Program Note: Symposium Abstracts and Career Networking Session

Every year we include this sentence on the annual CSU Biotechnology Symposium webpage: “Poster authors will be notified of their decisions the last week in October.”  With 353 poster abstracts to review and tough decisions to make, this year’s selection committee took a bit longer than scheduled to complete their work.  We expect to email all (and sadly, 25% will receive rejections) abstract authors by the end of the week. We hope to open the symposium registration system Monday (Nov. 6th).  Stay tuned; we appreciate your patience!

Yesterday we began recruiting industry professionals and CSU alumni to take part in the Career Networking Session at the symposium (Friday afternoon, January 4th). Email if you’re interested in participating!

The round-table discussion topics held during this session mimic the functional units of life science companies and organizations.  Topics like Medicinal Chemistry, Discovery Research, Clinical Trials Management, Pharmaceutical Manufacturing, Product Marketing, Venture Capital/Finance, Informatics, Clinical Laboratory Sciences are usually represented in the room.  Last year 46 mentors staffed 22 tables – the most ever (yes – that’s a challenge to SoCal*)!  We’re open to and keenly interested in new table topic suggestions from the participating organizations – they usually mirror trends in the field.  For instance Clifford Samuel (VP, International Access Operations, Gilead Sciences) answered students’ questions about mobile health (mHealth) last year. You can scan last year’s lineup in the 2012 symposium program (starting on page 26).


The Career Networking Session is not a job fair; students are not hunting (yet) for jobs and won’t have resumes in hand. Instead, the aim of the session is to let CSU undergraduates and masters’ level students explore career options at a relatively early stage in their careers. We also hope to raise awareness of the variety of organizations that employ life scientists and engineers.  Based on survey responses last year, 100% of mentors responding thought it was important to “give back by discussing career paths and sharing personal experiences with students.”  Some mentors and organizations, like Abbott Vascular, Lab Support and Gilead, have participated 3 years straight. [Pictured above (left to right): Morgan Lindley (Lab Support), Margaretta Sweezy (Lab Support) and Clifford Samuel (Gilead Sciences).]

We’re also reaching out to alumni in hopes they’ll come back for a reunion-of-sorts at the 25th annual event.  I was delighted that David Webb (BIOCOM Chair and CSU Fullerton alum, among many other accomplishments and positions!) agreed to kickoff the Career Networking Session. We’re hoping a good number of them (and you readers out there!) might consider a $25 gift to CSUPERB to celebrate our 25 years of biotechnology graduates and discoveries!  Donations will help support student participation at the symposium.

We’re in full-time symposium preparation mode here in the program office; we’ll try to keep you updated as the program firms up!**



*We’re also hoping life science employers might sponsor Career Networking Session tables ($500/table – enough to cover the full cost of a student’s symposium attendance); if you or your company is interested in a table sponsorship, contact me.  

**The evolving symposium program will be updated frequently at


    This entry was posted in Life Science Careers, Symposium and tagged , , by Susan Baxter. Bookmark the permalink.

    About Susan Baxter

    I'm the executive director of CSUPERB and the editor of this blog. Over my career, I've worked with teams to formulate new herbicide products, to figure out how transcription factors work in combination, to discover protein targets for new diabetes treatments, and to develop software for human population genetics studies. I started a biotechnology career because a couple of companies in Richmond, Virginia, offered me summer internships. Since then I’ve worked in major corporations, small start-ups, research institutions and academia. Now I'm working with CSUPERB, funding promising CSU students and faculty, and supporting biotechnology education and research across the 23 CSU campuses. It is a personal mission of mine to smash the myth of "the right academic pedigree." Biotechnology changes so rapidly that it is extremely limiting to ask students to chart an exact career path, focus on a particular technique, or build a defined technical skill-set. My career advice? Stay agile by keeping your mind open, exploring your own interests, and working alongside excellent colleagues on hard problems.

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