The end of the semester—and the end of senior year—really wound down quickly. The biotechnology practical went smoothly, though the rest is somewhat of a blur: thesis presentations, finals, graduation, moving from New Jersey to Massachusetts, and starting a new job at a biotechnology company within two weeks of leaving Roger Williams. For the past two months, I’ve been working in a cell sciences lab in process development, where we run experiments with small-scale bioreactors. Our experiments are meant to mirror the manufacturing process for therapeutic molecules that are produced by genetically engineered mammalian cells. The upper and lower limits of production parameters, such as pH and temperature, are tested in small 1- to 2-L bioreactors (as opposed to much larger reactors found in manufacturing) to determine best and worst case scenarios. It’s pretty complicated, and there’s plenty that I still don’t understand! I’ve learned so much since I started—not only about biotechnology, but about engineering, the pharmaceutical industry, and even safety standards (I have to wear non-slip shoes with a steel toe, and all employees are required to participate in periodic safety training modules). As many of my coworkers have told me, the only way to prepare for a job in such a competitive, fast-paced industry is experience; the skill set, let alone the ins and outs of working for a large company, is completely unique. But in no way does that devalue a collegiate science education, especially research. Comfort in the lab and problem-solving are key (not to mention a working knowledge of major biochemical processes, glycolysis and the citric acid cycle, which are consulted on a regular basis). Overall, I’ve had a great experience so far, there’s always something new and exciting happening—especially when the pressure’s on.