An alum of the 2021 SMDP Biotech Scholar cohort, Shakyra Richardson,PhD, is a Research and Development trainee for Merck’s KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany GOglobal Rotational Program. The program allows recent graduates to participate in 3 rotations over 24 months in a specific business sector of the company (Healthcare, Life Sciences or Electronics). The goal of the program is to strengthen early career potential, bring innovative idea to the company, and allow the graduate to make the most of their talent while gaining international experience and eventually progress into key positions within the company. For her first rotation, she is working with the In-Vitro Research and Development team to improve biosafety testing assays.
I obtained my PhD in Biomedical Science with a focus in Microbiology and Immunology from Morehouse School of Medicine, Atlanta, GA in May of 2022. My academic path was filled with many highs and lows. Before grad school, I obtained my bachelor’s degree in Biology from Dillard University, in New Orleans, LA. Although, Dillard University is a liberal arts college, I was fortunate enough to gain my first experiences of scientific research there. I participated in several internal and external research internships before ultimately deciding to pursue a PhD. Initially, I lacked confidence that I would be admitted to a program because I felt I didn’t have enough experience. I knew I would be competing with others who had completed post-bach and master’s programs.
Ultimately, I received multiple offers for PhD programs, and chose Morehouse School of Medicine. I went on to complete my dissertation work which focused on the development and evaluation of vaccines against Chlamydia. My grad school experience shaped me into the confident scientist I am today. Although, the journey was difficult, I can say that there is light at the end of the tunnel and if you put your best foot forward and remain passionate about the work you’re doing you will be rewarded with success.
I currently work for Millipore Sigma, within the Life Sciences Division of Merck KGaA, Darmstadt, Germany. Our company strives to provide and develop innovative products, services and expertise for academia, government, biopharmaceutical industry and industrial labs.
I first learned about Millipore Sigma during grad school while working in a microbiology/immunology laboratory, we often utilized several products such as their Luminex kits for immunoassays. I initially learned about the GO global rotational program through a SMDP alumna, Makendra Umstead. She shared her experience with GO global during our first SMDP training session.
I appreciate the vast level of diversity. As a global company, there are many opportunities to work with cross-functional teams and connect with individuals from all sorts of cultures and backgrounds. There is unique level of respect demonstrated throughout the entire company! I love it.
I would say my critical thinking skills and laboratory experience heavily contributed to my success in this role so far. Some of the soft skills such as being able to communicate technical jargon effectively and give presentations to a broad audience also plays role. I chose this role because I knew I enjoyed scientific research, discovery, and working in the lab but I was unsure if I would enjoy it in industry as much as I did in academia. I felt that the rotational program was the perfect Segway for me to learn different areas of the company to determine if industry was the best place for me.
Achieving any goal I set for myself even if there are delays or deviations. I value the small wins and use them to motivate me to set the tone for the next challenge I may encounter.
The most fulfilling aspect of my job is waking up everyday knowing that I am considered a valuable member of a team. Knowing that I work at a company and with a team that shows genuine interest in my well-being and is endlessly supportive keeps me motivated to do a great job and make sure I’m offering innovative contributions to the company.
The best advice I have is to NETWORK! Take full advantage of your access to the SMDP network, current scholars, alumni, mentors, everyone! I would also suggest taking the time to get active on LinkedIn. Keep your profile up to date. Recruiters scan LinkedIn all day, everyday so do your best to showcase your skills. Send connection request to people who work in roles you aspire to be in or work at companies you’re interested in. Set up informational interviews! MOST PEOPLE WOULD LOVE TO HELP!!
Murder at Cape Three Points by Kwei Quartey. Yes, I love a good murder mystery. Post-grad school I promised myself to allocate time to reading for pleasure!