Speakers' Bureau Directory: Lockhart

Shawn Lockhart
Degree: PhD
Employer: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Atlanta, Georgia  30333


Primary Employer: Agricultural/Veterinary; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Public Health; Other N/A
Job Title: Director, Fungal Reference Unit
Years in position: 5
Presentation Type: N/A
Video Call Type:N/A
Day to day responsibilities:
My day to day responsibilities includes: 1) approval of the testing performed in our CLIA-approved fungal reference laboratory; 2) overseeing research pertaining to fungal disease surveillance and antifungal susceptibility testing; 3) producing manuscripts, presentations and reports; 4) answering questions from public health laboratories; 5) participating in conference calls pertaining to fungal disease outbreaks. Any one or all of these duties may happen on any single day. The most interesting thing about public health microbiology is that you never know when an event will take place that will make you drop everything in order to formulate and carry out a response.

What do you love about your job?
What I love about my job is that the fungi we study are so darn interesting. Fungi do not read the textbooks and do not always present themselves as we expect them to. This could be anything from a new disease presentation, to an old disease in an unlikely population, to a species never known to cause disease infecting patients. With public health response, you never know when you are going to be called upon to respond to an outbreak.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
My position requires a PhD as well as a strong background in clinical microbiology. I received my position because of my two year fellowship in clinical microbiology and my eligibility for the ABMM (which I received). Much of what I know about public health was learned on the job through experience. However, there is public health training through fellowships and internships.
The skills necessary for my job were clinical mycology experience, antifungal susceptibility testing, fungal research experience, good writing skills, strong leadership skills, and probably the most important skill is the ability to multitask, especially under pressure.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
My biggest tip would be to start before you graduate. Try to get an internship or a research position in a microbiology laboratory, even if you have to work for free. I have 1-2 students working for me every summer, some with pay, some for free, to get the experience they need on their resume and to get some of the practical skills that will be useful later on in their career. Even if you start out by washing dishes, pay attention to what is going on in the laboratory, ask for background reading on the projects in the lab, and ask if anyone needs some cheap help with their project. ‘Go-getters’ always succeed!