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Courtney (Wallace) Peterson ’10

Associate Scientist II, Molecular Biology Group, IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. in Westbrook, ME and MS candidate in Applied Medical Sciences/Biotechnology, University of Southern Maine

Pine Manor College, Biology Major

Bonny Eagle High School, Standish, ME

Research Project Manager in the biotechnology sector of biomedical sciences

Life After Graduation

Upon graduation from PMC, it was my hope to go onto graduate school and earn my doctorate. For family reasons, however, I moved home to Maine where doctorate programs are lacking. For the first two years post-graduation, I worked in a very small laboratory in the Marine Sciences Department at the University of New England in a Molecular Biology lab and I helped to coach the collegiate softball team. For the past three years, I have been an Associate Scientist at IDEXX Laboratories, Inc. a global veterinary diagnostics company. I work in the RD Department’s Molecular Biology Lab. I also enrolled in a Master’s program at the University of Southern Maine and will complete my dissertation this summer (2015). Home and family have now become a priority of mine which is very much supported in the IDEXX environment. I would love to stay with the company, eventually moving to Project Management.

How PMC Helped Me

I chose Pine Manor primarily for the biology program and athletics, and secondarily for the location, cost and size. Upon entering, I was not sure what I wanted to do for a career, only that I was interested in science.

Initially upon graduation, I was worried that a BA in from a liberal arts school would hinder my career in science. Looking back now, having a liberal arts education has turned out to be a great asset. In addition to scientific knowledge, I developed great communication and writing skills and am an overall more flexible and trainable person, which is highly coveted in my line of work.

Without the support from the Biology Program and Faculty, I would not have found my true calling and reached outside of the College to gain the hands-on skills that I needed to succeed in biomedical sciences. At the time, the courses in the Biology Program were geared more toward public health. To help me gain the skills I would need for my interest in biomedical science, ALL (and I really mean every single one of them!) my professors in the program were very supportive of me gaining outside experiences – at Tufts University in particular. I completed my PMC senior internship and two additional 10 week summer internships in research labs at the Sackler School of Biomedical Sciences, Tufts University. Those internships gave me the hands-on experience in bench research that is required for my line of work. There, I was able to take the foundational knowledge that I had gained at PMC and apply it directly to the research. It was actually the skills that I had gained through my internships that made me a desirable candidate when entering the job force.

These days it is hard to go to a college in an area as great as Boston that is also affordable. The benefit of Pine Manor College is that it provides a supportive environment for learning the sciences, while maintaining connections with Boston’s scientific community. The more experiences that one can have BEFORE graduation, the easier it will be to enter the work force and succeed, which is the real goal.

For those interested in biomedical sciences, bench work is ESSENTIAL. So many times at IDEXX we will have internship candidates or even job applicants who have taken super advanced science courses, but don’t know how to pipette! Once you enter the work force, it is more about what you can actually do (or be trained to do), not about what you have memorized from textbooks for the past four years. The broader opportunities the PMC Biology Program now offers the students gives the relevance they need to enter the job force or graduate school.