PhD Student Gains Valuable Experience During Co-op at Glaxo Smith Kline

By Leslie Feldman

Published on April 8, 2019

Sundee DeesFor Sundee Dees PhD’20, who is studying Pharmacology and Toxicology, having the opportunity to participate in a six-month co-op program at Glaxo Smith Kline (GSK) in Philadelphia last year was an invaluable experience. 

“It was a great learning experience in a state-of-the-art lab, and a wonderful opportunity to collaborate with scientists in multiple departments,” she said. “It was also a great confidence booster.”

At GSK, Dees worked in the Complex In Vitro Models group and the experience gave her insight into what it is like to work in the pharmaceutical industry. The co-op experience provided with not only insight into working in industry, but also networking and career development opportunities at various events set up for the co-op participants.

“I was able to interact with various scientists both in my group and in various departments and I’ve stayed connected with them,” said Dees. “It was an opportunity to just talk science with people, mainly.”

Dees gives thanks to her adviser, Isabelle Mercier, associate professor of pharmaceutical sciences, who was instrumental in helping her obtain the co-op position. “She encouraged me to apply to the position and supported me throughout the entire process,” Dees said. ”The position directly aligned with the research techniques carried out in our lab.”

Dees was working in industry at a formulation company prior to returning to academia to pursue her PhD. She selected USciences because of its focus on science, pharmacy, and the health professions and because the Pharmacology and Toxicology department offers diverse research opportunities. 

“The professors are so welcoming and knowledgeable and the atmosphere at the university is so friendly and welcoming,” added Dees. She hopes to have her research published prior to graduating in 2020.

Upon graduation, Dees, who received a Research Poster of the Year Award in 2017, hopes to work as a cancer research scientist.  Earning her PhD will allow her to go into many different areas of research, including as a scientist, lab supervisor, or medical writer.

She hopes to work as a researcher at GSK, which is her number one choice, following her co-op experience.

“USciences offered me the courses and hands-on experience to excel in my field upon graduation,” Dees explained.  “If I could provide advice to prospective students it would be to take advantage of the opportunity to rotate in different labs to find out what type of research you are most passionate about.  Also, network with professors and students in your program, but also in other departments as well.”

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