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.