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A day in the life of a researcher

By: Roche Life Science

Posted: January 01, 2018 | Career & Lifestyle

What are you working on?

I’m working in Life Science R&D where we have about 10 different projects going on. I’m part of a five-person team working on a new tool that detects rare mutations and low copy number variants. Specifically, I’m focused on reagent formulation, and how the reagents affect the performance.

How do you spend a typical day?

I do a lot of testing of parameters and concentrations for the reagents that will one day be used with a new platform. I usually run one experiment a day that takes a couple of hours to set up, and then a few more to run. I look at how small changes make a difference in the performance of the assay, and analyze that data.

Do you spend more time in the lab, or at meetings?

In the lab, definitely. I have about one departmental meeting a day, and the rest of my time is spent in the lab or at my desk performing data analysis.

What brought you to the role?

I got my biochemistry degree earlier this year from UCLA. I’ve always been interested in life science because it’s an important, meaningful field. I’d interned with Roche for a few years, and really enjoyed the experience. I’ve been considering a PhD, but there are also some very interesting masters programs in fields like biotech management. I thought it was important to spend a few years working in industry to broaden my horizons before I decide what I want to do next. But grad school is definitely part of my plan.

What is the best thing about your role?

I love learning brand new stuff. Being part of R&D, I’m seeing techniques and technologies that aren’t commercially available, so I’d never have a chance to learn about them in school. I have a great team that’s super helpful, very knowledgeable, and encouraging. It’s been a great opportunity.

What’s the worst thing about your role?

It’s very repetitive work. I’m basically running the same tests day after day with only minor changes. But it’s important to look at the grander scheme and understand the impact that these small changes can have on the future of diagnostics.

What is the most unexpected thing that people might not know about your role?

First, there’s a lot of time spent on the computer conducting data analysis. There are a lot of technical aspects — the software for data analysis, the unfamiliar equipment in development — that are beyond my core strength. There’s a steep learning curve there.

What has been most interesting?

I come from academia, which is rooted in basic science research (to determine how things work mechanistically, for understanding’s sake). Working in industry is completely different. It’s very interdisciplinary. I had never really been exposed to the business side of things, even during my first internship at Roche. Now I’m getting a better understanding of how customer needs drive the innovation. It’s very interesting to see things from the perspectives of the sales and marketing departments.

If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?

I minored in music, so a role in the music industry would be intriguing.


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