Alumni

April 12, 2019 at 3:10 pm

Alumni News | Chapman Finds Career Success with Quidel

Nate Chapman

Nate Chapman

by Kristin Distel

Ohio University alum Nate Chapman ’04 has put his Biological Sciences degree to work every day for the past 14 years right here in Athens—at Quidel Corp. on East State Street.

Chapman works as the Associate Director of Molecular Manufacturing, a position that requires him to oversee the production of Quidel’s molecular assays.

Chapman heads up a team of employees that consists exclusively of OHIO graduates, including two alums from Biological Sciences and one from Chemistry & Biochemistry. The team focuses on molecular production and new product transfers.

“My team is responsible not only for making the assays that we have currently cleared with the FDA—all of the assays that we make for my department are FDA-cleared—but also for transferring new products from Research & Development. We work with our R&D facilities in Boston and San Diego to do test lots and small production runs, and we scale things up along the way, to where we eventually transfer the product. We produce it here and go to market with it once we have FDA clearance,” Chapman explains.

Bringing Cutting-Edge Product Segments to Market

Quidel’s Athens branch current has three core product segments that target different markets and areas of the medical device market. These three product segments are Lyra, AmpliVue, and Solana.

“One of our assays is called the Lyra product line, which is a traditional PCR product [and] a moderate- to high-complex type assay. That’s targeting high-throughput, large labs, like Quest and LabCorp. Then we have our AmpliVue product line, which was one of our early product lines that uses a very unique PCR-type assay. It’s meant for small-throughput labs. Our newest product is the Solana assay, which is meant for almost anyone: moderate- to high-throughput labs. It uses a very simple process to bring PCR to everyone,” Chapman explains.

‘Are Their Science Jobs Available?’

Chapman participated in the College of Arts & Sciences 2018 Career and Networking Week. He notes that the opportunity to help current students learn about career opportunities in the sciences was a great pleasure—and precisely the type of guidance he himself needed while he was an OHIO undergraduate.

His original plan was to attend medical school and become a physician, in part because he was unsure of the career opportunities available to people earning biology degrees.

“I asked myself, ‘What do I have to offer to the industry? Are there science jobs available?’ I didn’t know what jobs were out there for somebody with my background, especially since I couldn’t teach and I wasn’t ready to go back to school just yet. Talking to people from the industry, whether it be the chemistry side of industry, or something like DuPont, would have been incredibly useful,” he states.

He explains that talking with current students and encouraging them to gain work experience here in Athens was a privilege.

“I said to several students, ‘I think it’s great that you’re going to go work for a particular company, but maybe consider spending a couple years in Athens after you graduate getting your feet wet.’ Students should see if this is a path they want to go down. If it is, great! We’d love to have them. Plus, the job you start in doesn’t have to be your lifetime job. You have to get a feel for what jobs are available to know what you’re interested in doing long-term,” he suggests.

Seeking Employees with Initiative

Hiring and training new employees is a key part of Chapman’s work with Quidel. He explains that applicants’ résumés are not the sole determining factor in whether they are hired.

“I would much rather hear somebody say ‘I really haven’t had a lot of lab experience, but I really enjoyed the time I spent in this lab doing this very specific thing.’ To me, that says that they remember something very specific that stuck with them. Even though they don’t have a lot of experience, the experience that they do have meant something to them. It’s emphasizing what’s important to you from your education, as opposed to just letting me know that you got an education,” Chapman remarks.

He notes that explaining in an interview why one “enjoyed a particular class or kept a certain textbook” can have a tremendous impact in an interview and demonstrate the applicant’s passion and interests.

“Not everybody is going to be passionate about bulking reagents, but coming in and describing personal experience that had an impact on you goes a long way to making a connection,” he adds.

Additionally, while practical experience and academic success are certainly advantages, Chapman is especially interested in hiring employees who come to work with an open mind and an eagerness to learn.

“I would much rather have someone who’s going to come in and let me mold them, as opposed to somebody who’s going to come in and tell me that they know how to do the job already. Some students really try and give their best effort; maybe their grades don’t show that they’re the best in the class, but they’re showing investment. Those are the types of people I would love to have steered in our direction—people who are invested in what they’re putting out, not only the people who have the best grades,” Chapman explains.

From Student Worker to Award Winner

Chapman looks back on his time as an OHIO student with great fondness, and he is grateful for the sense of diligence he developed as a student and employee.

“When I was in school, I gave 100 percent, and not just to my classes, but I also worked in the dining hall and started off washing dishes. Hard work, studying, and giving your all really can pay off. Patience is an important part of that.”

Chapman’s patience and industry have indeed paid off. In addition to his rewarding career with Quidel, he has been recognized by the City of Athens for his outstanding work ethic. In 2016, the Athens Chamber of Commerce named Chapman the Young Entrepreneur of the Year.

“That was definitely an honor,” Chapman says. “It made me feel like I’d made an achievement, that I was appreciated, that all the hard work I’ve put in really paid off.”

Jumpstart Your Career

Information about careers with Quidel is available on the company’s website. Queries about internship opportunities may be directed to Laura Davidson, Human Resources Senior Manager, at 800-874-1517.

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