The refrain regularly echoes through the halls of every academic lab building. During our education, we’re treated to a non-stop supply of speakers on every subject we can imagine. Prestigious speaker series gave us chances to hear from some of the world’s most prominent experts on subjects that would shape scientific pursuits for the next decade and beyond. When we leave academia, however, it can be difficult to find those same opportunities to learn. Sure, there are lab meetings and conferences, but when can you be treated to a renowned expert giving a talk just down the hall?
Promega Head of Biology Frank Fan aimed to address that problem when he developed a plan for the Kornberg Innovation Seminars (KIS), a recurring speaker series to be held in the new home for Promega R&D. Kornberg Center is an environment where Promega scientists are challenged to think outside-the-box and anticipate the challenges life science researchers will be facing tomorrow. Frank believed that opportunities to learn from a wide variety of guest experts would be critical for inspiring that type of thinking.
“Promega R&D focuses on understanding scientists’ needs and providing novel solutions,” Frank says. “The KIS program is about helping us achieve that vision.”
The CEDA awards program of the Wisconsin Economic Development Association recognizes businesses, projects and organizations that are making significant contributions to Wisconsin’s economy. Last week Promega won the Business Retention and Expansion award. short.url/aBcXyZ
Musicians wait onstage as the sound tech adjusts the cables around them. He signals “OK” and runs back through the seats of the empty auditorium to the mixing board. The musicians all dressed in black, instruments in hand, prepare to play. Four sharp whacks from the drummer’s sticks and music fills the space. Horns, keyboards, electric guitar, bass, and harmonica back singers as they belt out the upbeat earworm Drive It Like You Stole It. They sound great and make it look pretty effortless too, which is why it’s hard to believe these “rock stars” are also scientists, marketers, IT specialists, lawyers, you name it, who make up the Promega employee band, Lead Generation, known now as “Major Groove”.
“Lead Generation is just one of the many opportunities at Promega that make it truly unique,” says Kris Zimmerman, a research scientist who sings and plays trumpet with the band. “Any kind of expression of creativity can help you to have different perspectives and be a better problem solver. Fostering an environment where collaboration and creativity are rewarded really helps to create a sense of belonging, and creates a vibe of excitement that you don’t find just anywhere. Plus how cool is it to tell people that you play in a band? At work?”
Promega has a tradition of naming its new buildings after notable scientists. The building I work in is named for Michael Faraday who was among the first to describe electromagnetism in the 19th century. He is also notable because he had relatively little formal education. One of our manufacturing buildings in named after Rosalind Franklin, whose X-ray crystallography was essential to confirm the double helix model of DNA. Although she collected the physical data central to this model, Watson and Crick did embarrassingly little to acknowledge her contribution. Dr. Franklin died of ovarian cancer at the age of 38.
As we watch Promega’s new cGMP building grow larger and more complete every day, the administration has reached out to us employees to suggest names. I began to research female scientists, particularly African Americans or Latinas, that should have this type of recognition. This search proved to be (not surprisingly) difficult, so I decided to think outside of the box. Continue reading “Outside the Box: African American Innovators”
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