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Maria Noutsou, Ph.D.

Technical Support Specialist | GenWay Biotech

1. Where did you complete your undergraduate and graduate training?

I completed my undergraduate training at Democritus University of Thrace in Greece. I completed my doctoral degree at Utrecht University in the Netherlands.

2. Please list your previous department at UC San Diego and provide a brief description of the research that you had conducted during your postdoctoral training.

I was a postdoc in the Division of Dermatology within the School of Medicine. The primary goal of my research was to discover novel epigenetic regulation mechanisms that govern stem cell renewal and differentiation. On a day-to-day basis, my primary experiments and roles were to:

  • To screen for the effects of RNAi on stem cell renewal by cloning shRNA constructs in pSuper vector and using gene expression profiling analyses such as Real Time PCR, microarrays, and RNA-sequencing.
  • To provide greater insights into the field of skin biology by utilizing in vitro assays, such as Q-PCR, ChIP and ChIP-Seq experiments, mammalian cell culture and in vivo animal models.
  • Mentor and train two undergraduate students on laboratory and scientific methods.
  • Hire, train and supervise three lab associates.

3. Please describe your current job profile.

In my current role as a Technical Support Specialist, I have a number of duties which include:

  • Providing an excellent level of customer service, leading to high customer satisfaction
  • Troubleshooting problems with immunoassays and other protein related products
  • Resolving complaints by providing optimal solutions to customers
  • Managing and coordinating product development
  • Cross-selling GenWay’s products and services as appropriate
  • Coordinating with suppliers to maintain and update the product portfolio on GenWay’s website
  • Updating product datasheets with new information as it becomes available
  • Providing suggestions for product improvement and support its implementation
  • Recording all pertinent interactions and tasks in the client product databases
  • Providing cross training in shipping and order processing

4. What were the primary factors that influenced your transition from postdoc to your current position?

I really enjoyed working as a postdoc at UC San Diego. Although, I learned a great deal and had the opportunity to meet and work with great people, I wanted to further develop and utilize my skill sets towards troubleshooting and assisting other scientists. I also really enjoy the opportunity to be involved in multiple projects. My role and involvement with the PDA EIP team was how I primarily informed myself of the many possible career paths that I could follow. The EIP site visits helped me understand what type of personality is needed for each position and helped me identify my future career goals.

5. Apart from the research you conducted, were there specific skills or factors that assisted you in obtaining your current position?

Yes, being involved with the PDA, especially the Vendor Show and EIP programs, helped me obtain and improve the many necessary soft skills for the role of Technical Support Specialist including multi tasking, prioritizing, and communicating efficiently.

6. Are there any striking similarities and/or differences between your postdoc and current position?

Similarities: The three main similarities are troubleshooting experiments, developing a domain of scientific expertise, and conducting extensive literature reviews.
Differences: During my postdoc, I primarily worked on projects as an individual. In my current position, there is a great sense of teamwork in order to provide the best customer satisfaction. Therefore, all of the employees are eager to help each other whenever needed.

7. Are there any specific challenges during the entire process of transitioning that you would like to highlight? If yes, how did you overcome these challenges?

Thankfully, the transition was what I expected. There were no specific challenges that I can think of.

8. Please describe your professional aspirations for the next 5 years.

I would like to demonstrate a strong work ethic in order to convince the company that I work for that I am a great asset to their organization. In the near future, I would like to have additional responsibilities and hopefully be promoted to the position of Senior Technical Support Scientist. My long-term career goal is to obtain a Director level position.

9. Is there anything you feel that you could have done more, as a postdoc, to help you acquire or prepare for the responsibilities of your current position?

I think that by attending several networking events, career workshops and attending the EIP-organized site visits, I prepared as much as I possibly could.

10. What do you feel is the most important advice you can give to a current UC San Diego postdoc in order for them to achieve a position such as yours?

If you want to follow a career path in to become a Technical Support Specialist, you really need to enjoy helping other scientists achieve their goals. You should also be very well versed in a myriad of laboratory techniques. However, I feel the most important thing a postdoc can and should do for any career path they choose is to network and have a comprehensive understanding what the position entails prior to even applying!