Brian Wysolmerski | Biology
From: New Haven, CT
Pomona Days: Class of 2014 | Biology
Current Employment: Research Associate, L2 Diagnostics (Biotech Start-up in New Haven, CT)
- Postgraduate Research Associate, Yale University (2015-2016)
M.Phil. in Genetics, Wellcome Trust/Cancer Research U.K. Gurdon Institute, University of Cambridge, U.K. (2014-2015)
I am a molecular and cellular biologist and I work in pre-clinical R&D at a tiny Yale-based biotech company. I work very early in the drug discovery and development pipeline, and my research aims to develop novel therapeutics for cancer and autoimmune diseases.
When I left Pomona, I was convinced that I would have been in a PhD program by now. I had spent much of college preparing myself academically and professionally for this route, but I had the opportunity to take a detour to the U.K. to do a Masters first. By the end of my first term in Cambridge, I had realized that, while I still liked biology, academic research was completely not for me, and I had absolutely no clue what else I could do with my degrees. I spent much of the year after I graduated from my Masters program talking to a bunch of different people who had transitioned from academic biological research into “non-traditional” careers in the sciences (a.k.a. something besides the PhD to post-doc to faculty route—including the pharmaceutical/biotech/life science industries, science policy, biotech consulting, and science communications and outreach), before deciding that I wanted to do preclinical research in biotech for my next step. This process led me to my current role as a biologist at a biotech start-up, where I get to do translational science and also learn about the commercial side of scientific technologies. I am ultimately interested in the interface between scientific research and business strategy, and I will likely end up in business school in a few years; however, it is a bit too early to tell.
I have two main pieces of advice for current students—first, don’t stress all that much about your future while at Pomona. It is good to think about what you want to do and make a plan, and for many people, that plan ends up working great! But if you either have no clue, or are like me and watch your original plan fall to pieces within a couple months of graduation, don’t worry. It is scary at first, but there are loads of career options that you may not know about when you graduate—one (or several) will end up working out. And second, if you have to choose between spending time with your friends or in the library, choose the friends! You will scatter all over the world upon graduation and you won’t be able to get together that often, so take advantage of and cherish the time you have now.
Get in touch if you want to talk about careers in biotech, finding your first job in biotech or pharma, how to learn about non-traditional science careers, or what it is like to be an American postgrad in the U.K. I have learned a ton of things in the last few years that I wish I had known earlier, so I am always happy to share.