Science careers aren’t necessarily all about laboratories and lab coats. In fact, some involve business suits and boardrooms. As many science alumni have found, science and business can intersect in dynamic, and sometimes unexpected, ways.
The versatility of a science degree is the message of Adelphi’s new Business of Science and Innovation Horace McDonell Speaker Series, launched this fall. The speaker series, a joint initiative of the Robert B. Willumstad School of Business and the College of Arts and Sciences, is designed to introduce students to professionals and practitioners with science backgrounds who have built successful careers within the business side of enterprises.
The event is planned as an ongoing series, hosting at least two speakers each semester, said Rajib Sanyal, Ph.D., dean of the Willumstad School of Business. “Students benefit tremendously when they can see the full picture and learn about job and career opportunities they may not have been thinking about,” he said. “Bringing practitioners and professionals to campus and having them share their perspectives with students and faculty powerfully complements classroom learning.”
The first speaker in the series was Krupa Koestline ’11, chief product officer of Pure Haven Essentials, on October 20. The company, based in Providence, R.I., specializes in non-toxic, organic personal-care products. With an audience of more than 70 students and faculty members, Koestline shared how an education in biology led to a career in the cosmetics industry.
While studying for her M.S., Koestline began her career as an intern with prominent cosmetics company Estée Lauder—an opportunity she received through Adelphi. From there, she advanced quickly through positions at other companies, including Neutrogena and Aubrey Organics.
“I think my master’s in biology has been very instrumental in my being where I am right now,” said Koestline, explaining that her science background gives her a different perspective from that of her business colleagues. However, she said she regrets not having taken some business courses too, because she has had to learn about finance, sales and accounting on her own. Similarly, she recommended that business students considering careers in science-related industries take some science courses.
First earning a B.S. in biology and then a law degree, Dr. Woo decided early in his career that more science education was in order.
“After practicing patent law for two years, I felt a real need to understand the intellectual and practical aspects of science so I could better assist clients in protecting their inventions,” he said. “This is when I decided to pursue my master of science at Adelphi, an experience that truly opened my eyes to new concepts and applications.”
Dr. Woo earned his M.S. in Biology with a concentration in Molecular Biology at Adelphi in 2004 and then a Ph.D. in chemistry from SUNY-Stony Brook in 2013.
“Though the scope of my practice seems straightforward, it actually expands into very disparate aspects of science and business. In my practice, it is important for me to consider the impact of science on the business aspect of a company, and the impact of business on the science aspect of the company,” Dr. Woo said.
Students should be exposed to various components of the business of science, he said, because they must become capable of navigating both disciplines.
The Business of Science and Innovation Speaker Series was inspired by alumnus Horace McDonell Jr. ’52, ’02 (Hon.), who trained as a physicist and went on to a successful business career, Dr. Sanyal said.
Speakers are carefully chosen, he said. “Ideally, they are academically trained in a science discipline and currently hold a senior position in a firm with responsibilities in the business side. They should also be able to relate to the students and the students relate to them.”
Speakers for next semester will be announced once they are confirmed, he said.