Watch Industry Engagement Discussion

Panel Abstracts:

Industry Engagement:

During any student’s career, the steps following graduation provide a unique opportunity to consider multiple employment avenues. With the exponential growth of biotechnological research worldwide, careers in industry have created a multitude of opportunities ranging from research and development to management. In this session, our panelists offer a range of experiences, including positions in quality compliance, research and development, and product management. From these experienced panelists, we hope the audience will engage in discussions involving topics such as the hiring process, what types of opportunities are available, and how to best prepare for a career in industry.

Science Communication:

In recent years, there has been a shift from traditional one-field experimental efforts to collaborative initiatives—where working across the interface of scientific disciplines is both expected and highly valued. As developing scientists, the formal training we most often receive does not offer insight on the alternatives skills required for navigating interdisciplinary efforts. To address this need, the voices of the disciplines which surround and permeate modern science must be included in the conversation. This panel discussion will provide an opportunity to engage with professionals across different backgrounds, including Leadership, Communication, and Education, to critically examine and improve various aspects of science from their unique perspectives.

Speaker Bios:

Industry Engagement Panelists:

JESSIE JIN: Xiaohe (Jessie) Jin is a research scientist in a local start-up company Atom Bioworks.  She is developing rapid lateral flow diagnostics for infectious disease (SARS-CoV-2) and cancer. Jessie earned her bachelor’s degree from China Pharmaceutical University in Pharmacy.  Jessie did her undergraduate research with Prof. Juan Zhang on optimization and affinity analysis of antibody G7hAb. After graduation, she joined Prof. Jonathan S. Lindsey’s group at the North Carolina State University to pursue her Ph.D. in chemistry.  Since then, she has been working on the identification, cloning, and heterologous expression of the gene cluster(s) related to the biosynthesis of tolyporphins.  In 2021, Jessie graduated from NC State and joined Atom Bioworks.

JUSTIN YOUNGBLOOD: W. Justin Youngblood earned a Ph.D. from the NC State Chemistry Department in 2005, with Prof. Jonathan S. Lindsey, working on the stepwise synthesis of novel phthalocyanine and porphyrin macromolecules and metallocomplexes.  Prior to NCSU, Justin had worked in industry, in drug discovery as an experimental biochemist (enzymology) at Axys Pharmaceuticals in the CA bay area. After NCSU, Justin enjoyed a post-doctoral fellowship sponsored by the American Chemical Society to work Penn State University under Prof. Thomas Mallouk, studying photocatalytic water splitting.  Justin served as a professor of Organic Chemistry at the University of North Texas (UNT) until 2015 when he made the jump to industry and relocated to work at the Juncos manufacturing site of Amgen Manufacturing Limited (AML) in Puerto Rico. At Amgen, Justin works in Quality Assurance as part of Amgen’s post-market surveillance program to ensure the quality and safety of Amgen’s biologic and small molecule medicines and combination (drug/device) products. This work engages a wide range of chemistry, biochemistry and engineering principles with an understanding of modern biopharmaceutical manufacturing processes to assure the safe and continuous provision of our medicines to every patient, every time.

SAMANTHA CARPENTER: A Virginia native, Samantha Carpenter received her BS in Chemistry from Lynchburg College in 2013. Upon graduation, she moved to Raleigh, NC where she completed her PhD in chemistry at NC State University under the direction of Prof. Gavin J Williams, where her research focused on enzyme engineering to produce natural product analogs. After receiving her PhD in 2018, Sam joined BASF as a participant in the rotational PhD Leadership Development Program.  Her rotations included roles in product formulation in Beachwood, Ohio, process engineering in McIntyre, Georgia, and project and technology management in Research Triangle Park, NC. She remains at BASF and currently leads the team of Supply Chain Planners supporting the US Crop Protection business based out of RTP, NC. Sam resides in Holly Springs, NC with her husband (Bennett), son (Oliver, 6mo), dog (Izzy), and cat (Hobbs).

Denis Fourches: Denis Fourches, Ph.D/ is currently the senior director of Data Science & Modeling at Oerth Bio. He leads a team of experts in bioinformatics, computational chemistry, cheminformatics, molecular modeling, and data analytics to design and optimize protein degraders (PROTACs) for agriculture applications. Previously, he was an assistant professor at NC State University in the department of chemistry and the bioinformatics research center. His research was dedicated to the development and application of cheminformatics methods to characterize, visualize, and predict dynamic protein-ligand interactions. He published more than 80 papers and 5 book chapters in the fields of cheminformatics and molecular modeling. Fourches is also a resident member of the Scientific Advisory Committee on Alternative Toxicological Methods (SACATM) for the US National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences (NIEHS).

Science Communication Panelists:

DEBORAH ACKER: Dr. Deborah Acker currently serves as the Director for the Shelton Leadership Center with primary responsibilities for sustaining the department through quality programming, leading the board of advisors, fund development, and special projects related to grants and contracts. She is a teaching instructor within University College at North Carolina State University. Her administrative responsibilities include oversight of unit operations for all budgets and supervision over program areas. As an Affiliate member in the Graduate Faculty in Comparative Biomedical Sciences, Dr. Acker teaches a course in interdisciplinary leadership, as well as being a part of two grants to establish both an undergraduate and graduate minor in interdisciplinary biomedical team sciences. She is also a PI for a foundation grant with Dogwood Health Trust. The Shelton Leadership Center exists under the Office of the Provost and is a University of North Carolina System Center. 

DAVID BERUBE: David M. Berube is a Professor of Communication at North Carolina State University with an emphasis in science and technology communication. He is an affiliated professor in environmental studies and science and technology studies as well. He has a background in biology, psychology, and communication, esp. science communication and rhetorical studies of science. He received his doctorate in 1990 from NYU. He teaches graduate seminars in risk communication, hazard communication, pandemic communication, climate change communication, and social media. He serves on multiple national and international task forces, councils, centers, etc., dealing with science and emerging technologies and the public sphere. He reviews federal grants for the NSF and others and has received over $15 million in funding over the decade. He completed a 4-year $1.5 million NSF grant on how the public understands complex toxicological information on nanoparticles. He is a CoPI on the NNCI RTNN 10-year grant and directs the assessment of the labs under the grant on the campuses of UNC-CH, Duke, and NCSU.

M. JAYNE FLEENER: Dr. Fleener has had many different experiences throughout her long career. She has studied philosophy where she focused on alternative logics for artificial intelligence for early computer science applications, taught Advanced Placement computer science and calculus at the high school level, and was an early adopter of chaos mathematics and complexity theories for education and educational research methods. She began her higher education career as a mathematics teacher educator at the University of Oklahoma (where she also served as the Title IX Compliance committee chair and chair of the Athletic Council). She left OU to become dean at LSU (Louisiana State University) College of Education and then came to NC State as dean of their College of Education. Since 2015 when she returned full-time to teaching and research, Dr. Fleener has been working with futurists, focusing on developing futures literacy and social transformation for new ways of thinking. Her research spans a variety of fields including mathematics, mathematics education, teacher education, adult education, and futures. She has her undergraduate degree in philosophy from Indiana University, and three graduate degrees from UNC-Chapel Hill including a masters in philosophy, an MAT in mathematics, and a PhD in mathematics education. She is a boundary spanner and committed to working across fields for future transformation.

FLORA MEILLEUR: Flora Meilleur is a structural biologist specializing in protein chemistry and neutron crystallography, and serves as an instrument scientist on the IMAGINE and MaNDI instruments (HFIR CG-4D and SNS BL-11B) at Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL). Meilleur received her PhD in biophysics from the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) and Université Grenoble Alpes (Grenoble, France) in 2004. After graduation, she served as instrument scientist on the LADI diffractometer at the Institut Laue Langevin (ILL). She joined ORNL in 2005 and has held a joint faculty appointment with the Biochemistry department of North Carolina State University since 2007. She is an associate professor since 2015. In 2009, Meilleur established a university consortium that secured NSF funding to build the IMAGINE instrument at HFIR. She served as lead scientist on IMAGINE 2009-2017, building, commissioning and delivering the instrument into the user program in 2013. She supports and collaborates with users to elucidate enzymatic mechanisms using neutron diffraction. Her own research focuses on cellulose degrading enzymes, including the recently discovered lytic polysaccharide monooxygenases. Graduate students and post-doctoral fellows working with her use small angle X-ray/neutron scattering, X-ray/neutron crystallography, DFT calculations and isotopic labeling techniques to study the structure, function and dynamics of these systems. She has co-organized and chaired neutron focused sessions at international meetings, and since 2010 has organized and led an annual workshop entitled Neutrons in Structural Biology at ORNL. She served as a member of the SNS/HFIR user committee (SHUG) from 2007 to 2009 and served two terms as a member-at-large of the NSSA between 2008 and 2012. Meilleur was appointed as a co-editor for Journal of Applied Crystallography in 2016 and elected as the Secretary of the Neutron Scattering Society of America in 2019.

Keynote Speaker:

Christopher Chang

Christopher J. Chang is the Class of 1942 Chair Professor of Chemistry and Molecular and Cell Biology at the University of California, Berkeley, and Faculty Scientist at Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory. He graduated with B.S. and M.S. degrees from Caltech in 1997, working with Prof. Harry Gray, spent a year as a Fulbright scholar with Dr. Jean-Pierre Sauvage, and earned his Ph.D. from MIT in 2002 with Prof. Dan Nocera. After postdoctoral studies at MIT with Prof. Steve Lippard, he joined the faculty at UC Berkeley in 2004. Research in the Chang laboratory focuses on the study of metals and redox-active molecules in biology and energy, focusing on the development of activity-based sensing and proteomics probes and catalysts and applying them to questions in neuroscience, metabolism, and sustainable synthesis.

Keynote Lecture Abstract:

“Activity-based sensing and proteomics platforms to decipher single-atom signaling”

Abstract:  Traditional strategies for developing selective imaging reagents rely on molecular recognition and static lock-and-key binding to achieve high specificity. We are advancing an alternative approach to chemical probe design, termed activity-based sensing, in which we exploit inherent differences in chemical reactivity as a foundation for distinguishing between chemical analytes that are similar in shape and size within complex biological systems. This presentation will focus on activity-based sensing to visualize dynamic fluxes of transition metals and reactive oxygen species and their signal/stress contributions to living systems, along with activity-based proteomics to identify novel targets and pathways that these emerging classes of chemical signals regulate.