Graduate students often struggle to envision careers outside of the academic world. A partnership between Promega Ibérica and the Universidad Autónoma de Madrid (UAM) is helping change that for students in UAM’s Cellular Dynamics and Biomolecules master’s degree program.
In March 2019, General Manager of Promega Ibérica Gijs Jochems met with representatives from UAM and other regional organizations. Together, they developed a collaboration focused on increasing science and research innovation in Spain and building bridges between the University and society.
María Jurado Pueyo, an application support manager with Promega Ibérica’s technical services department, is leading one of the programs that has resulted from this partnership. In 2019 and 2021, Jurado Pueyo developed and ran a laboratory exercise that is integrated into a course in the degree program. The laboratory exercises have not only introduced students to advanced techniques in cell biology but also to possible careers in biotech.
Designing a Lab From the Ground Up
In 2019, Jurado Pueyo designed a three-day lab for a course called Advanced Cellular Dynamics. In the lab, students monitored cellular apoptosis in real time using the RealTime-GloTM Anexin Apoptosis and Necrosis Assay. After a hiatus caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, Jurado Pueyo designed a new lab for the 2021 fall semester where students in a course called Understanding Cellular Dynamics used Promega’s NanoBiT® system to study protein:protein interactions. While cell cultures and disposable lab equipment were provided by UAM, Jurado Pueyo coordinated Promega’s donation of the kit reagents and use of a GloMax® plate reader.
Though the labs were held during UAM’s fall semesters, planning started months in advance. Starting in April, Jurado Pueyo worked with professors and educators at UAM to decide which course would benefit from a Promega-sponsored lab and what the lab could focus on. After that, Jurado Pueyo worked closely with Erica Golueke, a senior Scientific Instructional Designer in the Scientific Applications and Training department at Promega North America. Together, they designed the lab to meet with desired learning outcomes and developed teaching materials. Then, Jurado Pueyo confirmed that the experiments would work well with the cells and other materials provided by UAM.
Encouraging Career Conversations
For Jurado Pueyo, interacting with students has been the best part of this program. While students were eager to learn and ask questions about the science in the course, many had questions about career paths and working in Spain’s biotech industry. Before joining Promega, Jurado Pueyo earned her doctorate in molecular biology from UAM and was able to tell students about how she navigated her own career path.
“I didn’t know what kind of job was waiting for me,” Jurado Pueyo said. “It was encouraging to some of them to see that they have options.”
The Promega-UAM collaboration is helping students learn about career paths in other ways. During “week zero” of the master’s degree program, Jochems gives a seminar to students about careers in biotech beyond academia.
After two successful years, the collaboration is continuing. In a few months, Jurado Pueyo will start planning another lab for the 2022 fall semester. She thinks that she might repeat the NanoBiT® system course from 2021, but she’s open to highlighting other technologies.
Interested in learning more about careers paths for scientists? Check out these other blog articles or visit our Student Resource Center for more helpful articles, videos and tools.