Senior Associate Scientist at Pfizer
My experience as a Chemistry student and as an undergraduate researcher helped me to hone my scientific and interpersonal skills.
What is your current (or most recent) job, what does a typical day look like, and how did UConn prepare you for this role?
In my current role I serve as an Analytical Scientist at Pfizer, one of the world’s premier biopharmaceutical companies. I work in Drug Safety R&D – a group responsible for assessing the safety of various compounds across the different phases of drug development within Pfizer. My main responsibilities include assaying compounds, as well as developing and validating analytical methods used to assay compounds used in our non-clinical studies.
A typical day involves me working in the lab developing analytical methods to assess the potency and stability of our various small molecule and biological formulations. Sometimes, I work from home to write up scientific reports, review colleagues’ projects or reports. These reports are usually a part of the main reports that would eventually become part of the regulatory submission for an Investigational New Drug (IND) or other regulatory applications.
Tell us about your experience as a Chemistry student at UConn.
During my time as a Chemistry student at UConn, I sought to get involved in research. I was fortunate enough to work in the Angeles-Boza lab. I was one of his first students since he had just started his lab at UConn. Dr. Angeles-Boza was one of the faculty mentors who influenced my ability to solve problems, which set a foundation for how I approach things in my current role at Pfizer.
In addition, he encouraged me to build my communication skills by presenting my research at the on-campus research symposium. My experience as a Chemistry student and as an undergraduate researcher helped me to hone my scientific and interpersonal skills.
The collaborative effort in the lab with other graduate students and post-doc (Dr. Christian Samanamu) helped me become a successful team member in the lab and helped lay the foundation for working on a cross-functional team in my current role. Dr. Samanamu and Dr. Angeles-Boza were very supportive of my post-graduation goals by assisting me in putting together a resume and sending me positions befitting of my skills.
Can you tell us about your experience post-graduation?
After graduating from UConn, it took me about a year to secure my first scientific role. I started working as a radiopharmaceutical manufacturing chemist at Cardinal Health. This experience introduced me to the pharmaceutical industry and exposed me to working in a regulatory environment, where the products had direct impacts on patients. After about 3.5 years, I transitioned into the R&D environment at Pfizer and I’ve been able to work on even more products that have more encompassing impacts on patients.
What is one piece of advice that you would give to current students?
For current students, take advantage of all the resources available to you. Get involved in undergraduate research as soon as you can. Even if you are not interested in pursuing a graduate degree in chemistry, the experience will be invaluable to you. You will be able to learn how to present scientific data, collaborate with a team, and learn other interpersonal skills.
Also, I know the chemistry program is rigorous. Take a minute to have fun, enjoy the UConn community at large, get involved in clubs and organizations, and get to know your classmates. Your undergraduate experience cannot be replicated, so enjoy it while you’re there.