Amanda Harrington
Email: harria@UIC.edu
Degree: PhD
Telephone: 312-996-5608
Employer: University of Illinois at Chicago
Chicago, Illinois  60612


Primary Employer: College/University; Other N/A
Scientific Specialty: Clinical microbiology or immunology; Other N/A
Job Title: Director, Clinical Microbiology Laboratory
Years in position: 1
Day to day responsibilities:
My day-to-day responsibilities include consulting with clinicians and answering inquiries; reviewing clinical cases; problem-solving with medical technologists and laboratory directors; administrative duties and attending meetings; evaluating new equipment and testing; staying current with the literature from our field; teaching medical students, residents, and fellows; working on research projects.

What do you love about your job?
I love my job because it is very dynamic. It’s never the same day twice. We see new and interesting cases every day in the laboratory. However, microbes are not static beings. They change constantly, they don’t read the textbooks, and new organisms are continually emerging. The microbiology lab is often the sentinel for new infectious agents, and I love getting to problem-solve with other clinicians in a team based approach. It’s also a very exciting time to be a member of the field of clinical microbiology. From multi-organism panels that identify infectious agents in about an hour to microbiome projects, what we know about the human relationship with microbes is quickly expanding.

Degrees, experience, license(s), and skills required for position:
To be the director of a microbiology lab at an academic medical center a terminal degree (PhD or MD or equivalent) is required. In addition, a post-graduate fellowship is required, either as a 1 year microbiology fellowship after a pathology residency or a 2 year microbiology fellowship after PhD. Board certification is almost always required. In the US, certification is provided by the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education (ACGME), the American Board of Medical Microbiology (ABMM), the American Board of Bioanalysis, and others.

Tips/Advice for how to secure a job in microbiology upon graduation:
The best advice I have for someone who wants to pursue a career in microbiology is to gain some first-hand knowledge/experience of the area in which you are interested. For those interested in becoming a medical technologist or laboratory director, seek out the available training programs and talk to the trainees or directors about their experience. Laboratory directors and medical technologists are often willing to spend a few minutes talking about their lab and daily operations. Ask your local laboratory if you can come for a visit or spend a short time as a volunteer. Many hospitals have pathways set up specifically for these requests. For those interested in the research side, the best thing to do is to get involved in research as early as possible. Many investigators welcome volunteers into their labs, and those opportunities can roll over into part-time (and sometimes paid) research technician positions. Whatever you want to pursue, talk to the people in the field and get involved.