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Science Graduates

Delira Robbins, Ph.D.

What I do now:
Licensing Assistant at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation. Currently, I evaluate new invention disclosures for commercial potential and marketability; and establish intellectual property protection for all viable inventions.

About my job:
As a Licensing Assistant, I develop marketing strategies and design all materials for the identification of suitable commercial partners. In addition, I prepare and negotiate technology licensing, intellectual property, inter-institutional, confidential and material transfer agreements. This new quest in my scientific career is fascinating because I am able to apply my scientific knowledge to the business side of science, which encompasses a breadth of disciplines and people, and has the potential to broadly impact society.

Path to my current career position (how I got from the past to the present):
After graduating from LSUS in 2005 with a BS in Biochemical Sciences, I worked at BASF Corporation and Red River Pharma to gain experience in the pharmaceutical industry. In addition, I worked at Gulf States Environmental Laboratory to gain experience in Environmental Toxicology. I went on to graduate school at LSU Health Sciences Center - Shreveport to obtain my Ph.D. in Pharmacology and Therapeutics, and completed my postdoctoral training at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in the Department of Chemical Biology & Therapeutics. As a postdoctoral fellow, I also served as an intern in the Office of Technology Licensing to learn about the business side of science and technology commercialization. In 2016, I became a Licensing Assistant at the University of Tennessee Research Foundation.

How I got to LSUS:  I was interested in receiving a good-quality education in Shreveport, LA, and LSUS was the college for me. LSUS challenged me academically, socially and personally to be a great student.

Fond Memories of LSUS:
My fondest memories at LSUS were doing undergraduate research with Dr. Beverly Burden and presenting my research at the Annual Student Research Symposium.

LSUS faculty who helped me:
Dr. Beverly Burden aided in sparking my interest in basic science research. After graduating from LSUS, I attended graduate school at LSU Health Sciences Center -Shreveport where I received my Ph.D. in Pharmacology & Therapeutics; and went on to do research as a Postdoctoral Fellow at St. Jude Children's Research Hospital in Memphis, TN. Dr. Stephen Banks encouraged me to spend the summer at Yale University for the Minority Medical Education Program (MMEP) in 2003. Dr. Tara Williams-Hart, a lifetime mentor, aided in my love for genetics.

How LSUS helped me succeed:
The Career Counseling Center helped me to identify my goals and the steps to take to have a successful career in science. I also learned the importance of volunteering and giving back through various student organizations at LSUS. Lastly, LSUS provided a great laboratory setting and the necessary tools to understand the fundamentals of research.

Advice to college-bound students:
Establish your career goals early. This can be done by visiting the counselors in the Career Counseling Center. Get involved in student organizations. This will provide an opportunity to stay engaged with current collegiate activities and will help in building new social networks. Give back through community service as much as possible. This will not only add purpose to your college experience, but will help build a life of significance. Always have open communication with the professors. Set new goals for your new stage in life - college. Last but not least, enjoy college life!

Advice to someone who wants to enter my field:
Get involved in undergraduate research programs. There are several nationwide, as well as locally at LSUS and LSU Health Shreveport. Take on leadership positions. By taking on leadership positions, you are able to build unique leadership skills that will enhance you and your potential scientific career in numerous ways. Display your resume on your institutional website. This provides a great way to market your skills to potential future employers. Lastly, always seek to be the best!

Tips on choosing a major or career:
Always seek a major or career that you are passionate about - one that you can wake up early in the morning wanting to work hard to pursue the next goal. Always update your LinkedIn profile. Employers are also checking LinkedIn for potential candidates. In addition, during the interview process, whether for graduate school or permanent employment, the hiring manager/committee will often use your LinkedIn profile to support your résumé or look for gaps in your employment history.

My toughest professional challenge:
Becoming more independent as a scientist, as well as transitioning to the business side of science. However, the leadership skills that I gained at LSUS, and the ability to multi-task and adapt to new projects, allowed this challenge to be one of the greatest transitions of my career from a scientist to a technology licensing professional.

My toughest personal challenge:
Becoming an effective mentor at the graduate and postdoctoral level. However, I planned experiments and daily literature searches that were designed to keep students engaged in their project for the duration of their time in our laboratory. Though I struggled, I learned the value of persistence; and have gained the confidence and mentoring skills that were valuable as a scientist and utilized as a professional.

Successes (honors, awards, etc.) in my life:
- 20 peer-reviewed publications with more than 150 citations 2016
- ASCB-KGI Managing Science in the Biotech Industry Course 2015
- UNCF-Merck Postdoctoral Science Research Fellowship 2014
- St. Jude Postdoctoral Fellowship 2012
- James A. Cardelli Award for Excellence in Cancer Research 2012
- Society for Free Radical Biology & Medicine
      - Travel Award (Atlanta, GA) 2011
- AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award 2011
      - Travel Award (Boston, MA)
- South Central Chapter - Society of Toxicology (SOT)
      - Regional Graduate Oral Presentation Award 2011
- AACR Minority Scholar in Cancer Research Award 2011
      - Travel Award (Orlando, FL)
- South Central Chapter - Society of Toxicology (SOT)
      - Regional Graduate Poster Session Award 2010
- Phi Eta Sigma National Honor Society 2000-2005
- National Dean's List, Outstanding Academic Performance 2000-2004
- Yale School of Medicine Minority Medical Education Program 2003

I've learned this from life:
Always maintain a positive attitude and outlook in life.
While gaining success, also build a life of significance by giving back to the community through volunteering. There are multiple rewards that come with being a service to others.

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