April 27, 2019 at 1:39 pm

Happy Beginnings | Keil-Loudner Leaps from Plant Biology to Antibodies at Quidel

Emily Keil-Loudner in the field

Emily Keil-Loudner

Editor’s Note: The Happy Beginnings series features recent College of Arts & Sciences graduates who are getting started in careers, graduate school and service.

Ohio University alumna Emily Keil-Loudner ’14,’16M found that her role as Quality Control Technician II at Quidel lets her explore both her interests—environmental science and laboratory work.

Keil-Loudner earned a B.S. in Environmental Biology and an M.S. in Plant Biology from the College of Arts & Sciences at OHIO.

“What I want to do is explore environmental questions with laboratory techniques,”says Keil-Loudner, who began working at Quidel in April 2018. “QC Techs are known as ‘the antibody people,’” she explains.

Working as a Quality Control Technician II allows her to put her skills to use while fostering her range of scientific interests, in addition to serving public health interests.

“For example, we make sure that a flu-A antibody won’t react to a flu-B or any of the para-influenza viruses. We stain the slides with antibody, and if the virus is present, the antibody will fluoresce; our testing ensures that when the product is sent out, it works properly,” she explains.

Getting Laboratory Experience

Keil-Loudner credits part of her success to the excellent training and preparation she received during her undergraduate and graduate work at OHIO, where, she notes, she worked in “a fantastic freshwater algae lab” with Dr. Morgan Vis, whom she describes as “a wonderful adviser.”

A significant amount of her undergraduate studies involved DNA work, including extraction and running electrophoresis gels. She notes that this was excellent preparation for her current work at Quidel.

“At Quidel I work with gels and antibodies, and it’s important to use an aseptic technique to make sure that nothing becomes contaminated while we’re working with viruses, for example,” she states.

For her master’s thesis, Keil-Loudner conducted a study in a stream. When examining her samples, she “looked at the enzyme activity, the chlorophyll-A pigments, and the lipid biomass,” she explains. “This gave me a broader understanding of laboratory techniques,” she adds.

Keil-Loudner’s graduate work provided both theoretical knowledge and applied practice for her career. In particular, a graduate course called “Laboratory Techniques and Genomics” gave her a wide range of diverse lab experiences.

“When you go into a lab you really have to adjust to how they do things; each lab is different, like someone’s home. Doing research at OHIO and being part of lab-based classes really prepared me for the workplace,” Keil-Loudner remarks.

Finding Her Niche in AmeriCorps

Keil-Loudner worked a one-year stint with AmeriCorps after finishing her master’s degree. Quidel even allowed her to work part-time until she finished her time with AmeriCorps.

“I remember when I interviewed with AmeriCorps, they asked, ‘You have such a strong environmental background. Why do you want to be here?’” Keil-Loudner was interested in opportunities that let her do hands-on work that broadened her knowledge of laboratory techniques.

“Working with AmeriCorps, I got to meet the people who are actually doing scientific work and serving a community. I was able to see both sides of things: I met community members and did a lot of environmental education and outreach,” she states.

Advice for OHIO Job-Seekers

Keil-Loudner strongly encourages OHIO students to obtain as much experience as they can through internships, jobs, and service positions like the one she held with AmeriCorps.

“If you want to go into research, get into a lab. PACE [Program to Aid Career Exploration] helps with career decisions, or there are work-study opportunities. I did two years of PACE, and it was the best two years! Of course, classes are great, but also doing internships really rounds out your college experience,” she advises.

She further advises students to begin interning after their first year of college, rather than returning to a job they might have held during high school. The key, she says, is to think broadly and with an open mind.

“Even if you’re not sure how it applies to your future career, it’s always good to try something new. I’m a plant person, and I never thought I’d be working with antibodies!”

About Quidel

quidel logoQuidel Corp. is a leading manufacturer of diagnostic healthcare solutions serving to enhance the health and well-being of people around the globe with well-known and respected products that provide healthcare professionals with accurate and cost-effective diagnostic information at the point of care. Its core competencies and capabilities focus on immunoassay and molecular testing in the areas of infectious disease, women’s health, and virology.

Quidel is headquartered in San Diego, with research and manufacturing operations in Ohio, Massachusetts, and Germany. Quidel and Ohio University are working together to support alumni in pursuit of rewarding career opportunities.

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