Utah Native Gerald McEwen graduated this past year with a Ph.D. In Biological Engineering, and is now working as a cell culture scientist for HyClone Cell Culture and BioProcessing, Part of Thermo Fisher Scientific, in Cache Valley.
McEwen Came to Logan from St. George, UT specifically to study biological engineering in a small-town atmosphere. Receiving both undergraduate and graduate degrees at USU, he was a senator for the Graduate Student Senate, helped with the Graduate Student Symposium several times, and worked with the Department of Biological Engineering in summer outreach programs. He also met his wife while sledding on Old Main Hill.
As a graduate student, McEwen participated in research that was always somehow related to biosensors and biosensing. Some of his favorite research explored ways of observing the impact of air quality on lung tissue health. This research gave him the opportunity to work in a cross-functional team covering several disciplines. McEwen says, "I worked with amazingly bright individuals, and I was able to share my research and graduate experience with so many people. All-in-all, the most interesting part was seeing myself transform from knowing to doing."
Dr. McEwen now works for a team that focuses on cell culture medium and applications in cell culture. Most of this work fits into the "upstream" end of the big picture, and involves delivering culture medium that is specific for clients ' particular applications. The cells in culture are then used to produce a specific bioproduct, which is purified and refined in the "downstream" process. These bioproducts are often used to make biopharmaceuticals. At times, offering insight into the downstream process is also part of the team's responsibility.
He says the best part of the job is the work environment. "I work in a hands -on environment where scientists, engineers, and management come together to tackle complex projects. The projects that we work on are different each time and I enjoy the thrill of a new challenge. Although the steps to solving problems. ('scientific method') do not change, there is new background knowledge to acquire and I come away from a project with a greater understanding and appreciation for biology and the beauty of life."