Daniel Lybrand (Joined the program in 2015)
I performed an internship at Synthetic Genomics, Inc. in La Jolla, California from June to September 2017. During this time, I evaluated various methods of growing photosynthetic microbes for accumulation of proteins of interest and continued this work by improving existing methods for protein extraction and purification. I also investigated methods of cleaving and isolating protein-bound small molecules. The products I worked with have numerous commercial and industrial applications as well as significant economic value. I was able to test the effectiveness of methods at lab scale and also to assess the feasibility of scale-up for industrial production. While my assignment was in the Phototrophic Support department, I also worked closely with a number of scientists in other research departments as well as members of the Marketing and Downstream Processing divisions.
Brian St. Aubin (Joined the program in 2015)
My internship during the summer of 2017 with 3Bar Biologics in Columbus, Ohio was a rewarding and exciting experience. 3Bar Biologics is a relatively young company that develops products to modify the microbiome of agricultural soils to improve crop productivity. My role at 3Bar involved improvement and validation of their bacterial delivery system that farmers use to boost crop yield. Working at a relatively early stage company provided me with exposure to a large number of activities during the internship. I conducted research, helped others with their projects, streamlined workflows, set up new equipment, established new and modified existing protocols, participated in collaborations with academics, visited a farm where the product is being put to use, presented findings to management, and contributed my scientific prospective to marketing. Interning for a small company that is part of a startup-incubator provided me with an insider’s view of small company culture and operations. In addition to learning about a new area of science and technology, one of the highlights was getting to meet a wide variety of people inside and outside of the company and expand my professional network.
Colleen Friel (Joined the program in 2014)
I did an internship with Spartan Innovations at Michigan State University from September 2015 to April 2016. I worked on a team composed of business students and STEM PhD to assess the commercialization potential of technologies developed by MSU faculty. We identified possible applications for the technologies, conducted market research for these applications, and ultimately determined the viability of the technology for licensing or commercial production.
Bryan Leong (Joined the program in 2014)
I performed an internship at Synthetic Genomics in La Jolla, California from May 23rd to August 12th, 2016. My project involved developing and refining methods used to extract and quantify compounds of interest in multiple phototrophic organisms. The goal of the internship was to assess whether the selected strain would be viable for commercial development. I successfully developed and refined the technique involved in extracting the compound of interest, in addition to quantifying the amount of the compound produced in that organism. Additionally, I worked on characterizing DNA binding targets of different proteins of interest that the company had identified in the course of their strain development. This project is being continued by other scientists at SGI. Overall, the internship was a great experience, and I learned about the atmosphere and collaboration model that exists at SGI. Each of the teams that I observed worked together closely to solve the problems that they encountered. It was an enlightening experience, and has better prepared me for a potential career in industry.
Tomomi Takeuchi (Joined the program in 2014)
I completed my industrial internship at Abbott Laboratories in Wiesbaden, Germany from June 6th to August 26th, 2016. Abbott Laboratories seek to advance cutting-edge science and technologies with a potential to significantly improve human health and health care. For my internship, I was in the Wiesbaden Abbott Diagnostics Division, which is the major manufacturing site of Abbott diagnostic products in Europe, including immunoassay-based test kits for the detection of hepatitis A, B, and C, HIV and Toxoplasma gondii induced antibodies*. Within the division, I was in the department of Investigation and Customer Support (ICS), where I gained experience working with a team of scientists to troubleshoot manufacturing problems relating to its array of diagnostic kits in an industrial setting. I learned that ensuring and controlling the quality of products is an essential process to the company since compromised diagnostic products have many severe implications. Therefore, ICS worked closely with the quality system to find the root cause of the observed issue and implement a corrective action to ensure that the problem does not reoccur. I learned that communications between different groups are essential in achieving a common goal, and overall, it was a great opportunity to experience and get insights into how biotech industries operate.