A Proper Fit: Video Transcript

Serena Heyse, PhD (AB Microbiology, Miami, 2004) [Senior Scientist at Procter & Gamble]: My current road to success started at Miami University where I obtained my Bachelor's degree in Microbiology and a minor in Molecular Biology. My sophomore year at Miami I obtained an internship at John Morrell, where I tested food and environmental samples to make sure that they were free of microbial contamination.

I chose to be a microbiology major at Miami University because I was interested when I first came to Miami in going into the pre-medical route and becoming a doctor and going to medical school. I very quickly realized when I started here that I did not want to go into medicine. Rather than being a doctor who implements cures, I wanted to be the person coming up with the cures, and that meant going to graduate school, and probably industry after that. I felt microbiology was the proper fit for me because Miami is ranked very highly in microbiology, and also I was very interested in bacteria and epidemiology, and it seemed like the proper fit of the biological options offered here.

I went to the University of Cincinnati to study molecular genetics and biochemistry, where I particularly studied telomere biology in Tetrahymena thermophila. Towards the end of my career at the University of Cincinnati, I obtained a position doing an internship at Procter & Gamble, which I took, and I studied hair biology for three months.

When I returned to Procter & Gamble, I again was in the Hair Biology division, but this time I was in a products research-type role, which means I spent more time understanding what consumers looked for in our products and what was missing, and how could we develop new technologies to address those needs. At the end of my Postdoc, I recognized that I really missed the lab and wanted to return to science, so that led me to looking to my current position, where I am now a full-time Senior Scientist at Procter & Gamble studying bacteriophages and targeting antibacterial.

I have obtained what I believe is a dream position at Procter & Gamble, and I am very happy where I am at, but I do want to continue to develop technology and continue to become seen more and more as an expert, both within Procter & Gamble and externally.

Degrees in liberal arts are all about having a very balanced background in knowledge. So, not only do you focus very much in depth in your specific subject area, but you also start to study areas that you typically would not pursue. I took a philosophy course that helped me understand what different religions believe in, and it really opened my eyes to particularly Asian religions that I had never even considered, and they made me really reevaluate what I believed in and determined what truly I believed in and wanted to move forward with and believe and follow for the rest of my life.

And this helps me in my current position in that now I work within a multicultural company and I have to meet with many people from different cultures and I can feel I understand where they're coming better, where they're coming from better, and understand their perspective a little bit more, and I'm able to communicate with them and influence them also to help meet project goals.

A particularly helpful resource for me while I was at Miami were my fellow students. We formed a very strong bond with one another, where we would be able to, at that time what was instant messaging each other any questions and help answer any questions we had.
Another very important resource that I encountered while at Miami was our Career Development Center. Without them I wouldn't have obtained my first internship at John Morrell, and they also prepared me very well for the interviews that you have to prepare for when you're going into industry.

My advice to students at Miami University is enjoy your time while you're here. It is short, it can be stressful, but take some time everyday to really evaluate what's going on around you, and enjoy it. It truly is some of the best years of your life. Beyond that, be aware that this is a top-ranked university, and it is seen as such externally, and with that opens a lot of doors and opportunities for you. Take advantage of them. If you want to achieve something, you can do it as long as you're willing to put the work forward to getting there.

[November 2014]