In this edition of BMB’s Alumni Spotlight, we feature Jonathan Meyer.
Jonathan graduated from the Biochemistry and Molecular Biology Department in 2019 with his degree in the Clinical Laboratory Science option of Biotechnology. Currently living in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, he is employed as a Medical Technologist at the Pennsylvania Hospital. Jonathan has also been a member of the board of directors for the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science Pennsylvania since October of 2018.
Let’s chat with Jonathan, talk about his experiences while at Penn State, and catch up with what he’s been up to.
What do you do at Pennsylvania Hospital?
“The lab is located inside the hospital where we utilize laboratory techniques and automation to perform chemistry and hematology testing on body fluid specimens. On “off” shifts we are responsible for some microbiology related tasks as well such as planting bacteria and reading gram stains. Common lab values that are reported include red and white blood cell counts, body fluid crystal analysis, and major chemistry analytes such as glucose, sodium, potassium, chloride, urea, and drug levels, to name a few.
Specimens are sent to us via pneumatic tube or hand delivered by a currier if they are more delicate. Time is spent ensuring results are accurate and precise before relaying them to physicians. Other major responsibilities include maintaining the instruments and checking their correctness by running quality control samples. Almost everything that is done is recorded electronically or in a written log. Lab safety and quality help ensure we pass inspection by the many agencies that may come by.”
What was it that made you want to come to Penn State, and BMB, to pursue your education?
“Like many students I was unsure what I wanted to do with my career right out of high school. When researching colleges, I looked at the number of undergraduate programs. Penn State is a university that offers a plethora of different majors so I knew even if I started here unsure of what I wanted, I would likely be able to find something that struck my interest along the way. I started as a biotechnology major. One day while reviewing my academic plan I clicked a dropdown next to my listed major and noticed clinical laboratory science as another option. After looking into it I realized this was a great opportunity and decided to peruse it.”
How do you feel Penn State, and BMB, prepared you for your current position or career?
“Penn State is affiliated with at least three different Medical Laboratory Science programs across the state. Therefore, during interviews at these hospitals, being a Penn State student gives you an edge on admittance, which is important as most of the programs in Pennsylvania have less than 15 spots available. I really could not have been any more prepared for my career as I am literally working in the same building that I did my internship at senior year. Notably, I use the techniques learned in the Medical Microbiology Lab at Penn State almost everyday at work.”
Did you conduct research while a student at Penn State?
“I spent a semester in Dr. David Hughes lab helping with their Plant Village project. My tasks mainly consisted of using Adobe Photoshop to annotate pictures of cassava plants. His team was training artificial intelligence to build a software that would distinguish between healthy plants and those that had been infected with a virus, merely by scanning an aerial photograph. I would have loved to stay, but my internship took me to Philadelphia senior year.”
Share with us an interesting, or fun, fact about yourself.
“Within my four years at Penn State I moved five times within Pennsylvania. These locations include Quakertown, Reading, York, State College, and Philadelphia all before graduating. Each one of these moves helped me stay on track or get ahead of my academic plan, including summer courses, and facilitated the pursuit of working opportunities.”
What do you like to do when you’re not at work?
“I am proud to say I am a board member of the American Society of Clinical Laboratory Science Pennsylvania. It is an elected, volunteer position that can occasionally be time consuming. I am currently working on a t-shirt fundraiser to spread awareness of our profession and it is something I am passionate about.”
Is there any advice you have and would like to pass on to our current, and prospective students.
“An extremely overlooked piece of advice is to get involved with professional organizations. Many students do not realize the connections and monetary gains that can be made by doing this. Grades are important and thus often distract students from these opportunities.
Since joining American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science, I have met dozens of people in high places, obtained multiple scholarships, and been able to take advantage of many educational sessions at discounted prices. It is also uplifting to be in touch with people who will keep you passionate about your work.”