Cheering for Science—A Chemist (and former professional cheerleader) in Medical Sales
Jul07

Cheering for Science—A Chemist (and former professional cheerleader) in Medical Sales

It’s not every day you meet a chemist who works in surgical sales and used to be a professional cheerleader. But that’s what Allison Grosso is. Allison received a double major in biology and chemistry from North Carolina State University, where she was also a cheerleader. After college, she worked for four years as a biology researcher at Merck, and also cheered for the Philadelphia Eagles for four years, serving as captain for two years. Allison eventually realized that she wanted a job with more interaction with people. She transferred into a sales rep position at Merck, where she learned the ins and outs of the business of pharmaceutical sales. After a few years, Allison says she felt she “needed a bit more of a challenge.” So she applied for a competitive position in surgical sales and landed the job. Now she is a Territory Manager for a surgical device company, which she finds both challenging and satisfying. “I work with surgeons in the operating room, and my knowledge of our technology, anatomy and specific disease states is essential to my success,” Allison says. A typical day for Allison starts at 7:30 am in any one of the many hospitals she covers in eastern Pennsylvania. Her job is to be present while the surgical procedure is taking place to ensure the equipment is functioning correctly. After a few surgeries, Allison takes care of office calls and spends time talking to doctors and operating staff, informing them about new products and training them to use surgical equipment. The best part of the job for Allison is working with surgeons and operating room staff. “I sell a great product that is loved by so many people, and it is so wonderful to hear the success stories from them about how great the patients are doing after the operation,” Allison says. “The most challenging part of the job is trying to convince some surgeons to try something new,” Allison says. “It is my job to simply get them to try it, and let the success of the product speak for itself.” Allison says having a background in chemistry and biology has helped her immensely with her current job. She feels confident in being able to understand exactly how the company’s products work and compare to their competition’s products. In her spare time, Allison is part of a science outreach organization—Science Cheerleaders—comprised of current and former professional cheerleaders who are also scientists. In addition to performances, such as (posted above) at the 2010 Science and Engineering Festival in Washington D.C., the cheerleading scientists also visit schools and do science experiments with kids—all while dressed...

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What it takes to be a chemistry entrepreneur
Oct07

What it takes to be a chemistry entrepreneur

If you’re a chemist with a great idea, it just might be that some entrepreneurial training and business savvy is all you need to start up a company that could lead to new jobs, according to Harvard University professor George Whitesideds. A few weeks back, Whitesides, along with ACS Immediate Past President Joseph Francisco, co-hosted an ACS Webinar titled “Entrepreneurship + Innovation = Jobs.” If you missed it, you can view the recorded webinar here. The option of taking your idea and starting up a company is something that’s not talked about in much depth in the circles I run in, i.e. in grad school. Whitesides said he believes this is a problem. Students are coming out with advanced chemistry degrees but without the entrepreneurial know-how to turn their ideas into profits for the benefit of themselves and the economy. During the webinar, Whitesides shared his thoughts on this issue and also offered suggestions to the ACS regarding what they can do to help create more jobs for chemists. Read the entire report from the ACS Task Force here. What’s the problem? Whitesides had a thing or two to say about what it will take to get chemists back in the game. To begin, the Task Force asked the question, What is causing the decline in employment for chemists? Is it a problem of declining need for chemists, or chemists’ decline in innovation? The Task Force’s conclusion was that “there’s no loss in innovation, but there are problems in getting the ideas that are emerging in chemistry into a state where they are recognizable in creating large numbers of jobs,” Whitesides said. In other words, the problem is not that there’s nothing left for chemists to contribute. In fact, the biggest problems facing society now are problems that require chemistry– so the opportunities are, in principle, unlimited, he said. Okay, it’s not that chemists aren’t needed in society. They are. So, the problems lie more in the arena of turning brilliant ideas into marketable products. But starting up a company is not as simple as we’d like to think. “A bright young person has a good idea, gets some money, starts something in their basement, garage, and they get started, there’s a company… it doesn’t quite work that way,” he said. Rather, it’s a very complicated process. The person with the idea needs to think about what kind of product they will create, apply for patents, and figure out how they’re going to cover the costs. When it all boils down, it takes more than a good idea. You need to have business skills—or find people who do. We need...

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