19 Dec UW biotech program launches graduates into evolving industry (part 2)
This is the final part of a series on the Master of Science in Biotechnology program at UW-Madison. Read the first part here. We pick up with three more of the program’s students:
Lynda Bader, Class of 2004
Lynda Bader was ready for a change.
She had achieved success as a strategic consultant to the insurance industry and state government in Wisconsin, and she possessed extensive project management experience working for a number of industries throughout the state.
But she wanted to do more with her life, and was attracted to the life-enhancing benefits offered by the world of biotechnology.
“It’s a growing field, generating new therapies and discoveries that help people lead enhanced, productive lives,” Bader says.
When considering the range of graduate-level biotechnology programs across the country, she says she knew there was only one choice: UW-Madison.
“Few, if any, universities in the world offer the breadth and depth of expertise – from the hard sciences, to business, to bioethics and law,” Bader says.
Bader described UW-Madison’s M.S. in Biotechnology Program as a “model of industrial and academic collaboration.”
“UW faculty and industry scientists team-teach the courses and labs, which are structured in industrial settings,” she notes. “The curriculum is purposefully diversified with scientists, lawyers and business/operations professionals — which mirrors the interdisciplinary teams that function every day at biotechnology companies.”
Today, Bader serves as a delivery assurance manager at GE Healthcare in Waukesha, Wis.
Scott Schneider, Class of 2005
When Scott Schneider reached a turning point in his life, UW-Madison’s M.S. in Biotechnology Program offered a career-transforming solution.
“I needed to reinvent myself,” says Schneider, who now serves as chief operating officer of aOva Technologies, Inc., a Madison-based biotechnology startup that commercializes a patented egg-based animal feed technology discovered at UW-Madison.
The year was 2002. The unpredictable egg commodity market, with its dramatically fluctuating prices, led Schneider to a major decision: sell off his egg farm in Lake Mills, a large family-run operation spanning several generations.
Weighing his options, Schneider was attracted to the emerging field of biotechnology, particularly the UW-Madison Animal Sciences Department’s pioneering antibody protein research involving the use of eggs.
“I had the business background, having run an operation that produced 288 million eggs per year,” Schneider says. “But my science background was lacking.”
He decided to enroll in UW-Madison’s M.S. in Biotechnology Program, and hasn’t looked back since. According to Schneider, the program offers invaluable real-world business experience when it comes to working together with scientists to bring their discoveries to market.
“The program’s core disciplines — science, business and law — are like the legs of a three-legged stool,” he says. “They’re all interrelated. You can’t get by with knowing just one or two of the disciplines. You need to master all three to succeed. This is the program’s biggest strength.”
Jennifer Fronczak, Class of 2004
Jennifer Fronczak was on the fast track to a flourishing scientific career. Having graduated with a bachelor’s degree in biology from Macalester College in St. Paul, Minn., she quickly established herself as a junior scientist at the Carlsbad, Calif.-based Invitrogen Corp., a global pharmaceutical/biotechnology company with operations in Madison.
But Fronczak knew that she needed to master a broader array of disciplines to grow professionally, and to help her company grow as well.
And her employer knew this, too.
“Of the growing number of graduate-level programs in biotechnology, UW-Madison’s was the only one offering a cross-disciplinary approach to science, business and law,” says Fronczak. “Comparable programs at other universities tend to focus on just one of those disciplines.”
Not only did Invitrogen encourage her to enroll as one of the program’s very first students back in 2002, but it also covered almost all of her tuition.
After graduating from the program in 2004, she was promoted to the position of group leader at Invitrogen, managing projects and teams of other scientists. Today she serves as a manufacturing/applications scientist at BellBrook Labs, a Madison-based company that provides the pharmaceutical industry with screening tools to accelerate the discovery of effective therapies.
Making the world a better place
The biotechnology industry is the wave of the future. In 2004 alone, biotech generated more than $46 billion in revenues in the United States.
But the field is about more than just dollars and cents. It improves people’s lives, from finding cures to life-threatening diseases, to providing enhanced agricultural products, to developing new technologies ensuring a cleaner and safer environment.
By generating future waves of biotech professionals, UW-Madison’s Master of Science in Biotechnology Program is helping make the world a better place — one graduate at a time.