Natalía Reynisdóttir, a 2019 grad, started working at a biotech company as an intern in her last undergraduate summer. She continued as part-time while completing her studies in biotechnology at New York Tech and eventually accepted a full-time position at the same company.
Here, Natalía reflects with The Box on her time at the university and the elements that have led to her current success.
Why did you choose to study at New York Institute of Technology?
I was looking for a university with an ambitious biotech program and a competitive soccer team. New York Tech checked these boxes, and being in such close proximity to New York City was a great bonus!
What inspired you to pursue biotechnology?
I was intrigued by the boom in discoveries in biotechnology and its diverse applications, mostly in terms of sustainability. I decided to pursue the field because of its varied branches and the wide range of opportunities.
During my freshman year, I wrote a research paper on cellular agriculture, the fascinating field that makes animal products, such as meat, leather, milk and more, in the laboratory instead of the animals themselves. I got to interview some of the leading scientists in this fast-growing industry, which was very inspiring for a curious young scientist.
How did you get your current professional position, and what is it like?
I currently work full-time as a program management associate at a biotech company, Ovid Therapeutics. They design, manage, and sponsor clinical research for specific rare neurological diseases. My primary responsibility involves assisting in setting up project plans for two different drug programs in a newly incorporated project management tool. I work closely with the head of Portfolio Innovation and Program Execution to support the pipeline by managing the timelines, capturing program team meeting discussions, and issuing monthly reports to the management and program teams to improve cross-functional communication internally.
Since Ovid is still a relatively small, growing company, I am fortunate enough to see many different aspects of a biotech business. In addition to project management, I have also been exposed to the biology of their drugs in development, regulatory affairs, pharmacology, clinical operations, etc.
It is fascinating to witness the abundance of resources required when trying to get a drug on the market, and I love the fast-paced environment that New York City provides. Essentially, what I like the most about my job, though, is working with all these amazing and driven individuals. They all have such a clear and transparent purpose: to develop drugs that will transform the lives of patients with rare diseases. Sadly, these patients are often neglected due to the low prevalence of need and high costs of the complex clinical trials. This has been a demanding experience, yet extremely rewarding. It is ultimately a great way to kickstart my career and gain professional growth in the biotechnology industry.
How did your education at New York Institute of Technology (inside and outside the classroom) prepare you for a biotech career?
I think every biotech student should take advantage of the independent research classes and really put time and effort into their research opportunities. Dr. Bryan Gibb, was an amazing research mentor and gave me enough space to work independently but enough guidance to progress and succeed. The highlight was then getting a chance to give an oral presentation on our work at the SEA-PHAGES Symposium and to put together a research poster to display.
Dr. Gibb, Dr. Michael Hadjiargyrou, and Dr. Navin Pokala made my educational experience at New York Tech truly special by exposing me to challenging coursework along with different aspects of biotech, such as phage therapy, the dilemma of the current antibiotic resistance crisis, gene therapy, regenerative medicine, cloning, and more. They kept me constantly curious throughout my studies and are true treasures for New York Tech.
In addition, soccer has contributed a lot to my work ethic, time management, team mentality, and drive. Being a part of something greater and working hard both individually and with the team towards a mutual goal is something I have come to really value.
Describe a highlight of your New York Tech experience.
On the women’s soccer team, my teammates and I had a historic season where we qualified for the playoffs and were only one win shy of an East Coast Conference title. It was amazing to be a part of that group and the journey that led up to it.
By Karen Marie Belnap