Tom is the Director of the Biotechnology Resource Center and the Assistant Director of the BioTechnology Institute. One of the first ever graduates of the MicE program, he brings thirty years of experience in biotechnology research and business development. Most recently he was the Director of Biopharmaceuticals Development at Kolltan Pharmaceuticals Inc. in New Haven, Connecticut.
Fred has been the Biotechnology Resource Center’s Pilot Plant Manager since 2001, and is responsible for all scheduling and technical operations. He has extensive experience with the production and purification of proteins, metabolites and biomass from a broad range of organisms including bacteria, yeast, algae and fungi. Prior to joining the BRC, Fred spent over ten years in local MN biotechnology companies performing fermentation process and product development activities. He received his B.S. in Biochemistry from the University of Minnesota and his Ph.D. in Biochemistry from the University of Wisconsin at Madison.
Full-time staff at the BRC are college graduates with four-year degrees or higher, typically in engineering, microbiology, and biochemistry. Undergraduate students are employed on a part-time basis in lab support roles.
Every operation has its unsung heroes. At the BRC, it’s student workers who keep protein production running smoothly by washing dishes, cleaning reactors, and harvesting bacteria. In exchange, they receive valuable industrial experience and develop professional connections that last a lifetime.
Sophie Justinak worked at the BRC as a student for two years until her graduation in 2016 with a degree in Biosystems and Bioproducts Engineering. Justinak applied the experience to her current job in the environmental division of Domtar Corporation, a paper mill in Nekoosa, WI. At Domtar, bacteria are hard at work helping remove the organic matter from polluted mill water before it goes back to the Wisconsin River. Interested in environmental issues, she is considering a return to graduate school to study polymer chemistry and hopes to work on improving sustainable packaging.
Jake Timler transferred to the University of Minnesota from Metropolitan State University to pursue a degree in Biosystems and Bioproducts Engineering. After he graduated in 2014, he continued at the BRC until he got his current job as an air quality permit engineer at the Minnesota Pollution Control Agency.
“It turned out to be one of the best experiences of my undergraduate and the first rung of my professional career,” said Timler.
Senior Sokamarint Chak has been working for the BRC for two years and plans to continue for some time after he graduates with a double major in microbiology and medical laboratory science. Chak’s parents came to the United States as refugees from Cambodia fleeing the Khmer Rouge. He chose the University of Minnesota to follow in the footsteps of an older brother who now attends the pharmacy program at the University of Minnesota Duluth Campus. Chak plans to pursue graduate school in molecular biology and ultimately, a research career in industry.