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Alumni Corner

To our alumni:
This alumni corner is set up so that current undergraduate students at Binghamton can find out more about varied careers and paths toward those careers that you have taken. If you are willing to share your experience, please contact annatan@binghamton.edu.

This message comes from SUSAN GRANAT who received her M.A. in Biology in December 2000 and her M.A.T. (Master of Arts in Teaching) with concentration in Biology in May 2001.

I was always interested in Biology and I thought that the only career for me was in medicine. I worked hard in school so I could be admitted into a good college in preparation for that career. During my college years, however, I did an independent research project correlating certain genetic mutations with the onset of Alzheimer’s disease. I enjoyed it so much so that when it was time for graduation I was not sure if I wanted to go to medical school or graduate school. I learned a lot about what it would be like to be a female surgeon trying to raise a family through a program I participated in, but since I knew relatively little about life in research I needed to get some experience before I made a decision.

After college I was offered jobs at Mount Sinai Medical Center and Albert Einstein School of Medicine as a lab technician largely due to the strength of my laboratory skills I had listed on my resume. I chose to work at Mount Sinai, where I studied the correlation of point mutations in cancer genes with the onset of cancer. It was a satisfying job, but the 4-hour daily commute forced me to quit. I was immediately offered a job at Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, the lab that Dr. James Watson is the director of, based on a resume I had sent them months earlier. It was extremely rewarding to get the opportunity to work there, as well as to be working as a technician on the Human Genome Project. My tasks included sequencing the DNA, analyzing the quality of the sequences, and filling in the gaps to link segments. Finally, after two years of working in the field of research, I had enough information to make my career choice and I entered graduate school at Binghamton University in the master’s program for Biology.

My master’s thesis research project was based on the activity of enzymes in mung bean seedlings. I chose this project because it gave me the opportunity to work with proteins, which was another area of interest I had besides DNA. Like many of the graduate students in the department I was also a teaching assistant for a variety of courses. The range of courses helped to strengthen my credentials for my other career interest, teaching. The master’s degree in Biology, the master’s degree in Education, my TA experience, and being a Project Coordinator who helped develop informal education workshops to interest girls in science all contributed to my background.

Earning two master’s degrees at one time was stressful and I knew that being a high school teacher would be the same so I decided to stay in research the first year after graduate school. I returned to Cold Spring Harbor Laboratory, but this time I was a technician in a lab that studied apoptosis. My daily activities included anything from performing northern blots to doing microinjections of plasmids I helped to make. The variety of laboratory skills I had gained throughout my education and work experiences is what helped me get my first teaching job, as well as my current job. While my student teaching experience in Endwell, NY was extremely rewarding, my teaching experience on Long Island was not; I stopped teaching high school Biology after the second year.

I still wanted to do something related to Biology, so now I work for a company that does clinical trials for pharmaceutical companies. My company sets up the studies and analyzes the blood, urine, and other samples. The company also maintains and organizes the data. The department I work in, Project Management, monitors the studies and communicates with the pharmaceutical companies and doctors’ offices. While I chose not to apply for a laboratory-based job, that is an option for someone who prefers to be at the bench. This is a rewarding and interesting job, one which science majors might want to consider for a career choice.

I have had successes in different jobs that a student graduating with a degree in biology or biochemistry could do, and am happy to share information with students at Binghamton. If you have any questions or would like me to look at your resume, please feel free to contact me at susan_jg@yahoo.com.

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Last Updated: 5/5/09