Meet Becca Selby, one the Biotechnology Program’s newest hires! She’s our new lab manager, and is excited to join the program in supporting and training students.
Becca got her Bachelor’s in genetics from Michigan State University, followed by a Master’s in forestry from Virginia Tech. It was in her first lab at MSU where she first became interested in being a lab manager. “I liked how they are able to support everybody… and if you have a good lab manager, it helps things run really smoothly,” she said. She was especially interested in the lab manager position in the Biotechnology Program because of the opportunities it offers to interact with students and support their education.
As lab manager for the BIT program, Becca makes sure all the BIT modules have the supplies they need to function, helps set up the BIT 410/510 lab, and occasionally gets to help students while they’re in the lab, particularly with running complicated pieces of equipment. “In the past, I always liked working with undergraduates and getting to see them grow and develop over time,” she said. While completing her Master’s degree, she had the opportunity to mentor two undergraduate students, one who started at the same time as she did, and one who joined the lab as she was leaving. The latter student “had never been in a lab before,” so Becca enjoyed getting to show her how to complete some of the more basic lab protocols, such as a DNA extraction. “I really appreciated people taking the time to help me when I was an undergraduate, so I like getting to pass that on,” she said.
“In the past, I always liked working with undergraduates and getting to see them grow and develop over time”
Another part of the appeal of being a lab manager is getting to help run the various BIT labs behind the scenes. While her routine changes from day-to-day, one of the most important aspects of her role is setting up labs for BIT 410/510, which involves over 90 students across three lab days. She checks experiments to see that they’re running smoothly between lab days. Because students only have lab once a week, it’s important to have someone to check on their experiments to make sure nothing goes wrong. And while labs are in session, Becca will occasionally walk around to “make sure everybody’s doing what they’re supposed to be doing, and that the team doesn’t need help or have any questions.” She will also have the time to sit in on the BIT 100 lab this semester to learn more about that experience.
While helping with lab classes and being able to help students are two unique parts of her job, Becca’s role also involves responsibilities that are more typical of a lab manager, such as ordering supplies for BIT courses. She uses a mastersheet of necessary lab supplies and the number of students who need them to order supplies that are specific to certain classes, and monitors the levels of more general needs, such as PCR tubes. She’s also responsible for making sure that proper lab safety and etiquette is enforced, as well as disposing of the waste from the lab. Though she’s still settling in, Becca will eventually help with the Biotechnology Program’s ongoing research, including piloting experiments of her own. Finally, she helps oversee the post-bac, Rose Krebs (interview coming soon!), who helps her support the BIT courses. She gets to interact with everyone involved in the Biotechnology Program, from students to staff to instructors (postdocs and faculty), as part of her responsibilities in helping the program function.
Becca just joined the program and moved to NC over the summer, so she’s ready to start working with students as in-person classes start up. Though the BIT labs are still operating partially online, she still gets to help prepare labs and monitor them for students across a broad range of topics. “I still feel like I’m picking up responsibilities,” she said, as the semester progresses. Becca is most excited to continue learning more about the Biotechnology Program: “I’m looking forward to learning more about the different modules, equipment, and techniques I haven’t seen before!”