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WIB-Seattle: Bubble Tea at Home Happy Hour with The Works Seattle, June 25, 2020

Posted By Debby Choudhury, Monday, July 6, 2020

The Women In Bio (WIB) Seattle Chapter hosted an on-demand Boba tea making class and instructional happy hour in association with The Works Seattle on June 25, 2020. At this unprecedented time, this event gave us an opportunity to connect and share our stories with the WIB community over homemade Boba tea. The event was kicked off by opening remarks from Programs Vice Chair, Dr. Alyssa (Rollando) Burke followed by a brief introduction of The Works Seattle by its owner/founder Kellie Phelan. 

In the beginning, Dr. Burke eloquently described the mission and vision of WIB-Seattle. WIB-Seattle is an organization that is committed to the support of women professionals who are working in the Life Sciences. It provides education, mentoring, and professional development assistance to women of all ages who are interested in a career in science.

The Works Seattle is a local small business that was founded with an aspiring goal to ‘nurture the community’. Phelan, who changed her career from environmental consulting to entrepreneurship shared her story and how the Boba Tea making class came into existence. In her own words, “I always had a soft spot for grandma skills — like baking, growing foods in the backyard, and knitting, etc. I realized that creating a place to share these creative skills will help in building a sense of community.” This is how The Works Seattle was born, where like-minded people gather, learn new things, and connect over a shared interest. It started as a pop-up which is now a store that employs seven women. Her Bubble/Boba Tea kit idea literally came to life from a beautiful personal story. Phelan, who is a mother of twins, reminisced her early parenting days. One day, her husband wanted to do something nice for his exhausted wife, so he ordered all the supplies and made Boba tea at home. After a few trials and errors, they perfected the art of making Boba tea at home and from that, the ‘Bubble/Boba Tea at Home kit’ was developed.

After the short introduction by Phelan, the event was followed by ‘Let’s get to know each other’ time. A total of 11 women who joined the virtual happy hour introduced themselves and fancied about the ideal destination they want to visit once this pandemic ends. This led to the Boba tea kit again. Phelan described that the best thing about making Boba/Bubble Tea at home is that it is customizable. It can be made with any kind of tea (Black, Earl Grey, etc.) or sugar substitute of your choice. The flavor profile can also be customized. “Just make a simple syrup and infuse it with the flavor of your choice”, Phelan added. The name “Boba or Bubble tea” came from the fact that this drink is shaken with ice to create bubbles and chewy tapioca pearls are added to give a superior taste and texture to the drink, Phelan explained.

An attendee, K. Ingrid Durenberger who is a Clinical Data Manager at Bristol Myers Squibb highlighted the fact that when most of us are working from home and going through a difficult time, it was a great pleasure seeing all the wonderful women today and to learn so much about Bubble tea. On the same note, Phelan also emphasized the fact that it’s easy to feel lost during this time, but these kinds of activities bring communities together. 

The last 15 minutes of the event was reserved for networking where the attendees got the opportunity to connect with women from a diverse background with fascinating careers.

Tags:  2020 

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WIB-Seattle: Hack the Performance Review Webinar, April 7, 2020

Posted By Sue Koo, Wednesday, April 22, 2020
On April 7, 2020, the Women In Bio Seattle Chapter was thrilled to have Keita Williams, founder of the elite accountability practice Success Bully, present "Hack the Performance Review", just in time for annual performance reviews and for those evaluating their professional and personal goals. Williams has facilitated action-oriented workshops for various global groups and shared her expertise with diverse organizations, including those serving women and minorities. Considered as an expert in goal setting, Williams has been featured in many nationally recognized media outlets.

Williams delivered a dynamic presentation with engaging tips and tricks from preparation to post-review. Her advice included the following: how to prepare for the interview including a list of some hard questions to ask yourself while preparing for the review, how to structure the conversation with your supervisor, and how to prepare for your next review. Furthermore, Williams discussed solution-oriented positioning, including addressing the goals that one did not achieve, re-writing goals, breaking down goals with benchmarks, and documenting progress.

For more information on hacking performance reviews and goal setting, including the coaching methodology, Your 90-Day-Way, visit www.SuccessBully.com. Additionally, Williams is graciously sharing her workbook and goal tracker found on www.SuccessBully.com/htpr. Her podcast can also be found on the Success Bully website, featuring women in leadership and interviews on what makes them successful.

We thank Williams for dedicating her time and expertise with us, and working with us on rescheduling this event. Originally scheduled as our March event, the rise of novel coronavirus outbreak (COVID-19) deferred the event to April as a webinar during Washington state's stay-at-home period. We also thank Alexandria Real Estate Equities for sponsoring this event and for their continual support to our chapter.

Tags:  2020 

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WIB-Seattle Member Spotlight: K. Ingrid Durenberger

Posted By Debby Choudhury, Friday, March 20, 2020

K. Ingrid Durenberger

A woman with the right attitude, patience, and perseverance can do it all. The story of K. Ingrid Durenberger’s success is an example of how to move forward in spite of hardships, unknowns, and adverse conditions. She has done it all - made hard decisions about changing career paths, choosing to raise a family over working outside the home and then getting back into her career after a 10-year gap. She defies status-quo at every step of her career and is an inspiration to many of us at Women In Bio (WIB). Previously the Communications Chair for WIB-Seattle while working as a Data Manager at Fred Hutch, she is now a Senior Clinical Data Manager at Bristol-Myers Squibb, Co-Chair of Mentors-Advisor-Peers-Sponsors (MAPS) and the chapter’s Sponsorship committee social media specialist.

Beginning of the Journey 

Ingrid was always interested in science as a child. She had a microscope in elementary school, which spiked her interest in microbiology. Soon after getting a degree from Seattle University in biology, she landed a job at The Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center in an immunology research lab. Her reminiscence of that place brought a smile to her face - “One of the inspiring people I met there was Carl June. He was working as a fellow and was at the beginning of his immunology career who later went on to be the main contributors in inventing CAR-T technology, which is really very exciting”. She then decided to go to graduate school and got her masters in molecular toxicology and started working as an applied toxicologist at Boeing for several years. In her own words “It was mainly related to workers health and safety issues, so I worked with industrial hygienists and it was both interesting and frustrating at the same time.” She continued, “the frustration was mainly due to lack of conclusive toxicology data, so we could not give a worker much information on what might have been causing a toxic reaction. Applied toxicology area was very thin those days, and I hope it's a lot better now”. 

Change is good 

Life changed rapidly for Ingrid after that. In 2001, the aftermath of the 9/11 attack was felt in the airline industry, which impacted Boeing. As a result of that, she lost her job. She started working part-time and focused on raising her family for the next several years. In the meantime, her husband got a job in Toronto, Canada and they had to move. She was searching for a job in toxicology and although she had a work permit, nobody was hiring at that time. In spite of going through that challenging time, she was constantly pursuing a path forward, and thinking about doing some training which might get her into a new job. “I met a medical writer through networking, and learned a lot about clinical research. I decided to do a certificate program in clinical research, where I learned drug development process and regulatory affairs. This got me an internship where I worked on clinical trials of a drug and its effects on mental health”. Soon after that she and her husband came back to the United States and she had to leave her internship early. Even without completing the internship, the amount of exposure she got while being there helped her get a job at Seattle Cancer Care Alliance in clinical research. This was a whole new career path and she decided to switch her career trajectory from toxicology towards clinical research. She wanted to see the effect of the work she was doing and move closer to the process where people are benefitting from the drug trials. While doing so she also got a closer look at the process of a drug getting into the market. She started working as a clinical coordinator and then stepped up as a clinical data manager at Fred Hutch. In her own words, “My sponsor was UW, my second employer was UW, it was just like a homecoming, a full circle”.


Adapt, Change and Grow  

At Fred Hutch, where she worked as a data manager, Ingrid worked mostly with HIV drugs and HIV/AIDS activists. She was deeply involved in clinical trials and always got to see the trial results first hand, which she found very impressive and said it gave her so much perspective. She learned a lot about academic clinical trials and later decided to join biopharmaceutical clinical trials. She went on saying, “The intensity of doing clinical trials for pharma companies and doing research in academia are so different and again a hard transition. I decided to join Juno Therapeutics 8 months back, and it was a very intense 8 months. I have learned a ton the time I have been here. Not only witnessing clinical trials leading to submission but also patients getting cured, is equally inspiring”.


WIB, Friends and Career  

On being asked what her biggest career blocker she experienced was, her answer resonates with many of the women in WIB: The gap of 10 years to care for her family. That did not stop her from adapting to new situations and keeping on learning. She was in her fifties when she decided to get into the clinical research job. It was not easy and she had to deal with many rejections. It was her step-brother who got cured from metastatic melanoma with one of the experimental drugs in clinical trials- that gave her a boost to stick with clinical research. She got in touch with his doctor and joined the amazing research group. That was inspiring as well as a motivating factor for her not to give up and keep on fighting for something she believed heavily in. 


Nuggets of Wisdom

On asking what would be her advice to the new members of WIB – she insisted on two things, “Come to every event possible. Plan ahead as it's once a month and you want to have meaningful interactions with as many people as you can,” and “Do not worry about people judging you. Just be yourself.” 

Tags:  2020  Member Spotlight 

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WIB-Seattle: YWIB-Seattle at the Fred Hutch for a Look Inside Our Blood!, February 26, 2020

Posted By Brittany Ruhland, Monday, March 16, 2020

For the second year in a row, YWIB-Seattle collaborated with the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center (FHCRC) for an event titled "Join YWIB-Seattle at the Fred Hutch for a Look Inside Our Blood!" on February 26, 2020. Eleven students from Seattle-area high schools attended to learn about the fascinating and complex components that make up our blood. Dr. Beverly Torok-Storb (FHCRC, Clinical Research Division) introduced students to the concept of adult stem cells, and their immense potential for regeneration therapy. The students looked through many microscopy images of various blood cells to gain a greater understanding of how all these cells work together, and to be able to identify them in their samples later in the lab. While discussing internships for high school students at the FHCRC, Dr. Torok-Storb emphasized the importance of diversity in the biomedical workforce: utilizing everyone's unique perspective means that together we will be able to generate creative research advances even faster.

Click here for more photos.

After learning the necessary background information, students donned the proper safety gear and first demonstrated to themselves the concept of G-force, relevant to the centrifuge they later used. They did this by swinging a bucket of water above their heads, and staying dry because G-forces kept the water inside the bucket. The overall goal of their lab activity was to learn how to make whole-blood and enriched-sample smears on a slide, and image those smears by microscopy after staining. The majority of cells in these smears were red blood cells, but after properly centrifuging their samples of dog blood in a sugar gradient, students were able to enrich for lymphocytes and stain smears of concentrated immune cells present in the blood samples. Dr. Torok-Storb connected observations students made based on their slides, like the presence or absence of lymphocytes in whole-blood smears, to the clinical manifestations of leukemia discussed in her talk. Students were able to see some of the facilities and lab spaces at FHCRC in a tour, while learning what happens in those spaces and how it tied back to the mission of FHCRC.

Tags:  2020  ywib 

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WIB-Seattle: Serving a Non-Profit Event, February 4, 2020

Posted By Sue Koo, Thursday, February 20, 2020

On February 4, 2020, Women In Bio - Seattle chapter had the pleasure of being joined by two guest speakers: Amy Bottoms, Principal at Catalyst Advisors LP, and Kristine Grace, CEO at JOLT Biotech. Bottoms and Grace spoke about “Serving a Non-Profit” as a board member.


Click here for more photos 

Bottoms, with over 20 years’ experience in an executive leadership firm in the biotechnology space, highlighted the importance of leveraging one’s network and positioning themselves for the Board of Directors. A recent BIO member survey suggested that there remains to be a lack in diversity at the board level, as 18% at board level are women and 93% of reporting companies having majority male boards. She pointed out that there are changes underway – for example, two bills recently introduced to the House will help increase opportunities for women to serve on boards. Further, approximately half of open Director roles at S&P 500 companies went to women in 2019.

Non-profit boards can be an opportunity for even beginning stages of one’s career. In board members, very specific experiences to capitalize on, being complementary and additive to the group, raising the profile of the organization, and presence of leadership are a selection of qualities that are looked for. To position one for board service, one’s a unique experience to help the organization, highlighting strategic skills to help transform an organization, concrete examples and value offered are important in a resume. A final note was that most board opportunities come from one’s own network. These roles do not compete with one’s day job, therefore telling everyone of your interest will be very helpful to find board opportunities and that searching internally within your company can also be useful.

Our second speaker, Kristine Grace, is a dental surgeon turned investor and CEO, and she advised on finding our passion empowering your organization to become even better. When one is wanting to work with a non-profit, Grace emphasized to carefully think about the organization’s mission statement and the commitment that you will make to them. This includes the time to the organization and financial obligations. An important question to ask yourself is what are you there for.
The leadership and diversity of the board to meet your skill set significantly matter to drive the future of the organization. Grace shared her personal experience on various boards, highlighting the importance of one’s role on each board, the leadership, and the impact made to the organization and the community. Grace also shared an example timeline to address the responsibilities of starting a non-profit from scratch, including developing a mission statement, selecting board members, writing executive summaries, articles of incorporation, and registering for receiving funding as a non-profit. 

A question from the audience asked when someone could realistically start looking to secure a board member position. An answer was that in non-profits, if you are passionate about the mission, perhaps at any stage of one’s career. As Bottoms nicely concluded: Show what you value. Be patient. Start somewhere.

We are so grateful to Kristine Grace and Amy Bottoms for their time and for sharing their invaluable insights with us. We also thank the non-profit, Sage Bionetworks, for donating their unique space in Belltown for this event.

Tags:  2020 

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WIB-Seattle: Annual Holiday Celebration, December 9, 2019

Posted By Diana Koch, Monday, January 13, 2020

The WIB-Seattle Annual Holiday Celebration was held on Monday, December 9 at The Collective, located in the South Lake Union biotech hub. The event is traditionally highly attended and this year did not disappoint, as registration was full before the doors opened for the evening. The party was a wonderful mix of professionals of all ages, backgrounds, and careers. Companies represented by the attendees included Adaptive Biotechnologies, Juno Therapeutics, a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, Amazon, the University of Washington, and many more. It was a great opportunity for women new to the group to meet people in different work sectors, broaden their network, and learn about industry trends.

Click here for more photos.

The WIB-Seattle Board gave short presentations to highlight the impact of WIB on the Seattle life sciences community and the amazing women that make it possible. Andrea Knapp, former WIB-Seattle Chapter Chair and longtime WIB volunteer, gave a speech to inspire attendees to volunteer for WIB. Chapter Vice Chair, Laura Szkolar Sienkiewicz, gave an overview of our chapter's activities and presented a certificate to Shon Green, a recipient of the WIB Founder's Professional Development Scholarship. Green will use her award to attend the Landmark Forum and the Seattle Enlightened Leaders meeting, which are programs for developing professional and personal growth. In a special presentation, Chapter Chair Emeritus, Katie Smolnycki, presented an award to Andrea Knapp to honor her past six years with the WIB – Seattle Board and recounted the many advancements Andrea provided our chapter. Sponsors of WIB, including the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center and Juno Therapeutics, a Bristol-Myers Squibb Company, gave brief talks about their respective companies and emphasized the importance of increasing opportunities for women in science.

The Holiday Celebration is always a place of good food and good cheer, but this year some fun and games were included as well. The membership table hosted a scavenger hunt which encouraged participants to meet new people and learn about WIB. There is always something to look forward to at the Holiday Celebration. As Stephanie Tatem Murphy, Treasurer, reflected, "The WIB Holiday Social always surprises me with new women that joined specifically to attend the event. It is a busy time of year and yet they join and attend to connect and network. My goal is to meet new faces and ask how they like the event. I regularly receive several LinkedIn requests afterwards and encourage them to attend future WIB events."

If you weren't able to attend the event this year, remember to mark your calendar and register early next year, because the WIB-Seattle Holiday Celebration is definitely an event not to be missed! Happy Holidays to everyone from WIB-Seattle and Happy New Year!



Tags:  2019 

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WIB-Seattle: Member Spotlight Interview - Strategic Planning with Alexis Katsis, MS, Ph.D.

Posted By Diana Koch, Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Alexis Katsis, MS, Ph.D. 

Strategic Planning. We see this buzzword all over career development sites and echoing through the chambers of the C-suite. But what is it? Why is it important to your career development and how do you get involved? Alexis Katsis, MS, Ph.D. is the Director of Lab Data Management and a member of the senior management team for the Statistical Center for HIV/AIDS Research and Prevention (SHARP) at the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center, as well as the Vice-Chair for Programs for Women In Bio- Seattle. Here we talk with her about how she got to work in strategic planning, why strategic planning is important to your career, and how to pursue strategic planning projects at your organization. 

From an early age, Katsis was passionate about science. She attributes her love of science to her mother, who was a scientist herself. Her mother used her experience in science to engage her children’s curiosity about the natural world and how it works. As a result, Alexis was hooked. 

Alexis pursued her love of biology by earning a BA in Biotechnology at Rutgers University. She then worked in the biotech industry for Vion Pharmaceuticals and Pfizer only to discover she did not feel her scientific work was making a big enough impact on the world. She went on to a Master’s in Public Health Microbiology at George Washington University, which gave her field experience collecting samples in Brazil. Then she held a fellowship at the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), leading a field team in Haiti. Concerned that her credentials were not providing her enough opportunities, she returned to George Washington University to earn a Ph.D. in Microbiology-Immunology. Her Ph.D. work evaluated the relationship of parasitic worms and the immune system. “Nothing grosses me out anymore,” Katsis says in reflection. While refining her talents and becoming more aware of her interests and skills, Katsis determined that benchwork was not the best place for her. She felt she was never going to be a great scientist, but she had other valuable skills she wanted to use to contribute to global public health. She moved from the Washington, D.C. area to Seattle to take a fellowship at the Gates Foundation as Program Officer for Enteric and Diarrheal Diseases. This was Katsis’ first formal experience with strategic planning and she loved it. 

Her role at the Gates Foundation provided the framework she uses today in strategic planning. She learned experientially by being a part of a team of skillful strategic planners. Part of her work at the Gates Foundation was to redefine one of the strategies for her team. In this process, she learned best practices for this discipline. The Gates Foundation has a very defined process, which had a cadence of deliverables, clearly stating what was expected. Katsis recalls, “It was a great opportunity to be on a high functioning team there, really eye-opening to see that. We sort of do [strategic planning] already as scientific researchers. [We think] ‘there’s a big question I have. Here’s where I want to get to. What steps do we need to get to along the way?’ But to see it at an organizational level was really impressive.” This may sound like project management because the project management process can be used to reach strategic goals. However, it is different from project management because it is about thinking of the whole organization: multiple projects all with different stakeholders, resources, and functions but driven together toward one common aim. Strategic planning is the higher-order view of how an organization brings all the pieces together to achieve the organization's goals. 

It was through Katsis' experience at the Gates Foundation that she learned the value of making the effort to strategically plan and enforce the plan. The results are tremendous in a high functioning team, everyone is clear about the priorities and understands the work that needs to be done. Strategic plans are an invaluable communication tool. 

So what is strategic planning? It is the process of determining what the organization would like to achieve in the long term and setting goals and processes in place to reach those goals. There are 5-year long term plans, 1-year plans, and plans for in between. Each stage has its own goals or milestones which are shared with the departments of the organization. The departments then tease out what their contribution will be toward these goals, what resources they will need, and what tasks they must complete fulfilling their contribution. Once a strategic plan is in place a department can look at their objectives and prioritize them based on how each objective aligns with the organizational strategic vision. Objectives developed for strategic plans are reevaluated at least annually to ensure the objectives are the best means to approach the overall goal. 

In terms of career development, “[Knowledge of strategic planning] is an important step in getting from middle management to executive management. In middle management, you focus on your team functions. Strategic planning is about seeing the larger strategy of the organization. This knowledge is necessary for you to get to the executive level because at that level, it’s essentially all you do, viewing from the whole organizational level.” Even for career women that are not interested in executive work, being knowledgeable and contributing to your organization’s strategic plan makes you a more valuable employee. As a director and member of a senior management team, she wants to hear her employees are engaged in her organization's overall plan. “When the members of my team come to me and say, ‘I have this idea that I think can positively impact our work and the work of other teams.’ that’s fantastic!” 

Getting trained in strategic planning may be easier than you think. Katsis states, “I think [strategic planning] can be performed by anyone with the right training. It will be easier for people that naturally think bigger picture, but otherwise, anyone can do it.” For experiential learners, training can be talking with your boss about the organization’s strategic plan and taking on a side project or watching out for task force opportunities with your organization. If you are more interested in basic theory, there are books and online courses on the subject. Katsis advises, “Women tend to take a course or get a certificate or something like that to prove they have skills in something. Whereas men just automatically assume they can do things and just ask for that opportunity. I think I’d like to see more women ask for the opportunity to participate in strategic planning. Go to your boss when you see a problem that affects the overall structure and offer a way to fix it.“ Women In Bio (WIB) also has opportunities for you to participate in strategic development at the chapter and national level. 

How does WIB play into your professional strategic plan? Katsis encourages new WIB members to use their elevator pitch to make the connections they need to achieve those long-term goals. She states, “Hone your elevator pitch. People want to help. The more specific you can be about what helping means [to you], the more helpful people can be. Hone your elevator pitch to be about what you need from people. Who are you trying to meet? What kind of work are you looking for or wanting to learn about?” A skilled elevator pitch shared at WIB events can provide a fast track to developing and achieving your strategic plan.

Tags:  2019  Member Spotlight 

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WIB-Seattle: WIB Member Spotlight: Andrea Knapp

Posted By Debby Choudhury, Monday, November 25, 2019

Andrea Knapp


A unique road to project management

Andrea Knapp is a Program Manager at Impel NeuroPharma, the National Membership Chair for Women In Bio, and a Director-at-large of the Seattle Chapter. On a crisp fall morning over a cup of coffee, she shared her journey. “I’m a Midwest girl”, Andrea cheerfully said, “I am from Wisconsin and spent most of my life in the Midwest.” After getting a bachelor’s degree in Molecular Biology from the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, she joined Covance, a contract research organization, where she worked as a researcher in preclinical pharmaceutical drug development. During her work in the toxicology division at Covance, repetitive activity gave rise to wrist tendonitis. Due to physical limitations and the inability to perform 90% of her work, she transferred to the autoradiography lab within the Drug Metabolism group at Covance, where she met her husband. She and her husband were among only a couple hundred people in the world who specialized in the autoradiography technique. After three and a half years, she moved to a small town in Michigan where she and her husband implemented the autoradiography capability for MPI Research. After four years in Kalamazoo, she just didn’t feel like she belonged there. “I had chronic migraines and was miserable, I was getting 20 or more headaches each month, on 13 medications, something about life needed to change,” she said. 

When she had to move out of the lab, she started developing her soft skills and got training and experience in project management and Six Sigma process improvement. She became a trainer and developed training programs, scheduled staff, and resources, and was on a number of large scale, companywide process improvement projects at both Covance and MPI Research. She explained, “At MPI Research I managed everything for the lab startup, from construction to hiring staff and training, and that is where I started thinking about my next role and was drawn to project management. There wasn’t much available in Michigan, so I set my sights on a more biotech rich area.” 
She began exploring job opportunities around the country, which included a couple in Seattle. After researching the area more to determine if Seattle would be a good fit, she dedicated her job search there, but got tired of hearing, “we went with the local candidate.” So, she and her husband sold their house, quit their jobs, and moved to Seattle. In her own words, “Me, my husband, dog, and cat jumped in a car and landed in an apartment in South Lake Union. This October makes it six years in Seattle. It was a rough adjustment initially after living in a big house with a yard and downsizing to a small apartment, but what drew me was what the city has to offer, both professionally and personally. Michigan was my husband’s pick and Seattle was mine. I got super engaged with my community right after I moved here.”

After coming to Seattle, she worked as a Regulatory Specialist at Benaroya Research Institute, then as a Clinical Trial Associate at C3 Research Associates, obtained a certificate in Biotech Project Management from the University of Washington and finally made the official transition to project management as a Program Manager at NanoString Technologies. Shortly after acquiring the Project Management Professional certification, she started at Impel as a Program Manager, where she manages the Parkinson’s program with a more classic project management approach. Impel is a drug delivery device company, and she mentioned how interesting it is to be exposed to the device side of the industry. 

Relaunching WIB-Seattle

When asked about how she got involved with WIB, she said that she discovered WIB when she was in the Midwest and it looked like an amazing association, but the closest chapter was in Chicago and it wasn’t viable for her to participate due to the distance. So, when she moved to Seattle and found out there was a local WIB chapter, she wanted to be involved. It was 2013 and at that time WIB-Seattle was in the process of relaunching. She reached out and connected with the then Chapter Vice-Chair, Stacie Byars. Andrea had done a lot of volunteering and served as a leader in multiple associations. She discovered that “WIB was more my people.” She came on board right away as Communication Vice-Chair and has been in leadership roles with WIB-Seattle for six years, including Communication Chair and was briefly Chapter Vice-Chair before a long tenure as Chapter Chair. She said, “there was the same group working their tails off on the board for two years, and we experienced a lot of turnover when I found myself stepping into the role of chapter leader earlier than expected. So, I started tapping friends on the shoulder to help. Fortunately, because of diligent networking, I had enough shoulders I could tap and a lot of people stepped up. I led a lot of process improvements in the organization; we wrote chapter best practices and processes, defined role responsibilities and descriptions, developed budgets, created a document repository, and more. Since Chapter Chair, I’ve been a Director-at-large. It’s a role that I created to provide a space to provide previous committee leaders a place to continue to participate. It helps you to take a step back.” She will be rolling off the board at the end of the year and will become a member of the advisory board. 

“Show up and be persistent”

When asked to give one piece of advice to new WIB members, Andrea said, “Step one, show up and step two, be persistent. Roll your sleeves up and get involved in volunteering. When you volunteer alongside other women, they see you in a professional capacity, and a bonus is you make friends. I not only know them, but I have worked alongside them and we can vouch for one another.”

Knowing your value

Andrea shared a story where she held onto her values and stood firm in her value. In her own words, “I was working with my husband at the time and we had implemented a successful new capability. After shifting roles into a fully dedicated role to the lab, I found myself a grade higher than my husband and with management responsibilities, but he made ~50% more than me. When I went to renegotiate, I discovered there was a paperwork error but the message I left with was to just be happy that I had a job. The lab I built from scratch and was managing was a great asset to the company, so I knew my value. There were only 50 people in the United States at that time that specialized in the technique and I was also an officer and on the board for the industry society. I was well connected and knew how to position the lab in the market. I did not stop the conversation; I did everything I could to make it right. Despite my physical limitations, I kept working long hours and work-life balance started to diminish. After fighting for a year and a half, I put my foot down and recognized that it was time to move on. I am glad that I made that choice and ended up in an organization where I feel that I am being recognized for my value, hard work and leadership. It wasn’t easy, it took time, but it paid off.”
“Seek out people where you want to be” 

“Seek out people where you want to be,” she said when asked for suggestions to give someone transitioning to a different career. “I deliberately developed a network that included people within the role and companies that I was targeting. As I’ve made my way in my career, I’ve tried to pay it forward.” When people reach out to her for coffee, she sits down with them and asks what they are looking for. She emphasized doing the research ahead of time. “Your job and company should be a good fit for you, so figure out what you want,” she added.

“Take care of yourself”

Wrapping up the interview Andrea shared how important is to take care of oneself. She mentioned that she has been focused on refining her career trajectory and forgot to stop to enjoy where she arrived. “I have put so much effort to get to this PM role and to build this network, so I am really just going to enjoy it and sit back for a while,” she said with a smile.

Tags:  2019  Member Spotlight 

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WIB-Seattle: Dive into Marine Biology with YWIB-Seattle at the Seattle Aquarium, November 13, 2019

Posted By Brittany Ruhland, Wednesday, November 20, 2019

Young Women In Bio-Seattle headed to the Seattle Aquarium on November 13, 2019. Twenty-two high school students rolled up their sleeves to perform squid dissections and plankton tows, followed by a great career panel with experts in marine biology.

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Students were first able to observe first-hand how the chromatophores of a market squid can change color with applied pressure. After carefully noting how the external features of a squid contribute to its function, students enthusiastically began their dissection under the guidance of a Seattle Aquarium expert. 

After delving into the anatomy of a squid, students turned their attention to the bountiful microorganisms living in Elliot Bay underneath the Seattle Aquarium. Groups of two to three students performed plankton tows off the side of the pier as the sun set behind the Olympic Mountains. Students then searched for zooplankton and phytoplankton using microscopes and identification guides; the occasional excited raised voice let us know when a fast-moving plankton species was spotted! 

Three wonderful panelists from the Seattle Aquarium concluded the evening with a lively discussion of careers in marine biology. Kathryn Kegel (Senior Aquarist), Julie Carpenter (Associate Curator of Birds & Mammals), and Caitlin Hadfield (Senior Veterinarian) spoke about their own educational and professional paths, as well as answering specific questions from students on how to set themselves up for success in marine biology during college. The many and varied student questions ranged from topics of current research going on at the Seattle Aquarium to the best strategies for getting involved in marine conservation. Because marine biology and conservation go hand in hand, the panelists also shared their thoughts on how best to promote inclusion in the field of conservation, and how conservation ties into their own work.

Our YWIB-Seattle team would like to thank the wonderful Seattle Aquarium Connections Program for helping to make this event happen, our fantastic panelists for sharing their advice, and of course, all the students who brought their infectious enthusiasm!

Tags:  2019  YWIB 

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WIB-Seattle Member Spotlight: Kimberly Collins

Posted By Debarati Choudhury, Wednesday, November 13, 2019

Kimberly Collins


A non-linear path to scientific marketing

Kimberly Collins is a Senior Scientific Marketing Specialist at RareCyte Inc, a Seattle based start-up and the Communication Committee Vice-Chair for the Seattle chapter of Women In Bio (WIB). Sitting down with Collins for a candid chat, she shared her story on a rainy Seattle afternoon. Her journey has been somewhat unorthodox - what she describes as a “non-linear path”. Her curiosity in science and medicine started growing when her mother’s twin sister was diagnosed with terminal breast cancer. That situation was monumental and inspired her to go to medical school. During her pre-med classes, she realized that she didn’t quite fit in with her pre-med colleagues. As fate had it, she took a job as a solution maker in a college chemistry lab and decided to apply to grad school instead of medical school. She did her Ph.D. in Cellular and Molecular Biology through a joint program of University of Washington and Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center. The graduate program at that time had limited resources for helping students transition beyond the bench and Collins decided to pursue further research. She completed her postdoc from Stowers Institute for Medical Research, Kansas City, Missouri. After her postdoc, she moved back to Seattle and joined GE Healthcare, where she worked for the next 4 years. In 2018, she transitioned to her current company, RareCyte, Inc., a spin-off of GE Healthcare. 

In her own words, this is how she made her transition from “bench science to product support to scientific communication and scientific marketing.”

WIB connections to the biotech community

 She got involved with WIB in 2017. Her interest in WIB rose after she read about it online, and attended the summer and holiday social. She found out that the members were incredibly warm and welcoming, and she decided to become a member to be actively involved in helping other women in life sciences. 

When asked about how WIB helped her personal and professional growth, she said, “personally, I would say I feel more connected to the biotech community and I feel lucky that WIB has also been a source of friends. Professionally, I have gained leadership skills by being on the WIB Seattle Board and by seeing how others’ lead and run their committees. Now I’m starting to think about how we want to run our committee next year.” Collins also noted, “The leadership experience has been really great and I have noticed that the increased confidence reflects well at work.”

Get as involved as you can

When asked to give one piece of advice to new WIB members, Collins said, “Get as involved as you can. If you can’t join a committee, try a MAPS group, join the events, basically participate to whatever degree your schedule allows you. It is instrumental to build your professional network.” Collins strongly believes that we live in an era where personal contact will help you to get a job. It took her a while to learn that and she hopes that other women learn how important community is to career development more quickly! 

Success doesn’t come without heartache

While talking about struggles along her career path, she spoke of an obstacle during her postdoc. After 4 years into her postdoc, a major project failed. She had two options then; she could leave and do something different, or she could start over with a new project. She decided to stay and designed a successful project, despite the new project being large scale and difficult to complete with limited project resources. She worked incredibly hard and long hours to take the project off the ground. “I was so dedicated to that project. What kept me going is my passion to discover new genes. At the end, I identified two novel genes. That was a success that I can be proud of. But it didn’t come without a lot of heartache”, she added. 

Don’t stop learning

When asked about what her suggestion would be to those who will likely have several career transitions throughout their careers, she said “Don’t stop learning. Take every opportunity in your job and make the most of them to learn something new.” She suggested others consider working at a startup, explaining that she learned a wide breadth of skills that she did not have the opportunity to learn while working with a multinational company. With biotech start-ups being under-staffed in most cases, you can volunteer to take on a task or project at work and figure it out along the way. That will expand your knowledge overall. 

In wrapping up the interview, Kim shared that she hopes to move over to medical communications and medical affairs. She is enjoying the marketing and communication work that she has been doing and would love to be closer to patients. 

Tags:  2019  Member Spotlight 

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