Cagney Coomer has been working as a sequencing technician at the University of Kentucky Advanced Genetic Technologies Center (AGTC). We asked Cagney about her work and her training.
What biotechnology program did you attend?
Biotechnology at Bluegrass Community and Technical College, Bluegrass, KY
Before attending BCTC, I completed a dual major B.S. in biology and chemistry at Virginia State University.
What degree/certificate are you working towards?
The A.A.S. in Biotechnology and the Advanced Biotech Certificate.
What do you do for your job?
I prepare samples for Sanger sequencing and load the samples onto the sequencer. Sometimes preparing the samples means running a PCR, doing a plasmid extraction, or just resuspending the Sample in HIDI. I also troubleshoot and try to figure out why certain samples do not get good sequences, whether it be equipment failure, PCR failure or template problems.
What are some techniques that you commonly use?
Plasmid DNA purification
Agarose gel electrophoresis
A variety of Quality Control methods
Please describe what you do in an average day
An average day for me means coming to work, maintaining the sequencing instruments (the ABI 3730 and 3730xl). I find out what samples have been submitted for sequencing that day and determine what needs to happen to the samples before they are ready for the sequencer. Then I perform all PCR's on all samples that need it. I do an ethanol clean up on all samples that have completed the PCR. Finally, I allow the samples to dry before resuspending them in HIDI and placing them on the 3730 or 3730xl.
What advice would you give someone who is interested in a biotech career?
Pay close attention to detail, keep a very accurate and detailed lab notebook and most importantly know and fully understand all techniques and methods you use, being a able to troubleshoot is a key part in having a biotech career.
Is there anything you'd like to add?
Network... Networking is very important. Become familiar with all the biotech companies in your surrounding area, study what they do at their companies and how your skill sets could or would fit in there.