Lab Coat Confidential: Genomic technology with Alexis Smith

FirstHand’s new interview series, Lab Coat Confidential, reports on the students, and mentor scientists and entrepreneurs who are involved in FirstHand programs.

Meet Alexis Smith, a Lab Technician at Rosetta Genomics. She joined the FirstHand community in November, inviting a group of Polymer Play students from Belmont Charter School to explore her lab. During the visit, Alexis showed how she uses lab equipment to help Rosetta Genomics provide reliable, cutting edge cancer diagnostic information.

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As a curious kid, I …
…went outside with an insect guide to try to identify all of the bugs I found (but made my little sister pick them up for me!)

Please share a moment from middle school that sparked your interest in a STEAM career.
I do not have one specific moment, but as I learned more and more about the different sciences, I was amazed at how they all fit together and explained how the world is how it is.

How does your work affect Philadelphia community members?
I work in molecular diagnostics, so my work helps doctors determine a cancer diagnosis and helps patients receive the most appropriate treatment.

What is your favorite part of your job?
I have always loved hands on laboratory work and am happy that my lab works helps people get medical care that is best for them.

Any advice for aspiring young scientists?
Don’t be afraid to try things that may seem too challenging at first, and try out things that you aren’t sure you’ll be interested in – otherwise you’ll never know what is fascinating to you and what your strengths are!

Why did you decide to get involved with FirstHand?
Talking to curious students reminds me of how awesome and exciting science is.

If you could go on a field trip anywhere in time or space, where would you go?
I feel like it may be an obvious choice, but I’d want to fly along with a pterosaur and see the earth before there were humans and see the majestic prehistoric landscapes and flora.

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Alexis, back right, with a group of students after a tour of the Rosetta Genomics lab.