Guest speaker Dr. Erica Bizzell discusses careers in microbiology


Guest speaker Dr. Erica Bizzell discusses her career journey at Jefferson’s Microbiology Club. “My path is only one of many possible paths to science policy,” Bizzell said. “It’s quite twisty and turny, but it’s gotten me to where I am today, which I’m happy about.”

Laura Zhang, Staff Writer

Jefferson’s Microbiology Club hosted guest speaker Dr. Erica Bizzell, an American Association for the Advancement of Science Policy Fellow in the branches of Mycology and Bacteriology, on Friday, Dec. 10.

Although the Microbiology Club only began last year, it has already become a very popular activity, with a turnout of 90 students at Friday’s club meeting. During the meeting, Bizzell discussed her career path in microbiology and her experiences in different career fields.

Club president Neha Sripathi wanted to host a guest speaker to help students gain a better understanding of the various career possibilities in microbiology, as she is unable to teach this herself.

“We can do presentations and discussions, but what we can’t do as students is tell people about what they can do with microbiology in the future, because we haven’t gotten there ourselves,” Sripathi said.

Bizzell previously worked as a microbiologist, but is now involved with science policy, the allocation of resources, and funding for scientific research. Her extensive knowledge allowed her to inform attendees on different fields in microbiology as well as possible ways to achieve jobs in them.

“I really enjoyed how she talked about her personal experience in science policy and research, since she has all this knowledge that you would only have if you went through all these complex steps,” freshman Pishoy Elias said.

Bizzell’s journey in microbiology began after she conducted a research project on antibiotic-resistant infections at the veterinary clinic she worked at in college.

“It was fascinating to me that something so small could cause so much trouble in not just animals, but in all of us,” Bizzell said.

After developing an interest in microbiology, she continued to study the subject throughout college. After finishing her postdoctoral, Bizzell decided to transition from research to science policy because of her interest in engaging the public with science.

“I wanted to be in a place where I could serve as a liaison between scientists and those who might not have that scientific background but want to know and understand more,” Bizzell said.

This communication can be difficult at times, but the skills Bizzell learned while conducting research help her accurately understand and interpret the concepts she is discussing.

“In the lab, I learned how to conduct an in-depth analysis of scientific research,” Bizzell said. “That’s an important skill to have because misinformation can spread very easily if you’re not able to critically analyze data that’s [published online].”