Speakers' Bureau Directory: Horvat

Rebecca Horvat
Degree: Ph.D.
Employer: University of Kansas Medical Center, Dept of Pathology
Kansas City, Kansas  66160


Primary Employer: Diagnostic Laboratory; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job Title: Professor of Pathology , Director of Clinical Microbiology and Molecular Labs
Years in position: 21
Presentation Type: N/A
Video Call Type:N/A
Day to day responsibilities:
I direct the operation of the University of Kansas Hospital diagnostic Clinical Microbiology/Immunology/Molecular Laboratories. In this position I oversee operations such as examination of specimens, guide the selection of testing methods, and assure clinical relevance of results. In this role I also educate and collaborate with various healthcare teams. I assure that results are integrated with the medical information systems in a way that allows accurate communication between laboratory and physicians. I am responsible for the quality of results and compliance with federal state and local regulations which include ensuring competency of staff and accuracy of lab results.

What do you love about your job?
There are several things I enjoy about my job. The first one is the investigative process of finding out the identification of an infectious agent. During this process a number of different technologies are used including biochemical and molecular techniques and more recently proteomic by use of mass spectrometry. Another thing I like about my job is that I am continuously learning. New discoveries, technology and knowledge continue to help us identify microbes. I also like being a part of a team both with the laboratory but also with clinical teams that work to diagnose and treat patients.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
I attended a 4 year college and finished with a dual degree in Biology and Chemistry. During my senior year, I applied to a graduate program in Microbiology. I was accepted into a PhD program and finished my PhD after 5 years of study. I then went on to finish two different fellowships. The first one was to study the molecular characteristics of the HIV virus and the second one was to train in clinical diagnostic testing using molecular assays. After completing these programs, I then obtained a faculty position in which I have continued to learn new ideas and help others to learn and grow in their careers.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
The best way of getting a job in microbiology is to gain as much experience as possible. Start by learning the basics of the field. Then move on to taking advanced courses and seek work opportunities that include microbiology projects and techniques. It is critical to gain experience in writing and investigation skills. Learn how to use references wisely by verifying all sources and understand the limitations of published material. Scientists must communicate their work to both the public and other scientists. Thus, it is valuable to learn the skills of verbal and written communication. Other characteristics needed for securing a job in this field is to be flexible and open to working in areas that might not be your first choice. Use these opportunities to learn and add to your experience. Eventually you will find areas of microbiology that you are passionate about and motivates you to work hard.