Earth Month Events Highlight Recycling, Lawn Care and More!

The Earth Month Plant Swap included cuttings from displays throughout the Promega Madison campus

Earth Day 2023 is past, but protecting our environment and natural resources is important every day of the year.

As a company, Promega has set ambitious goals for reducing our carbon emissions, plastic waste and water usage by 2030. We design each new building to surpass the sustainability features of all previous facilities. Our culinary garden employs techniques that are beneficial to the ecosystem, from enriching the soil to supporting local wildlife. In fact, over 225 acres of our 400-acre Madison campus is dedicated to preserved prairie, wetlands and woodlands.

Promega employees are also dedicated to reducing their impact on the natural world. This month, a series of employee-hosted Earth Month events gave Madison-based Promega employees the opportunity to test-drive electric cars, trade plants and learn about sustainable lawncare. Here are a few highlights from Earth Month 2023 at Promega.

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From Biotechnology Youth Apprenticeship to Full-Time Promega Scientist

Headshot photos of Emily Torio, Lucas Slivicke and Kirsten Wingate, three Promega scientists who participated in the Youth Apprenticeship Program.

The Biotechnology Youth Apprenticeship Program hosted by the BTC Institute gives high school students an opportunity to gain hands-on experience in a research lab. Students can work as paid apprentices for either one or two years while also attending weekly training sessions at the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center. Through this program, students can graduate high school with robust knowledge of lab safety and fundamental techniques, as well as a strong understanding of the soft skills required to succeed in science, from reading peer-reviewed literature to delivering a research presentation.

Many of these students will grow up to pursue careers in science, from academic research labs to the biotechnology industry. Some of them have returned to Fitchburg to work at Promega, the primary corporate sponsor of BTC Institute. As these scientists progress in their careers, the skills they developed in the Youth Apprenticeship Program continue to support their work every day.

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The Largest Maxprep Liquid Handler Installation Ever: Kigali Rwanda, 2022

“It was just a sea of Promega everywhere,” says Rebecca Roberts, a Promega Field Applications Scientist. “Floor to ceiling, piled up with Maxwell instruments, Maxprep Liquid Handlers, all the accessories and consumables…”

In her role on the Field Application Scientists team, Rebecca travels the United States installing the Maxprep Liquid Handler in customer labs and training scientists to operate the system and incorporate it into their workflow. This instrument automates the pre- and post-processing steps in a nucleic acid purification workflow. It’s a large and sophisticated instrument that takes up roughly four feet of lab bench space and weighs up to 220 pounds. It is intended for research use only, but during the COVID-19 pandemic, the Maxprep Liquid Handler, Maxwell RSC 48 Instrument, and several Maxwell purification kits were recommended for nucleic acid extraction protocols in the CDC 2019-Novel Coronavirus Real-Time RT-PCR Diagnostic Panel Emergency Use Authorization (EUA).  

When an instrument is sold, Rebecca and a Service Engineer spend three days on-site installing it and training a small group of staff to use it. One Maxprep instrument at a time is typical. On rare occasions, Rebecca might install two on a single trip. However, in 2022, Rebecca joined a multinational team of Promega scientists and engineers in Kigali, Rwanda for an order that was anything but typical.

Promega field applications scientists install a Maxprep Liquid Handler in a small room that already holds two more liquid handlers.
Field Application Scientists Rebecca Roberts, Ben Cooley and Lucy Swithenbank install a Maxprep Liquid Handler in Kigali, Rwanda

“We knew a large order from this customer was a possibility,” Rebecca says, “But I certainly wasn’t expecting an order of ten.”

This was the largest installation of Maxprep instruments Promega has ever seen from a single order. The customer also had a hard deadline that required delivery, installation and training to be complete in only six weeks – half the time usually quoted for a single instrument.

In the end, ten Maxprep instruments were installed at the National Reference Laboratory in Kigali, and more than twenty people were trained to use the systems for RNA extraction to support COVID-19 testing at a major international meeting. The order was a success, but that six week journey was a wild ride that depended on the hard work and dedication of Promega teams on both sides of the Atlantic.

And the impact of this work is still growing.

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Creativity In Action: The Promega Employee Art Show

Behind the reception desk at the BioPharmaceutical Technology Center hangs a self-portrait of an R&D scientist made of torn paper. A painting by an IT specialist adorns a wall outside the auditorium. Near the windows, the daughter of a manager in Operations Engineering has created a diorama depicting the coronation of Princess Bryn Bryn who is, in fact, a puppy.

The Promega Employee Art Show is an annual exhibition that invites Promega employees and their family members to submit artwork to be displayed in the Promega Art Showcase. The 2023 showcase features more than 150 pieces of art submitted by employees in 3 countries.

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How We Connected in 2022

The Finance and Accounting team attends a Milwaukee Brewers game for team bonding

As the calendars turn to a new year, we love to take a moment to look back at the previous year. A lot happened at Promega in 2022! We launched Spectrum CE System, the first capillary electrophoresis instrument compatible with 8-color STR analysis chemistry. We announced that over 20% of our global electricity usage is now generated by renewable sources. We unveiled new employee benefits that aim to support employees dealing with specific life challenges.

Perhaps most importantly, in 2022 we prioritized meaningful connections and deepening our relationships with one another. From honoring employee contributions to marking significant milestones, here are just a few ways Promega teams around the world celebrated and connected in the past year.

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Rocking Out with the Promega Band: Major Groove!

Promega employees playing with the band Major Groove
A group of Promega employees rehearses their set for the Employee Recognition Meeting reception

Have you ever heard Guns ‘n’ Roses and Lizzo in the same concert?

When the Promega employee band Major Groove takes the stage, you never know what they might play!

The Promega band started with a handful of employees in 2006 and has grown to include more than 50 active musicians. Today, they play at company meetings, picnics, art shows and much more.

“During my interview process, I was sent a list of links to learn more about Promega. I was like, “Hold the phone! This company has a band!” says Kathryn Sauter, a Business Analyst on the Global Logistics team. “I never thought I’d have an opportunity to participate in a musical extracurricular activity at a place where I work. Promega immediately shot to the top of my list.”

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Inside the First Promega Targeted Protein Degradation Symposium

Poster session at the Targeted Protein Degradation Symposium
Researchers attend a poster session at the first Targeted Protein Degradation Symposium

On September 20, more than 60 scientists from across North America convened at Promega Madison for our first Targeted Protein Degradation Symposium. For two days, speakers shared their most recent advances in this exciting field.

“What has really stood out for me is the collective energy, the openness, the willingness of people to share their struggles, their successes, their compound structures, and really embody this broader goal of working together to build capabilities that will ultimately lead to successful therapeutic compounds,” says Promega Senior Research Scientist Kristin Riching.

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The Bell Burnell Observatory: 140 Years of Inspiring Scientific Curiosity

The Bell Burnell Observatory, located at Promega Madison

On a hill at the top of the Promega Madison campus, an old observatory overlooks the city of Fitchburg, Wisconsin. Inside, cutting-edge telescopes are ready to give students and astronomers breathtaking views of the cosmos.

Over the past 140 years, this observatory has served as the first launchpad for storied careers in astronomy. Following a relocation, it gave a passionate community a home for their curiosity. Today, it supports modern research while also welcoming stargazers of all ages. It is now one of the oldest operational observatories in the United States. This is the Bell Burnell Observatory.

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A Different Kind of Sustainable Growth: What’s Happening in the Promega Garden

Tomatoes growing in the Promega garden
Tomato season is ending soon, and Mike has already harvested 2,500 pounds from the Promega garden.

Summer is winding down at Promega Madison. Kids are heading back to school, sunset is creeping earlier, and a new cycle of academic research projects are ramping up. However, in the Promega garden, Master Gardener Mike Daugherty is still hard at work harvesting fresh produce that will soon become delicious meals in our cafeterias. As the seasons begin to change, I stopped by to learn what’s happening on the farm. Here are a few highlights that Mike shared.

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Behind the Scenes at Promega with the Brazil Young Researchers Award Winners

“What I’ve learned in science is that we don’t do things alone. Everything is connected,” says Marcos da Silva Regueira Neto.

Marcos is a post-doctoral research at the Federal University of Pernambuco in Recife, Brazil. His project is part of a large interdisciplinary study, so he is no stranger to collaboration and welcomes opportunities to gain knowledge outside his specialty. Earlier this year, Marcos travelled nearly 5,000 miles to take advantage of one such opportunity.  

In May 2022, Marcos and eight other young Brazilian scientists spent a week in the United States experiencing a unique behind-the-scenes dive into Promega. Their trip included stops in New York City, Madison, and Chicago. For most of the students, this was their first look into new areas where science could lead them.

“I’ve spent most of my life in academia,” Marcos says. “I want to see the other side – the industry side. I want to learn new things and expand my knowledge.”

Over the course of a week, the students presented their research project to Promega leaders, got hands-on experience with emerging technologies alongside the scientists who invented them, and played with human-sized proteins in a virtual reality space.

They also took a picture with a six-foot duck.

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