Alumna Melody Alyssa Lopez earned her Bachelor of Science degree in Biological Science in 2004. She is currently working as an Analytical Scientist at a pharmaceutical research company. Here is her story...
Melody, what was your original major and/or career plan?
My original major was Biology; however I did not have a specific career plan for some time. Shortly prior to graduating I decided that I wanted to be involved in research, and began looking for jobs that were research related.
What further education have you pursued?
I have not pursued any further education since graduating with my BS in Biology, in 2004.
What was, and how did you find, your first job after graduating?
A month or two before graduating I began to search for positions available for Biological Science majors with little experience in the research field. It was not until two months after graduating, and sending out approximately 80 resumes, that I was hired at the company I now work for.
How was your education from SDCC helpful to you?
It was helpful in that the professors were available for us students. They were always very patient in explaining concepts and material related to our studies. The access to the numerous library databases were also helpful in learning of the most current and advanced scientific studies and ideas being shared in the research and medical field.
Was there any specific individual who helped shaped your career choice?
Dr. Richard Peterson was helpful in suggesting a few different places to apply to [for employment], relating to what I'd hoped to do upon graduation.
If given a chance, would you do anything differently?
If I had the chance to do anything differently while I was in college, I would have definitely pursued an internship as early as possible. An internship would have provided much needed experience directly related to the research field, specifically clinical trial research. The internship would have also exposed me to more advanced lab techniques than college was able to provide.
What advice would you give other students who are interested in your field?
I would advise future biological Science graduates to get an internship as soon as they are eligible. Some of the most valuable skills are gained through hands-on training and experience. I would also advice students to investigate their potential future career of interest, talking to people in the field, and researching the career online to gain a clear understanding of what they will be involved in and what will be required of them when they work in that career.
Tell us about your career now.
I am currently working as an Analytical Scientist at a pharmaceutical research company. We analyze samples (blood, plasma, urine, etc.) and test articles (experimental drugs in a solution or suspension). I work in the Formulations Chemistry department, and analyze test articles. This is a detailed process and involves running the test articles on an HPLC (High Performance Liquid Chromatography) instrument, with a UV (Ultra Violet) detector. It is challenging and rewarding in that most everything is initiated in trial and error, and then evolves into a detailed, rugged, repeatable method. We are required to read clinical trial protocols, create in-house methods for analyzing every compound (drug), then analyze client's samples.
I enjoy participating in this career knowing that we are a part of a cutting-edge field that is essentially vital to the health of the world. We have been a part of numerous successful drugs, and there are many more still to come.
Thank you for taking the time for this interview. Is there anything else you would like to tell us about yourself?
I was married about one year after graduating from college and my husband and I have purchased a home. We are enjoying married life and enjoy serving the Lord together.
~Melody (Smith) Lopez, Bachelor of Science in Biological Science, 2004