The Chem Coach Carnival & National Chemistry Week

Over at See Arr Oh‘s blog Just Like Cooking, a blog carnival has gotten underway in celebration of the 25th National Chemistry Week. A blog carnival is a way to get a variety of people (bloggers and others!) to contribute on a specific topic, which in this case is The Chem Coach.

The spark for the topic was to provide an “online repository of chemistry job success stories” to help people coming into the field learn about what careers/jobs are possible. While I view my story as still being written, I have found a position that is challenging – with all the pros and cons that entails.

Current job: I am the President and Chief Operating Officer at Quintessence Biosciences, a cancer drug development company.

What I do in a standard work day: Every day is different. In a small organization, I serve many functions, from managing the science to meeting with potential pharmaceutical company partners to trying to fit as much science into as few dollars as possible.

What kind of schooling/training/experience helped me get here: I got an BS in chemistry at the University of Richmond and a PhD in organic chemistry at the University of Wisconsin Madison. I was the first employee of this company when we started and have been able to learn a lot on the job as we’ve taken the science from early stage discovery to clinical trials.

How does chemistry inform my work: One of the reasons I fell in love with organic chemistry was the ability to learn a language that allowed me to not only communicate but create. Working as pat of a bigger team, I was able to answer questions none of us would have been able to ask alone. While I haven’t “done” chemistry in more than a decade, drug development has the same underpinnings of learning, creating and questioning.

A unique, interesting, or funny anecdote about my career: I came to Wisconsin to get my PhD and counted down each of those five winters….only to find myself still here seventeen years later having had an amazing experience. I try to remember to be open to opportunity when and where it presents itself.


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