MS in Biotechnology Innovation & Regulatory Science (Hybrid)

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Lisa Archibald, Product Data Management


Completing my part-time master’s degree is a personal achievement I am very proud of because I proved to myself that I can rise to the challenge. Getting my degree is not the end of my learning journey, just a milestone in the road ahead.

I am a chemical engineer and have held various roles at Merck Manufacturing, from small molecule commercialization to biologics external manufacturing and technical transfer. Most recently I have been part of a data management team, ensuring that manufacturing teams have the data they need to make informed decisions.

In 2018 I partnered with Purdue University through the Merck Richard T. Clark Fellowship for Global Health. Our assignment was to conduct a gap analysis for the establishment of a local manufacturing facility. Through this collaboration, I met the BIRS Africa students and saw the impressive work they did. I was inspired to continue my learning journey by becoming a Purdue BIRS student myself.

The classes I took at BIRS gave me insight into areas like drug discovery and regulatory sciences that I would not otherwise have been familiar with in a large pharmaceutical company without spending a few years working in those areas. In a relatively short amount of time in the program, I was able to broaden my horizons and see the diverse career paths in health sciences through instructors who are experts in industry. I was also able to expand my network through the peers I met and learn from their experiences in industry. The hybrid nature of the program made it easier to fit the coursework into my schedule and gave me the flexibility I needed. One of the most exciting parts of my MS degree was the directed project that I was able to directly align and implement in my current position. 

I would recommend the program to early career professionals looking to learn about multiple areas of drug manufacturing, and to pharmaceutical professionals at all levels who are looking for a career pivot. If you are looking to grow personally and professionally, take the leap! Even though it may seem intimidating to do schoolwork while working a full-time job, doing the things that scare you will push you to grow professionally and personally.

Although it was challenging to balance work-life, school-life and personal life, I had all the support I needed from my Purdue professors, peers, and advisor. Coming out of my master’s, I am equipped with tools to tackle future challenges, and an invaluable network of professionals and friends to lean on and learn from. The BIRS program creates a very supportive and caring environment and sets up students for success.