Research Specialist II
WiCell Research Institute
Class of 2005
Tori Barron's career has taken her down different paths, to different states, and across industries.
After a successful stint in human resource management and a final relocation, Barron decided to reignite the interest she had in biology as an undergraduate.
Barron enrolled in an intensive biotechnology laboratory program. Her new skills helped her find employment with a local biotechnology start-up company, Lucigen. Though working at the bench, Barron applied her broad, varied background to the multiple needs of a small company.
These experiences led Barron to look into graduate programs. She quickly found the Master of Science in Biotechnology Program at UW-Madison a perfect fit to her varied background.
"Prior to the program, I had limited exposure to cutting edge molecular biology. I learned a lot about new advances in molecular science, manufacturing, and techniques in drug discovery."
The degree led Barron to WiCell, the non-profit stem cell organization affiliated with UW-Madison. In her new position at the bench, she worked directly with James Thomson and Ren-He Xu, leaders in the field of embryonic stem cell research. Barron employed her M.S. in Biotechnology degree at the forefront of one of biotechnology's most promising new fields.
"My work focuses on unraveling the mystery of stem cells. What is the cellular signaling pathway that allows them to remain pluripotent or differentiate into other cell types? What is stemness? These are all questions that can help us understand human development and human disease and also aid other researchers who are working with adult and embryonic stem cells in regenerative medicine."
The program allowed Barron to not only work at the bench, but translate and communicate the potential of stem cell research to new audiences.
"The scientific communication portion of the program has been invaluable to me. Exposure to great guest speakers was riveting. And of course, studying the genesis of the political debate surrounding stem cells allowed me to comprehend the situation on an entirely different level."
Today, Barron's duties have been expanded to include business development duties.
"The program fused science, business and policy together for me. It helped me enter a field with limitless potential, equipped with the skills necessary to succeed. I am confident in my abilities to translate innovation and discovery into quality of life."