Ryan Saffert
Degree: PhD
Telephone: 608-358-6506
Employer: Beckman Coulter
Chaska, Minnesota  55318


Who is your primary employer?: Other; Other Private Company
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job title: Senior Development Scientist
How many years have you worked in this position?: 2 years
Describe your day-to-day responsibilities:
I am responsible for directing a team of scientists tasked with developing and optimizing immunoassays used for the diagnosis of multiple clinical conditions, with a focus on infectious diseases. My time is split between planning and conducting experiments, analyzing data, planning project milestones to ensure the team stays on track, and drafting reports both at the project and departmental level. Additionally, I provide technical support for other business units as needed, including manufacturing and customer support.

What do you love about your job?
There are numerous aspects of my current position that make it highly enjoyable. The most impactful is the ability to use my science background to develop tests which directly impact peoples' daily lives. There is nothing more gratifying then seeing a diagnostic test that you developed come to fruition, and observing its use to better patients lives. I also enjoy the ability to work with cross-functional teams with individuals having various expertise. I can confidently say that with such a diverse background, I am constantly learning from what each brings to the table.

Describe degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for your position:
My research and development colleagues have educational backgrounds ranging from bachelors to PhD degrees, in fields such as biology, microbiology, chemistry, and engineering. Directly applicable to what I work on, general knowledge of biological processes, and in particular antibody/antigen interactions, protein chemistry, and immunoassay design, are important. It is essential that individuals have the ability to communicate effectively and work with a diverse set of colleagues. My area of focus is on infectious diseases, particularly viral pathogens. As such, knowledge of these pathogens, their lifecycle, and their immunological impact on the host are important to know and understand. General laboratory knowledge is essential, including good laboratory practices and thorough documentation within laboratory notebooks. Finally, the ability to think critically about complex problems and not lose sight of the big picture allows for success.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
For undergraduates, taking advantage of opportunities to conduct research, whether as a summer project or throughout the academic year, will provide them valuable experience that they may not get within the classroom. Thinking critically, applying what you read about in textbooks into practice, honing your laboratory stills, and taking ownership of a project all will help you once you start looking for jobs. For those who go on to additional degrees, build upon the previously above listed examples, but also take advantage of collaborating with others outside your direct project. Once entering the workforce, it would be extremely rare for you to work alone. Learning how to work together as a team, especially one in which you have individuals with varying expertise, is essential to be effective. Finally, take the opportunity to mentor junior scientists as you gain more experience in the field.