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Helix Center

I just returned home after a day devoted to all things science. Today, the lab where I’m an intern hosted an open house/networking event at the Helix Center, a biotech incubator in Creve Coeur. “What exactly is a biotech incubator?” you may ask. Well, basically, it’s a place where small, start-up lab companies can begin their research. The Helix Center, whose Core Lab is sponsored by my lab, has many amenities for such start-up companies, such as permanent mailing addresses, shared lab equipment (such as incubators, laminar flow hoods, and incubators required for tissue culture), and a variety of offices and labs that can be leased by such companies.

Anyways, today’s event was two-fold. First of all, it allowed scientists and start-up companies a chance to tour the Helix Center, the Danforth Plant Science Center, and BRDG (which is adjacent to Danforth). Secondly – and, for me, most importantly – this day allowed for a lot of networking. There was a panel during which CEOs and other VIPs from the larger labs spoke about what their labs’ particular niches are, and then there was a more informal part of the program that allowed representatives from start-up labs to explain what they are trying to do and share the types of resources that they currently have.

For me, this day was a great experience. I got business cards and contacts from a variety of people, and I think I really realized that I’m going in the right direction with wanting to continue to learn about and eventually work in the field of clinical microbiology and immunology. Furthermore, I was excited because of the prospect of what seemed to me to be a “new wave” of interest in biology and the biotechnological sciences right here in St. Louis. That is, it seemed like a lot of the companies – both large and small – are interested in networking. To paraphrase one of the speakers, if one lab can’t do a particular job for a particular client, they want to be able to refer that client to another lab in the St. Louis area to keep the work here. Realizing that I’ll be needing a paid job sooner than later, and realizing that I’ll – hopefully – be looking for a full-time career in less time than it seems, I felt so relieved that the biology scene seems to be growing right here at home.

After a lovely morning full of speakers, lab tours, and the like, I returned to my lab, where I worked for a few hours. I’ll be back there tomorrow and then again on Tuesday. And do you know what excites me? I’m excited to go back again and again. I finally feel like all of the long, hard hours spent studying for tests in classes ranging from microbiology to anatomy and physiology to organic chem and perfecting my micropipetting skills in biotech I are finally paying off. As I’m waiting to enter into my fourth and final year at Fontbonne, I feel like I’m finally seeing everything coming together.

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Students writing for Real Life at Fontbonne are paid a small fee for each post by the university.