Jake joined the Scientific Bioprocessing, Inc. (SBI) team in July 2019 as the company’s second employee. Jake brings a strong cell culture background and excellent communication skills to the SBI team. Among his many responsibilities, he is the primary liaison among customers, the SBI technical team, and the company’s executive leadership. He works closely with SBI customers to seamlessly integrate optical sensor technology into their lab processes, while relaying customer feedback to SBI’s technical team to drive innovation and to ensure quality control.
Prior to joining SBI, Jake served as a Cytogenetic Technologist at Highmark Health and as a lab technician at the University of Pittsburgh’s Children’s Hospital, where he researched the genetics behind heart defects in children. He received his B.A. from Harvard University in Organismic and Evolutionary Biology in 2015.
We interviewed Jake about what inspires him, his background, and his role for this first installment of the SBI Team Spotlight Series.
What inspired you to get into the sciences?
That goes all the way back to when I was a little kid. I grew up on a farm and being outdoors was the most important part of my life. From day one, I was fascinated by animals, and especially amphibians, reptiles and insects. I’d try to catch any animals I could find. I’d collect ants and grasshoppers and watch how they interacted. That was my earliest inspiration for studying science. I knew early on my career would involve the sciences.
Then, when I arrived at Harvard, I followed this passion and studied organismic and evolutionary biology. I was excited to learn so much more about plants, animals, and fungi. This was a dream come true and this funneled me into a science career.
I had no idea coming out of college that I’d end up in the biotech industry, but that’s where I am, and I love it.
What’s your “why?”
I want to be on the cutting edge.
I want to learn and discover things that no one knows yet and then present these discoveries to people. That’s why I’m hooked on a career in biotech because it’s constantly evolving and I’m always learning something new.
What is SBI’s mission?
I see SBI’s mission as advancing cell culture, but it’s more than that. The way cell culture is done right now is kind of a dinosaur, so to speak. Cell culture has been held back because cell scientists lacked access to advancements in specific technologies like sensing.
SBI has developed a type of sensing that enables cell culture researchers to do things that weren’t possible before. What I’ve found is that our sensors provide cell scientists technology that they haven’t had before and because of this we are helping to push better cell culture science forward.
There are so many implications to what our sensors can do.
Cell culture is the way of the future. We want to revolutionize cell culture. Our mission here at SBI is to improve cell culture as much we can, and in the immediate future, that means getting our optical sensors into as many labs as possible. We want to make cell culture easier, more efficient, and less expensive. If we can achieve this, more people can play in this space and we can move the industry forward, which means that more people will have access to personalized medicine and other cutting-edge therapies.
Describe a day-in-the-life for you at SBI.
If I could sum up my daily life at SBI in just one word it would be communication. I communicate constantly with many different groups. I spend a lot of time speaking with customers, collaborators, and partners. A big part of my job is being able to speak the language of our customers, synthesize customer inputs, and bring this feedback to our team.
Communication is key to everything that I do here at SBI.
My day-to-day has changed quite a bit since the pandemic hit. It used to be in person interaction was everything. Big biotech conferences were the norm and meeting customers face-to-face happened every day.
Now I know every web conference modality out there; the communication mode has changed but my job hasn’t. I still spend a lot of time listening, learning, and communicating. Then I put what I hear and learn to practical use in the lab.
What’s the most rewarding aspect of your role at SBI?
Learning. I learn so much. Also, having access to the people I talk to everyday is amazing. These people are at the top of the chain. Having access to these incredible minds and getting the inside scoop on where technology is going is incredible.
I’m getting excited just talking about it. I love it.
What’s your favorite thing to do when you’re not in the lab or working with SBI’s customers?
I have too many hobbies, actually, and I never have time to do them all.
I love playing basketball a few times a week after work. Anything I can do outdoors. I go back to the farm where I grew up and spend a lot of time outside when I’m there.
I’m also a musician. Music has been a big part of my life. I play mandolin, guitar and drums. I started with guitar and that’s my favorite instrument to play, but the mandolin is a close second. I have a lot to learn on mandolin, so I’m playing that more. A constant theme in my life is always trying to learn something new. That’s what gets me excited.
What’s the name of the last book you read?
I’m not a big fan of sitting down and reading, because I’m always up and about doing things, but when I’m driving, I listen to a lot of podcasts.
I’m listening to a podcast series by Dan Carlin called Hardcore History. Carlin does deep dives into ancient history and his podcasts can last anywhere between 3 and 9 hours. The most recent one I listened to was “Glimpses of Olympias”, which is focused on Alexander the Great’s mother, who was an incredible person.
He really tells this story in a gripping way and it’s just fascinating.
What’s one thing that your coworkers don’t know about you that would surprise them?
I hang out with my colleagues on weekends and even a few nights after work each week. We are all really close, so there’s not much that would surprise them at this point.
When we get together as a team, our President John Moore does a great job keeping us connected. We all know each other so well here and that’s a big, important part of SBI’s workplace culture. SBI is just a great, stimulating place to work.