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Mir Asgar

Mir Asgar

Operations Assistant, Project Manager

New York Genome Center

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"I was skeptical of being part of strictly laboratory science and not being able to see the bigger picture in terms of contribution to the scientific research. It is perfectly normal to feel a little lost right after graduation, but it ultimately helps to take a year or two to reevaluate and refocus. Know and develop your interest during this time and draw up a plan to steer your career towards the direction you would want to take it to. It is very helpful to have an outline for your future path and adjust as you go. Be adventurous in taking jobs and be open to all sorts of new ideas."

What was your major/minor at Purdue and when did you graduate?

I graduated in 2013 with a major in Biological Sciences (Health and Disease) and minor in Anthropology.

What was your most compelling class and why?

I found the organic chemistry classes to be appropriately challenging and intriguing. The professors were all excellent at making the materials interesting and at testing the knowledge during exams.

What are you currently working on?

We are focusing on utilizing genomics research for three overarching disease groups: Cancer, Neurodegenerative Diseases, and Neuropsychiatric diseases. Most recently, large scale projects have been launched to increase utilization of genomic data for multiethnic populations suffering from Cancer and related complications. The ultimate goal is to collect and use sequencing data to aid treatments of otherwise difficult to treat conditions.   

What drove you to pursue your current career path?

As a biology major, the obvious career path was either going for a PhD or working in technical laboratory science. However, I found that my skillsets are much better served in being involved in operations management to ensure scientific processes are being coordinated in a proper way. After obtaining a master’s in public health management, I brought the skillsets together to be in a management position whilst utilizing my scientific background to understand the details of genomic projects.

Did you pursue internships/co-ops, research experiences, volunteer, or join student organizations while you attended Purdue?

I graduated with an additional certificate for Learning beyond classroom; I volunteered for Boiler Volunteers Network and participated in the Raising Awareness in International Medicine club. All of these helped me a lot to be able to partake in American culture. Being an international student, I highly advise students to take advantage of all the opportunities being offered at Purdue even if they are not necessarily relevant to your career goals. Strong leadership skills, communication skills, and the ability to work with people from all walks of life are valuable life skills that can be developed rapidly in college if you let go of fear and immerse yourself into the experiences. My ability to adopt and change as time progressed helped immensely in terms of finding a job in the future.  

Are there any special accomplishments you've achieved after college that you might not have been able to do without your college experiences?

I would not have been able to pursue my masters from New York University while working full time if I did not have the scrupulous scientific training from College of Science classes. I barely needed to prepare for basic biology classes, and it saved the time for being able to work and develop my career simultaneously. Consequently, I developed strong work ethic and time management skills from the rigorous curriculum during the undergraduate period.    

What advice would you give to prospective or current Purdue students about how to make the best use of what Purdue offers?

To reiterate, be open to all kinds of experiences and take full advantage of the community. Purdue has a unique advantage of being a college campus where everything can be a testing ground. It is prudent to experiment with ideas during this time and to prepare to be a fully realized individual once the college life is over. 

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