Spring Networking Event

AGES is hosting a Spring Networking Event on March 27th, from 6-8 PM in the Whitaker Hall Atrium. We have invited successful researchers, professionals, and WUSTL graduates to network with us and help students develop connections in industry. Come ready to connect with reps from Bayer, Google, Boeing, the MO Botanical Gardens, Launch Code, Pfizer, and many more. Food and beverages are also provided! Dr. Lori Setton, chair of the Biomedical Engineering Department, will come to speak at the event too. If you have any questions, please email ages@wustl.edu.

To help you prepare for networking conversations, we have compiled short bios of the professionals who are attending this event. This list of people will help to guide your thinking for the event ahead of time and formulate good questions to ask.

Name: Shiv Shah

Current Position: Consultant

Company: Slalom

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Today: Data governance, strategy, and analytics to transform and leverage data for business outcomes. Thesis: Evaluating the role of inflammation in rotator cuff tendinopathy.

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Worked at a biotech startup at the Cortex before transitioning to consulting.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Think about what your priorities are after graduate school regarding your career, life, location, family, friends, etc.

Name: Catrina Adams

Current Position: Education Director

Company: Botanical Society of America

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Current research: science teaching and learning, scientist-student partnerships, discourse analysis, online mentoring, teacher professional development. My academic background is in paleoethnobotany, a discipline that bridges biology and anthropology.

What path did you take to get to your current position?: I started by interning with the Missouri Botanical Garden while ABD (2008), then moved into a series of positions in interpretation and outdoor education. I was hired by the Botanical Society of America in 2011 as an Education Technology Coordinator and moved into the Education Director position in 2013.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Don’t be afraid to take control of your academic journey. There are so many opportunities out there that your department/academic advisor may not be aware of. You have more flexibility than you think and the best thing you can do is to seek out the kind of experience in graduate school that will best prepare you for what you want to do after you finish. It’s easy to “go with the flow” and end up very well prepared in a career or subfield you might not be that interested in for the long term. Explore your options, take a broad view, and don’t be afraid to seek experiences that are a bit outside of the box if you think they will be valuable to you in the long term.

Name:  Ken Totten

Current Position: General Manager

Company: Object Computing, Inc. (OCI)

Areas of current research (or thesis topic):  OCI focus is Internet of Things, Edge Computing, Image/Vision Classification Systems using Machine Learning, Analytics enablement through software engineering, and blockchain.

What path did you take to get to your current position?: USCG Search and Rescue Decision Support Systems, Corporate positions at MCI Telecommunications, NASDAQ, and Consulting at Anheuser Busch, Computer Science Corporation, and Object Computing, Inc.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Know where your joy comes from and understand what you are naturally good at and have a strong aptitude for (hard and soft skills).  Second piece of advice: enlist mentors through your professional journey.

Name:  Xiao Yang PhD

Current Position: Director of Machine Learning

Company: Object Computing, Inc

Areas of current research (or thesis topic):machine learning & deep learning; statistics; operations research; value driven business applications of multi-disciplinary analytics (ML, Stat, OR, Math) like product recommendations & business process optimizations.

What path did you take to get to your current position?: PhD student in Statistics at Virginia Tech; statistician at Monsanto Biotech Division; curiosity about “Big genomics data” led to machine learning and its applications to driven valuable insights from many “BigData” at Monsanto; Data Science lead at the Climate Corporation: application of ML/DL/OR for development of Climate digital product, Seed Advisor; value creation made possible with ML and other analytics; currently director of ML at OCI.

One piece of advice to graduate students: only “useful” models matter for business.

Name:  Joe Epplin

Current Position: Principal Architect; Practice Lead, Cloud Engineering

Company: Object Computing

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Cyber Security, Applied Mathematics (group/ring theory, topology, geometry, combinatorics)

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Graduate studies in theology, Graduate studies at Washington University, Automatic identification of solid geometry from 2D schematics of machine parts, Application of inverted bitmap unstructured data search open source libraries to drug discovery, ISO standard development for geometric definitions of products, Java language development, Enterprise architecture, Learning System product architecture, Large company CTO

One piece of advice to graduate students: Learn everything!

Name: Michael Hall

Current Position:  Hardware / Software Engineer

Company:  VelociData, Inc.

Current WorkC++ and Python development, software testing, implementation of network protocols, performance tuning, data analysis, collaborative design on a team

What path did you take to get to your current position?I interned at several companies to gain work experience while I was a graduate student in school seeking my Ph.D. degree.  My last internship was at VelociData, Inc., my current workplace. Several of my peers at Washington University because full-time employees of VelociData.  When I graduated, I inquired with them for a full-time position.

One piece of advice to graduate studentsInternships are a good way to gain experience in industry and meet new people.  They may be a stepping stone leading to a full-time job in your career.

 

Name: Chi Zeng

Current position: Software Engineer

Company: Google

Areas of current research: I work within Google Brain. I build tools such as TensorBoard that enable researchers and engineers to gain insight into deep learning models.

What path did you take to get to your current position?: After graduating with a BA and MS in computer science at Harvard, I worked on Google Maps. A big part of my job involved analyzing metrics and creating visualizations that uncovered performance bottlenecks. After two years, I transferred to Brain, Google’s umbrella group for deep learning. Deep learning models are intelligent, but hard to interpret. Today, I use my data science skills to make sense of complex models.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Accumulate a portfolio of projects. For each project, consider what new knowledge you learned as well as new connections you made while pursuing it.

Name: Alex Rubin

Current Position:  Sr. Technical Fellow

Company: The Boeing Company

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Aerospace Composite Materials, Structures, Manufacturing

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Product Engineer, Research Engineer, Technical Executive

One piece of advice to graduate students: Continuously learn…technologies are being developed around the World rapidly, take advantage of available challenging growth opportunities, and collaborate with technical experts within your discipline

Name: Rey Castuciano

Current Position: founder (previously ~15 years biotech experience)

Company: Table Wisdom (www.table-wisdom.org)

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Social Entrepreneurship/ Professional Development Industry

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Reinvented my career

One piece of advice to graduate students: Confucius quote: “Wisdom, compassion, and courage are the three universally recognized moral qualities of man.”

Name:  Yimin Zhang  

Current Position:  Senior Research Scientist

Company: Nestle Purina Product Technology Center

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Material science; clay minerals; polymer composites

What path did you take to get to your current position?:  Education and prior experience (formulation of composite materials) in chemical industries.  

One piece of advice to graduate students:  Learn (coursework) as much as you can.  Statistics is extremely useful

Name: Tapashi Sengupta

Current Position: Sr. Coating Scientist

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Seed treatment fundamentals

What path did you take to get to your current position?:  B.S., M.E., Ph.D in chemical engineering with specialization in Colloid and Interfacial Science for dissertation work, Post doctoral training in foodscience lab on proteins and interfaces, working in consumer products industries (personal and home care, foods, oral products) and in industrial sector. Worked in small contract research for DoE to muti-billion dollar companies till now, and enjoyed every piece of work that came along my way.  Every time, I had to learn totally new industry specific practices and technologies from the scratch, worked routinely in the learn to learn better and gain expertise, and used my basic academic training all along. Linking observations and practices from different industries to current ones always proved immensely valuable for my projects.

One piece of advice to graduate students:  Make the best use of every opportunity or job and learn as much as possible for yourself and own marketability, since it teaches us a lot and comes to use later in life although may not appear to be so at the time.  There is no substitute for proper learning, hard work and dedication coupled with smart thinking and probing behavior.

Name: Michael Crawford

Current Position: Emerging Projects Lead

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic):  Discovery of new actives for pest and pathogen control in crops

What path did you take to get to your current position?:   PhD—post-doc—small company—large company—larger company

One piece of advice to graduate students:  Ask questions–see who on (or off) campus can help you.

 

 

 

Name: James W. Taylor

Current Position: Senior Research Scientist

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic):

Production of RNA for use as a pesticide; Degrading pesticides in an environmentally-friendly manner; Modeling reaction rates of the chemistry used in glyphosate (RoundUp) production; Thesis:  Direct measurement and analysis of cyclohexadienyl oxidation.

What path did you take to get to your current position? A long and circuitous one.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Be humble and give credit where it is due.  Don’t give up, especially near the end. No one gets credit for doing 90% of a thesis.

 

 

 

Name: Erik Hawley

Current Position: Bioprocess Engineer

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic):  Fermentation, nucleic acid purification bioprocess scale-up

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Following graduate school I worked for Pacific Northwest National Laboratory where I focused on fermentation processes to produce oleaginous yeast, used as a raw material in the process of making bio-jet fuel. I then worked as a process engineer for a start-up biotech company in Oregon which made ethanol, organic acids, and specialty chemicals from cellulosic biomass. I then took my current position with Monsanto, currently Bayer, as a bioprocess engineer.

One piece of advice to graduate students:  Take advantage of any opportunity to gain practical experience in your area(s) of interest.

 

 

 

Name: Haitao Zhang

Current Position: Team lead, Biological manufacturing

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Develop manufacturing process for biological product such as nucleic acids, protein or chemical

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Corporate talent hunter

One piece of advice to graduate students: Be proactive especially in expanding your network and understand science innovation and business trend and need

 

 

 

Name: Pu Wei

Current Position: Analytical Chemist

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): analytical chemistry (mass spectrometry, liquid chromatography, etc.)

What path did you take to get to your current position? Interviews with legacy Monsanto (referred by a Monsanto employee).

One piece of advice to graduate students: networking and your resumes are very important!

 

 

 

Name:  Nathan Carter

Current Position:  Analytical Chemist

Company:  Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic):  Catalyst characterization, analytical method development for herbicide process materials and products, protein structure determination by negative stain/cryo electron microscopy

What path did you take to get to your current position?:  I earned a B.S. in Chemical Engineering from Missouri S&T in May 2010 and a Ph.D. in Chemical Engineering from Purdue in August 2015.  My doctoral research centered on the development of novel, thin-film solar cell technologies and device fabrication processes. This work required, among other skills, a great deal of material and device characterization.  Moreover, I held a role as the manager of an optoelectronic characterization facility for the duration of my graduate school tenure. My current group at Bayer recognized a need for a broader set of analytical skills outside the realm of typical analytical chemistry techniques, and I was offered a position in the group to participate on teams developing new products and product-enabling technologies throughout the product development life cycle – discovery, development, and commercial launch and production.

One piece of advice to graduate students:  Don’t be afraid to apply for positions that interest you but seem to be outside your area of expertise.  If a job sounds like something you would enjoy and would offer the opportunity to learn a new field, let the employer decide whether or not they think you’re qualified for the position; don’t make that decision for them.

 

 

 

Name: Matthew Juergens

Current Position: Analytical Chemist

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Herbicide off target movement

What path did you take to get to your current position?

I started working in the biochemistry-based lab of Professor Joeseph Jez at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center as an undergraduate while studying at Webster university. I followed him to WUSTL for one year when he became a professor. After graduating, entered a PhD program for plant biology at Michigan State University. There I studied algae biofuel production in the lab of Yair Shachar-Hill, work that consisted of metabolomics, flux analysis, analytical chemistry, and photosynthetic spectroscopy. After graduating I took a 1.5year Post Doc at the Donald Danforth Plant Science Center studying algae metabolism related to biofuel production. This position gave me experience in LCMS/MS which(along with my plant background) helped in my application for Bayer. In the spring of 2018 I started working at Monsanto(Bayer) as an analytical chemist studying dicamba off target movement.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Take as much coursework, experience opportunities, internships, and talk to as many people as you can so you can really find out what you like. Once you graduate, it’s hard to go back.

 

 

 

Name: David Rhee

Current Position: Analytical Chemist/Lab Manager

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Herbicide process development analytics

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Have Master Degree in Analytical Chemistry, worked in industry for 10+ years

One piece of advice to graduate students: Don’t just find a job. Try to find true passion.

 

 

 

Name: Cheng Zhang

Current Position: Analytical Chemist

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Provide analytical support for manufacturing

What path did you take to get to your current position?

In graduate school my research involves the synthesis and design of polymeric ionic liquid-based materials and their use in sample preparation and developing analytical tools for trace level analysis. I also worked a lot with instrumentation and getting familiar with the use of software. One year before I graduate, I worked as summer intern at AbbVie where I learned more about the pharmaceutical industry and expanded my networking. This also helped me understood what kind of candidate people are looking for in industry. In the spring of 2017 I started working as an Analytical Chemist at Monsanto (Bayer). I think my background in trace level analysis and intern experience definitely helped my application.

One piece of advice to graduate students:

Publication is very important. It is the best way to demonstrate your professional knowledge, problem solving, and writing skills. If your field takes longer time to produce publishable results, make sure you know all details about your work.

 

 

 

Name: Alex Yang

Current Position: Sr. Research Engineer

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Chemical process modeling and pilot studies

What path did you take to get to your current position? I learned process modeling at my first job and later learned how to demonstrate the processes designed on computer using pilot experiments.

One piece of advice to graduate students: It is equally important to get to know the people.

 

 

 

Name:  Ming Ren

Current Position: Chemical Engineer

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): New process technology selection, development, scale up and tech transfer. Existing process optimization.

What path did you take to get to your current position?:   Technical skills development/enrichment and Internship experiences

One piece of advice to graduate students: Identify the career path you want to pursue, and develop associated skills

 

 

 

Name: Jilei Liu

Current Position: Catalyst Scientist       

Company: Bayer Crop Science

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Heterogeneous Catalysis

What path did you take to get to your current position?

I have been in the graduate school studying Chemical Engineering with my thesis topic on heterogeneous catalysis before I joined Bayer. Now I am a research scientist in Bayer’s R&D organization. My thesis research involved a lot of hands-on work in different areas and collaboration with people. I think this experience was essential for me to be competitive in the job market

 

 

 

Name: Kathy Bernard

Current Position: CEO / Career Coach / LinkedIn Trainer

Company: WiserU, LLC

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Career and LinkedIn training and services

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Attained bachelor’s degrees in Journalism and Art (Graphic Design), worked in Advertising and Corporate Communications for years. Became a career coach in 2011.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Network like crazy, particularly at Venture Cafe (which is free) and secure internships. Internships are the number one way to land a full-time job.

Name: Cheryl Tao

Current Position: Corporate Counsel

Company: Emerson

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): data privacy and cyber security

What path did you take to get to your current position?: internship

One piece of advice to graduate students: Start effective networking as early as possible

Name: Husain Shekhani, PhD

Current Position: Senior Mechanical Engineer

Company: Bausch and Lomb – Surgical

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Ultrasonic device for cataract removal

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Post-doc at WashU

One piece of advice to graduate students:

Every student should consider how they are going to market their talents, skills, and experience.

Name: Dr Adekunle Onadipe

Current Position: Associate Research Fellow

Company: Pfizer Inc.

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Production of biotherapeutic molecules from microbial and mammalian cell culture

What path did you take to get to your current position?: I obtained my PhD in Microbiology developing selection criteria for highly productive mutants of a Streptomyces spp. After a one year post doc contract with my PhD supervisor, I joined Celltech Limited (part of which later became Lonza Biologics) initially, developing recombinant therapeutic proteins in yeasts and bacilli. I transitioned to producing antibodies and other recombinant proteins in mammalian cell culture, taking on roles with increasing responsibilities and rising to become a Principal Group Leader. After 15 years at Lonza Biologics, I joined Pfizer Ltd. in Sandwich UK and worked in the Discovery Biology group before moving to Pfizer Inc. in Chesterfield, MO. My current role enables me to use both my microbial cell culture and mammalian cell culture skills in the development of novel biotherapeutic products to enable human clinical trials.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Believe in yourself and work hard to be the best that you can be.

 

 

 

Name: Sumit Goswami

Current position in company/job title: Principal Scientist and Group Leader

Company: Pfizer

What are your areas of research? 

  • Formulation/process development and technology transfer
  • Antigen/adjuvant interaction
  • Physical and colloidal stability of suspension based formulation
  • DP handling at hospital/pharmacy setting

What path did you take to get to your current position? Finished PhD in Biochemistry (University of Tennessee, Knoxville) and then joined the biotherapeutics formulation/process development at Pfizer as a Senior Scientist.

What is one piece of advice for graduating students? Know what you want and put conscious efforts towards it.

 

 

Name: Drew Pikey

Current Position: Business Development Specialist

Company: Radialogica

Areas of current research (or thesis topic): Business Development & Analytics; Statistics & Data Analytics

What path did you take to get to your current position?: Mechanical/Sales Engineering, Technical Sales and Business Development, then finally Business Development Specialist at Radialogica.

One piece of advice to graduate students: Have a bigger picture in mind but remain flexible to opportunities along the way.