In advance of the Mid-Atlantic Biology Research and Career (MABRC) Network's Career Counselor Conference next week, November 17, we're shining the spotlight on a few individuals in the BioHealth Capital Region who are working with MABRC to support career opportunities for science students. Today we're sitting down with Dr. Kathryn Walters-ConteDirector of Professional Sciences Masters in Biotechnology at American University, to learn why she's excited about the MABRC Conference.

BioHive: What are the top three career challenges that are facing science students?

Dr. Walters-Conte: Recent graduates must find their way in a rapidly changing industry. Graduates today must be versatile and flexible.  The job for which they trained or their “dream job”, may have a very small or competitive markets, and/or become automated in the next few years or may not pay as much as they hoped.

BH: What do you do to address those challenges?

DWC: In the Biotechnology Program at American University, we try to impart our students with transferable skills that can be used in a variety of work-place settings whether it be academia, government labs or private biotechnology firms.  We try to impart an entrepreneurial mindset, which allows our students to be resilient and ultimately successful in a rapidly changing field.

BH: Why are you participating in the MABRC conference?

DWC: As the local biotech industry changes we hope to adjust our curriculum to meet the needs of the biotechnology market.  In addition, we hope that biotechnology companies will come to view American University as a source of well-trained and innovative scientists.

BH: What excites you about the MABRC initiative?

DWC: The collaboration between multiple Universities both large and small with the local biotechnology community will hopefully further cement the mid-atlantic region as a center for biotech innovation as we draw on each of our unique strengths and niches.

Thanks for joining us in the BioHive, Dr. Walters-Conte! Stay tuned for another great guest who will be joining us next week. Got questions for Dr. Walters-Conte? Leave them in comments!