by focusing on the process rather than the end result. Strive for continuous improvement rather than perfection. When others give you feedback, listen objectively and take time to process the information.

3. Tell us how you got involved with Women in Bio, what you do for the organization, and what being a part of WIB means to you.

I attended a WIB-Capital Region chapter roundtable discussion on how women can become more effective leaders. This event was truly inspiring. I was excited about the opportunities this organization offered and became a WIB member that same afternoon. Later that year, I began participating in MAPS. I am passionate about encouraging young women to explore opportunities, education, and careers in STEM and while at Hopkins I was actively involved in mentoring programs that encouraged STEM outreach and targeted young people. I missed being able to give back in this way and once I learned about Young Women in Bio (YWIB), I decided to volunteer. I currently serve as Co-Chair for Capital Region Chapter of YWIB).

4. What is the most exciting and personally fulfilling part of your work right now?

The most fulfilling and exciting part of my work is that every single day I have an opportunity to make scientific contributions that have the potential to improve someone’s quality of life. On any given day, I’m able to facilitate the translation of breakthrough discoveries into safe and effective products.

5. How did you find the career path that you are on right now?

While in graduate school, I evaluated protein-protein interactions with the end goal of utilizing structure-based drug design to assist in the development of more targeted therapies. Although I really enjoyed basic science research, I was more passionate about seeing those scientific breakthroughs or discoveries translate into actual commercial products (e.g. drugs, vaccines, biologics, or other pharmaceutical products) that had the potential to impact public health. I pursued a career in industry because I believed my skills and knowledge base would assist me in conducting research that bridged the gap between scientific discovery and the delivery of new technologies or biotherapeutics to market. While at Paragon, I was able to develop new technologies and medical products that improved patient outcomes – this is how I started my career path in translating basic science to therapies and diagnostic tools. As I have transitioned into my role at Texcell, this position been a great fit for me because I’m part of a global organization that supports therapeutic innovation and enhances product safety.

Tags:  2019  Member Spotlight 

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WIB-Capital Region: Second Annual Summer Picnic, August 11, 2019

Posted By Gelareh Abulwerdi , Tuesday, August 13, 2019

Long-time and new members of Women In Bio, along with family and friends, gathered at a picnic area at Rock Creek Park on Sunday, August 11th for the 2nd Annual Summer Picnic. Programs Chair, Jenny Lindvall, organized great food (and weather!) for the get-together. The casual event didn't have a formal program. Remarks were given by Susan Bahri of Capital Region sponsor NIH Federal Credit Union (NIHFCU). She explained her transition from commercial banking to non-profit banking and the ability of NIHFCU to offer personalized assistance for things like starting or growing a business.Thanks to Susan and her colleague Peggi McCarty for coming out and for several raffle prizes. WIB National Executive Director, Lisa Iadicicco, spoke next and closed the informal program. Lisa just celebrated her first year as Executive Director, and she became familiar with Women In Bio because of its great work in her city, Pittsburgh, PA. As Lisa has gotten to know WIB even better, she talked about two things that set it WIB apart for her: 1. WIB's ability to support women at all stages of their career (from 12 to 112!) and 2. the extensive involvement of volunteers to deliver on the mission at the chapter level. Lisa also previewed upcoming activities, such as focused efforts for entrepreneurs and executives. A great time was had by all at what is quickly becoming a WIB-Capital Region tradition.

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Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Capital Region: Building Your Start-Up Team, July 30, 2019

Posted By Gelareh Abulwerdi , Wednesday, August 7, 2019

WIB-Capital Region held its July event at TEDCO on Building Your Startup Team: Choosing the Right Mix of In-House and Vendors/Contractors. The event started with networking, yummy food and drinks followed by a note from Lindsay Ryan, Chair of WIB-Capital Region, as well as introduction of the speaker panel and the moderator by Jenny Lindvall, WIB-Capital Region Programming Co-Chair. Dr. Ethel Rubin, head of ventures team at BioHealth Innovation, was the moderator, and the three speakers included: Dr. Emily English, CEO of Gemstone Biotherapeutics, Anne Balduzzi, Founder of SameGrain and Director of Advisory Services at TEDCO, and Dr. Maria Granovsky, Founder of Swimming Otter Communications.

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This interactive discussion started off with an important component of starting a business: hiring a good lawyer. A good lawyer can be found through asking other startups for suggestions and starting with a small task to test the integrity of the law firm before giving big assignments. A good lawyer will know how to compose legal documents and will tell you what steps are involved in developing non-disclosure agreements, non-competes, and intellectual property filing documents and agreements. You should always negotiate prices and ask service providers for estimates.

 
A second point of discussion were investor viewpoints on startup team composition. It is important to recruit “A players”, who bring specific domain expertise in areas that are critical to the company’s success. Other functions that are not essential to the company at that stage of development can be outsourced. Additionally, investors want to know that startups have developed employment protection agreements and confidential disclosure agreements (CDA).

 
Another point of discussion was how to retain talent. Salaries offered at startups are usually below the market rate; be up front with job applicants. Stock options and other ownership incentives can be set up to vest so that key people are incentivized to stay and significant portions of the company aren’t owned by people who are no longer at the company. Aside from various compensation strategies, the panel emphasized the importance of creating good company culture and a meaningful work environment in order to attract and retain a great team.

 
Finally, resources for helping you launch startups were discussed; several specific resources below were mentioned:
1. I-CORPS program: http://www.dcicorps.org/
2. TEDCO’s educational resource page: https://www.tedcomd.com/onlineresources
3. SBIR/STTR funding: https://www.sbir.gov/
4. Howard County Economic Development Authority (HCEDA) Innovation & Startups Resource Page: http://www.hceda.org/innovation-startups/

 
With regards to mentoring, keep in mind that many mentors will have differing opinions; ultimately the entrepreneur makes the decision. Be careful to not be over-mentored; balance accessing entrepreneurial resources with the need to actually run the company. For example, delivering a minimum viable product (MVP) and interacting with customers about the MVP can help attract investors for future product development and funding for other key hires. 

 
This event was well attended with approximately 20 attendees, and the discussions were engaging, with a lot of questions and participation from the audience. We thank TEDCO, a key Capital Region chapter sponsor, for also serving as a venue sponsor for this event.

Tags:  2019 

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WIB:Capital Region - Non-Dilutive SBIR/STTR Funding for Startups: A Tale of Two Agencies, January 31, 2019

Posted By Breezy Lachance, Wednesday, July 31, 2019

On January 31, 2019, Women in Bio National Capital Region was glad to host a conversation regarding SBIR funding with Colleen Gibney, SBIR Deputy Project Manager at the U.S. Army Medical Research and Materiel Command (USAMRMC) and Lili M. Portilla, MPA, Director of the Office of Strategic Alliances at NCATS (NIH). Judy Costello, Managing Director of Economic Development at BioHealth Innovation, Inc. (BHI) wonderfully moderated the conversation (with Lili participating remotely!). The discussion was focused on "America's Seed Fund", the Small Business Innovation Research / Small Business Technology Transfer (SBIR/STTR) programs, which represent $2.5B annually in competitive grant and contract awards that go directly to small businesses from various federal agencies. SPACES at Chase Tower in Chevy Chase generously enabled the attendees to meet in their beautiful coworking space.

The SBIR/STTR programs are managed differently across Federal agencies, but eligibility requirements are always consistent as the SBA provides this guidance. Our speakers painted broad strokes across their own agencies and shared information about their specific programs:

Funding Vehicle: The type of funding vehicle matters. NIH primarily uses the grants mechanism which allows proposers to set project goals, but they also utilize contracts. DOD SBIR/STTR uses only contracts, which specify the deliverables. Outside of the SBIR/STTR Programs, USAMRMC issues solicitations from the Congressionally Driven Medical Research Programs (CDMRP), which are awarded as Assistance Agreements, rather than as Contracts.
 
Submission: Both agencies have multiple submission deadlines throughout the year. The agencies will specify (broadly or specifically) what they are seeking, some opportunities are offered only once, others are perennial. An STTR proposal must include a research institution partner, but an SBIR can have one too. When applying to any SBIR/STTR program, registration in multiple systems is required starting with SAM and SBIR.gov company registration. Don't leave this until the last minute, as some of these registrations can take weeks to months!  Companies are welcome to apply for numerous opportunities and can simultaneously receive funds from two different agencies -- just not for the same work. 

Review: NIH's SBIR peer review process is similar to typical NIH grants. External expert reviewers weigh in and score the proposals, then the NIH Institute/Center with the approval of their advisory councils will determine which proposals will be funded. DoD uses mostly agency and government reviewers. The agencies publicly post success rates; however, these are typically for an entire agency, and the competitiveness can vary greatly within the agency and even across the topics of one program. Some opportunities allow for resubmission, and others don't; almost all at DoD SBIR/STTR do not. 

Awards: The program has two Phases. NIH offers Direct to Phase II and the Fast Track option which is a combo Phase I/II. DoD can shorten the gap between Phase I and Phase II. They can also follow on an award from another agency; typically, through a sequential Phase II though on occasion through a direct to Phase II. Army and Defense Health Agency (DHA) SBIR/STTR awards managed by USAMRMC can provide up to $162.5k for Phase I and $1.075M for Phase II. Technologies of interest include combat casualty care, rehabilitation, prevention and treatment of infectious diseases affecting Service Members, Service Member operational health, and medical simulation and information sciences, including telemedicine and autonomous solutions. At NIH, SBIR/STTR award budget limitations are up to $225 for Phase I and $1.5M for Phase II. Specifically, NCATS funding focus is on drug discovery, bioinformatics, and clinical research management tools and technologies.   

Resources: There are many resources online to help get you up to speed on the basics (see: www.SBIR.gov as a great launch point). Specific to the NIH visit https://sbir.nih.gov and for NCATS visit https://ncats.nih.gov/smallbusiness for more information.  Speaking with a program manager to understand the nuances of the program is a good idea. Both speakers suggested studying in advance so that any 1-on-1 time with a program manager isn't spent on questions with answers available on the web!

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WIB-Capital Region: Financial Strategies for Professional Transitions and Career Elevation, June 25, 2019

Posted By Marina Pranda, Tuesday, July 23, 2019

On Tuesday, June 25th, Drinker Biddle & Reath LLP (DBR) hosted WIB - Capital Region's information-packed June program on the topic of Financial Strategies and Negotiations for Professional Transitions and Career Elevation. The event was well attended by chapter leadership and chapter members, as well as several attendees from DBR who were interested in both the topic and in learning more about Women In Bio. After some networking, Ann Marie Stanley, Science Advisor at DBR, opened the session by introducing the firm and welcoming all attendees to the event. She was followed by WIB - Capital Region chapter president, Lindsay Ryan, who provided background on the chapter and introduced the speaker, Erin Lawless Miller. 

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 Erin runs Hyperion, a government consulting firm that specializes in management turn around and staff development in life science companies. In addition to her other accomplishments, Erin holds a J.D. in Law from the Syracuse University College of Law and has certifications from Harvard Law School’s Program on Negotiations as well as National Labor College’s program on Labor Relations Union Training & Contract Negotiations and Collective Bargaining. 


Negotiation is a topic Erin is passionate about in general, but specifically within the context of helping women 'bypass the short-circuit' that seems to happen when women negotiate on their own behalf. Erin began her presentation by defining negotiation as "a discussion aimed at reaching an agreement." She then defined some important terms, gave an overview of basic negotiation skills, and presented some best practices (i.e. ground rules). With this foundation in place, the presentation was then focused on detailing a negotiation technique known as "Principled Negotiation," or negotiation on its merits. Erin explained her personal preference toward this technique because of its focus on being hard on the problem but soft on the people. As a result, when this approach is used by women, it does not carry the same negative connotation as other common negotiation approaches. Some of the other advantages of this technique are its focus on interests, not positions; its generation of options for mutual gain; and its insistence on utilizing objective criteria. The presentation was concluded with some tactics for overcoming challenges, like when the other party refuses to play, or when the other party employs dirty tricks.

After the presentation, Erin led the attendees through a negotiation exercise. The attendees were divided into two groups, with one group taking on the role of an employer and the other taking the role of a potential employee. Each group was given information and ground rules relevant to their position in the negotiation, but not given any additional information relevant to the other party's position. Each group then appointed a representative who was guided through a negotiation role-play that was educational for the entire group. The exercise further emphasized the importance of clarifying the interests of each party through questions and active listening, and how this could lead to the identification of opportunities for mutual gain.


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WIB-Capital Region: Women In Bio Roundtable, June 26, 2019

Posted By Marina Pranda, Wednesday, July 3, 2019

On Wednesday, June 26, representatives from organizations such as the Frederick National Lab, Aerotek, the NIH, and more joined members of the Women In Bio (WIB) - Capital Region leadership team and representatives from host sponsor and National WIB sponsor, Mount Saint Mary's University. After briefing about the WIB Capital Region Chapter by Chapter Chair Lindsay Ryan, Andi Overton from Mount St. Mary's University--Frederick Campus led a roundtable discussion about the Frederick region needs and opportunities with regards to WIB.

Strength and Area for Improvement: Mentoring
Groups like Graduate Women In Science and Women to Woman Mentoring provide mentoring for women at current stages of their careers, but there is still demand for more mid-career mentoring. WIB's current Frederick Mentors, Advisors, Peers, and Sponsors (MAPS) group provides that support but in a group mentoring format. There is also room for greater connections among such groups. Mentoring may be most in-demand for women who are seeking to move "off the bench" into business roles from academia or government. The importance of informational interviews and networking was emphasized got any career changers and job seekers. On the supply side, there are many women who work, live, or work from home in Frederick who could serve as mentors. Key sources include AstraZeneca and Leidos, both of which were represented at the event. For entrepreneurs, collaboration with groups like the Frederick Innovation Technology Center, Inc. may be key.

Potential WIB Events
Different types of activities were discussed, such as morning, lunchtime, or evening panels, single speakers, and networking events. Meetups at other events such as the Frederick National Lab Tech Showcase and social meetups (for example, a rafting trip) were also mentioned. The ability of panels to present multiple viewpoints was praised, and whatever the format, the inclusion of a diversity of career types and stages is important. Other key factors are to ensure that everyone feels welcome and that there is time for engagement. A mixture of formats and times is best, as availability ranges, and some people prefer content whereas others find great value in interaction and networking.


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WIB-Capital Region: Mentorship at Every Career Stage, May 16, 2019

Posted By Gelareh Abulwerdi , Friday, May 31, 2019

On the evening of May 16, 2019 at MaxCyte, WIB-Capital Region had a jam-packed agenda. Major themes from each speaker are summarized below. We also discussed MAPS Groups, which will be open for re-enrollment soon!

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 Deb Bowes, Chief Business Officer, Cell Therapies at MaxCyte 

Deb Bowes was an early WIB President and initiator of the MAPS program. She said that Women In Bio is a place to try things. She didn't know whether or not MAPS would succeed -- and that was okay. 

Bowes mentioned that one of the reasons for MAPS was to fill a gap that exists in mentoring. Many programs focus on younger women, but support for mentoring drops off as women progress in their careers, ironically when they can need it most. She was honored to speak with the group about MAPS, which was and has continued to be successful.  

Last, she emphasized the importance of taking on a leadership role with WIB. It was what took her to the next level of development, and she delights in hearing that commitment to a leadership role in WIB is heavily noticed by hiring managers.  

Dr. Ofelia Olivero, Chief of Intramural Diversity Workforce Branch Center for Cancer Training at NCI 

After an illustrious career in science, Dr. Olivero transitioned to other leadership roles at NIH, authoring a book titled "Interdisciplinary mentoring in Sciences" along the way.

We began by talking about what mentoring is -- and isn't. Mentoring is helping someone understand and think about what paths they may take in life or in a particular situation. It is about truly believing in someone else and their success. It is not about telling the mentee what they should do. Mentors can often be confused with supervisors, which can result in a conflict between the professional interests of the supervisor and the interests of the mentee. 

The benefits of mentoring -- whether it's mentoring from someone who is more experienced or a peer -- are numerous for all parties involved. Mentees benefit from having a consistent source of guidance (though more than one mentor is often a great idea!). More surprising were the benefits to mentors -- including improving active listening skills, an improved sense of fulfillment and self work, a renewed attention and purpose to their own careers, and the opportunity at times to get up to speed with new technologies and ways of communicating.  

This mutually beneficial scenario evokes a sense of gratitude in both parties. We moved on to the multiplicative effect of mentoring, which has gratitude to thank. When mentoring is working, each party has a deep sense of gratitude, which encourages a desire to "pay it forward".  Dr. Olivero shared the story of the One Grain of Rice, which illustrates the power of the multiplicative effect, and provided everyone with a reminder of this lesson -- a grain of rice in an Eppendorf tube! 

Erin Lawless Miller, Chief Operating Officer, Orphan Drug Unit, IQVIA

Miller has been the leader of the Silver Spring MAPS group for several years. She plans activities for the group, often engaging members of the group to lead different sessions. She shared her career journey, which heavily benefited from her commitment to professional networking. As her career progressed, she simultaneously achieved success and gave back  by reaching back and mentoring to promising early-career individuals. 

 

Tags:  2019  MAPS 

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WIB-Capital Region: Member Spotlight - Margot Connor

Posted By Marina Pranda , Tuesday, May 14, 2019

Margot Connor


Margot Connor is currently the Chief Executive Officer of RoosterBio Inc, a regenerative medicine company on a fast-growth trajectory in Frederick, MD. Margot has led the company through major growth and development since its early founding.  RoosterBio aims to radically change the way that scientists use stem cells and to propel the industrialization of regenerative technologies. The company is enabling living cellular technologies to become more affordable, easier to access, and much simpler to incorporate into product development efforts, leading to a rapid acceleration in products coming to market that incorporate these technologies. Ultimately these efforts will lead to new, game-changing regenerative therapies, serving patients in need. Margot Connor’s professional journey has taken her through many fascinating and diverse positions, primarily on the business side of biology both in the US and in Europe. Margot has a personal dedication to mentoring, with anyone aiming to broaden and advance their career horizons. Margot Connor strongly believes in the mission of Women In Bio and actively supports activities by serving on the WIB-Capital Region Advisory Board and she was also a speaker at the 2018 HERstory Gala.

Tell us about your background (both educational and professional).

I received a bachelor’s degree in textile chemistry with a dual degree in strategic marketing from the University of Maryland. During my undergraduate studies, I was primarily focused on the technical aspects of my degree; however, upon graduation, I immediately focused my career in positions on the commercial side of science. My early career concentrated on sales, marketing, and business development at large life science companies. As my professional development evolved, I began taking on managerial roles and leading business units inside of larger entities. One of these business units was spun out and divested, leading me to develop a strong interest in mergers and acquisitions. I was then asked to join the Lonza Group to build the investor relations and corporate communications organization and internal competencies. I was also the acting spokesperson for the company. This role also gave me the opportunity to spend a few years living in Switzerland, which was a priceless experience and it truly broadened my outlook. Following this position, I began my adventure in M&A with Lonza and then founded my own consulting firm focusing on life science transactions. Over the course of my career, I was a part of many M&A transactions valued at over $1.5 billion. In 2015 I joined an exciting startup called RoosterBio, Inc, and I’ve loved every minute of this experience. I’m a firm believer that a company is about its people and the relationships we foster. I’ve sought to bring my experiences full circle at RoosterBio, now having grown to 50 employees and continuing to expand rapidly. 

1. What role did mentorship play in helping you to achieve your career goals?


I consider mentorship to be a key aspect of any career path. In my case, I was incredibly fortunate to work with some great mentors who made a powerful difference in my career. At various times throughout my career, my mentors helped me to evaluate good career choices, opened my mind to new possibilities, and encouraged risk-taking. Mentoring can take on many forms, whether it’s a formalized mentor-mentee relationship, a supportive collaborator, an inspiring colleague, an invested boss or an insightful friend. I’ve certainly benefited from all of them.  On occasion, others see qualities in you that you don’t necessarily see in yourself, and mentorship is crucial for helping you discover and develop those qualities. In my experience, it’s important that one invests in mentorship and nurtures that relationship, in order for it to be effective. When mentorship relationships are fostered, it can significantly help to shape one’s personal and professional goals. In my case, my actual career path is extremely different from what I initially envisioned! Without those mentors throughout my career, I would not be where I am today at this extraordinary place in my journey. Mentors gave me their time, focus and advice without expectation of a return. I’ve been inspired to make it a part of my personal mission to give freely to others what was freely given to me. 

2. What the most exciting and personally fulfilling part of your work right now?


The mission of RoosterBio is to accelerate regenerative medicine and enable the translation from an academic idea into a commercial reality. Along the way, we get to play our part in creating and sustaining the regenerative medicine field and interacting with our customers. What inspires me the most about RoosterBio is building an organization that contributes to tomorrow’s life-saving cures and creating a culture that really inspires people. We emphasize some of our most valued qualities at RoosterBio: dedication, trustworthiness, integrity while also being open-minded, collaborative, transparent and challenging each other to be better, in a respectful way. Oh… and also not to take ourselves too seriously! We do like to have fun here at RoosterBio. 

3. What advice do you have for somebody who is a student or early-level in their career?

Don’t be afraid to look outside your comfort zone at opportunities. Seek out people who you admire and engage with them. Identify and make connections with people who inspire you. Invest your efforts in building relationships with mentors. Learn from these inspiring people and take advantage of their knowledge and expertise. In most cases, people truly like to share and help. Realize that there are opportunities everywhere you look. It’s important to stretch the concepts of yourself, and that is easier to do when someone is helping you along the way. Another piece of advice I like to give is: do something every day that scares or challenges you. You will be able to stretch yourself more when you become more comfortable taking risks. Finally, it’s also great to get involved in organizations like Women In Bio and leverage the organizations’ resources and depth of experience. 

4. Tell us how you got involved with Women In Bio, what you do for the organization, and what being a part of WIB means to you. 


I learned about Women In Bio through various industry contacts and was asked to speak at 2018 HERstory Gala. That event was truly inspiring, and I became excited about the organization. As I mentioned before, I believe that mentorship is crucial for career success and I found that WIB values this mission. I hope to support the mentorship portion of the organization by serving on the WIB-Capital Region Advisory Board now. I aim to contribute as not just a board member, but also as a professional/personal development mentor. One of the best feelings in the world is giving. Through one act, you can inspire others to go out and give back too. The positivity is contagious. That’s what WIB is all about. 

 

Tags:  2019  Member Spotlight 

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WIB-Capital Region: YWIB Capital Region Spring into STEM 2019: Biotechnology and Careers in Life Sciences, March 28, 2019

Posted By Gelareh Abulwerdi, Tuesday, April 23, 2019

On March 28th, Emergent BioSolutions welcomed about 45 students representing four high schools in the DC metro area to their headquarters in Gaithersburg, MD. Emergent BioSolutions is a global organization that develops, manufactures, and delivers a portfolio of medical countermeasures for biological and chemical threats, existing and emerging infectious diseases, as well as a treatment for opioid overdose. The students participated in an engaging and interactive, 2½-hour educational experience that consisted of a career panel, lab tour, discussion on DNA, and lunch networking opportunity.

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With the goal of connecting with the next generation of scientific talent, Lisa Richardson, Senior Director of Corporate Development, facilitated a discussion with panelists from different functional areas. The panel consisting entirely of female executives included the following individuals: Hansilla Alaigh, Director External Development, Jyoti Koushik, Senior Human Resources Business Partner, Laura Saward, Senior Vice President and Head of the Antibody Therapeutics Business Unit, Michelle Saylor, Director of Antibiotics Research and Development, Trudy Tucker, Principal Scientist Fermentation, and Kelly Warfield, Vice President of Vaccines and Anti-Infectives. Ellen Lawrence, Glenda Soriano, Heidi Swaim, Carleton Barbour, and John O’Lear, also served as presenters and lab tour guides. During the lab tour, the students looked visibly excited as they donned their personal protective equipment before entering the lab. The panelists, presenters, and tour guides all shared their background, how their interest in STEM helped them navigate their careers, their roles within the company, and how they contribute to the overall mission of Emergent. Their inspiring stories generated a lot of questions from the highly-engaged students and the work Emergent does sparked curiosity about public health and other issues.


“Throughout my 10 years of organizing student visits and lab tours, this is by far the most socially aware and most interested group of students I have seen,” said Ellen Lawrence, Principal Scientist and Emergent’s Corporate Social Responsibility Team Lead for Montgomery County/DC. “Their school buses were outside waiting to leave, but the questions just kept coming – how do you lower the cost of medicines, what makes a good hire, have you applied CRISPR in the work that you do, how did your company start – just a variety of interesting questions.”

“I cannot thank you all enough, the field trip was a fantastic experience!” said José Pomarino, Science National Honor Society President. 

“The trip was amazing because it made me really hopeful and I loved the pen so much,” said Ainsley Pollock, Wakefield High School student.

At the conclusion of the event, each participant received a swag bag filled with giveaways. To say the least, it was a productive and meaningful day. From the organizers’ perspectives, it was not about the pizza or the giveaways or the day off from school that truly made this day fun – it was all about the conversations and learning! Throughout the day, participants were able to learn more about what a career in the life sciences really entails. YWIB Capital Region would like to thank our volunteers who supported this event. We would especially like to thank Miko Neri, Senior Director Corporate Communications, for her efforts in coordinating this event and Emergent BioSolutions for providing such an awesome opportunity for a diverse group of high school students.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-Capital Region: YWIB Kid Museum Event, March 24, 2019

Posted By Gelareh Abulwerdi, Monday, April 15, 2019
KID museum hosted Girl Power Day on March 24th in Bethesda, MD.  Volunteers from Young Women In Bio (YWIB) – Capital Region participated in the event as STEM experts to engage in informal sessions with the girls and their families. Young Women In Bio hosted hands-on activities in Neuroscience Section. The activities are (i) muscle spiker activity with electrodes to measure the activity of your muscles in response to movement, (ii) brain hat activity to color different parts of the brain and make a colorful hat to take home and (iii) brain anatomy model. Volunteers from YWIB spearheaded the brain anatomy model activity. Each girl was provided with a disassembled brain model. With the guidance of the volunteer, the girls learned the different parts of the brain and its functions as they build the model. 

The volunteers also engaged in conversations with the parents to provide insights about the fundamentals of the brain and brain disorders. Our conversations were well-received by the parents. YWIB Capital region would like to thank KID museum for hosting the event, Claire Cocciole, Director of Maker and Community Partnerships for organizing the event with YWIB and our volunteers who came to support our event and helped make the event a success.

Read more about the highlights of the event.

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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