Critical Analytical Thinking: Video Transcript

Kevin Klucher, PhD (BS Chemistry, Miami, 1985) [Director of Biology at a biotechnology company called Oncothyreon]: After I graduated from Miami University, I went to get a PhD in biology at the University of California-San Diego, and from that I really started training in cell biology. My current position is Director of Biology at a company called Oncothyreon. Oncothyreon is Greek for 'cancer shield'.

Oncothyreon is a company that is developing cancer therapeutics. We have two different platforms for therapeutics. One is cancer vaccines, and we are using a target called MUC-1, which is a protein which is commonly found in most cancers, and we are developing a vaccine which will attack those cancers that are expressed in MUC-1 and try to have our immune system kill these tumor cells expressed in MUC-1.

When I was a junior at Miami, I decided I wanted to do undergraduate research. And this was something that I think would really help me make the decision on going to graduate school, whether it was something that I would really want to pursue. It's very easy to do undergraduate research at Miami University. I went to my chemistry professor at the time, Dr. Ann Hagerman, asked her if she had any room in her lab to have an undergraduate help work out, and she said, "No problem, you know, whenever you're interested come and we'll get you situated with a project." And so, I think that the ability to do undergraduate research at a level where you're really in that very close contact with the professors as well as graduate students, post-docs, in the lab, really is a huge value to an undergraduate, because you really understand then how science is really done. And I think that was probably, I think, the best resource was the ability to get to know a true scientist at the bench level.

As a Bachelor of Science major at Miami University, I had a pretty well-defined set of science classes that I was required to take for my degree. But there were general requirements that were required of all students that attended, and I took a lot of history classes and I took some literature classes to fulfill those general requirements. I think that one value that those types of classes have for a career in sciences is the critical analytical thinking that's required in any subject, be it history or science. And also writing skills, because in science we are required to do a lot of writing, and more than you might think when you think about a chemistry major. We write papers to describe our work, and I think the value in any liberal arts class where you can spend a significant amount of time writing essays and papers, that really helps the scientist write the papers to further their scientific career.

I think that when you're an undergraduate, you can become focused on the bottom line of getting your degree and getting out and doing something, something else, and there's a lot of opportunity as an undergraduate at Miami to take different kinds of courses, to challenge yourself, take higher level courses, and I think that it's a good time to do that and the opportunity is there, and you should really take that opportunity when you're still an undergraduate.

[November 2013]