Link to home

​​Exploring Career Paths in Biotechnology​
hosted by the Bioengineering Applications Committee

​​Broadcast Date: April 28​, 2023

Morning Session Time: ​11:00 - 12:30 PM Central


​​​Webinar Summary​

This webinar, hosted by the  Bioengineering Applications Committee, is geared towards graduate students and early career researchers eager to learn about different career paths in the biotech space. Speakers will be from biotech spaces in the industry, government, academia, and extension to give the attendees examples of diverse career paths that are possible in this space, give general tips around building a strong CV/resume as well as interview preparation skills, what they could expect the interview process to look like, and broadly share what it’s like to work in each respective space. At the end of the presentation, there will be breakout sessions, one for each speaker, to give attendees a chance to ask more specific questions regarding the career path in which they are interested.

Learning Objectives

  • Gained insight into the work life of four different career areas within the biotech space
  • Learned tips on how they can position themselves for such roles as well as how to approach applying and interviewing
  • Gain candid insight into specific questions they have regarding a particular career path in biotech.


Dr. Keith Merrill
Bayer Crop Science
Dr. Keith Merrill is an innovative scientist, a driven leader, and a passionate advocate for inclusion and diversity. He holds a Ph.D. in Plant Breeding and Genetics from North Carolina State University and Masters and Bachelor’s degrees in Genetics and Biotechnology from Brigham Young University. Keith currently works for Bayer Crop Science as the Plant Biotechnology Disease Project Lead but has also held roles as a discovery scientist and germplasm breeder, where he led efforts to accelerate genetic gain through improvements in breeding methodology. He also leads a global allyship for the gender equity group at Bayer. He is committed to building teams and a culture where everyone is included and able to put their minds, talents, and energy into moving forward rather than fighting friction resulting from bias. As a fun fact, as an undergraduate student, Keith worked as the master electrician for two different performing arts groups. He was able to tour China, Chile, and much of the Western United States with those groups.

Dr. Megan McCaghey
University of Minnesota
Dr. Megan McCaghey is an Assistant Professor of Plant Pathology at the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities. She earned her M.S. in International Agricultural Development from University of California-Davis and a Ph.D. in Plant Pathology from University of Wisconsin, Madison. After her Ph.D., she completed a USDA NIFA postdoctoral research fellowship on southern blight prediction and management with Dr. Cassandra Swett. At UMN, she leads a research program that is focused on the ecology, biology, and management of soilborne, plant-pathogenic fungi. Her work uses translational approaches to answer questions aimed at improving disease management.

Dr. Tiffanna J. Ross
Ohio State University
Dr. Tiffanna J. Ross is a Post-Doctoral Scholar at the Ohio State University, Wooster Campus where she investigates the genetic resistance mechanism(s) of soybean Sclerotinia stem rot (white mold) for improve management in the Midwestern United States. Dr. Ross earned her Ph.D. in Botany and Plant Pathology with an emphasis on field crop pathology from Purdue University. She has a Master of Science in Agricultural Regulations (Molecular Biology and Plant Biotechnology) from the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff and a Bachelor of Science degree in Agriculture from the University of Guyana. Dr. Ross has over nine years of research expertise in the field of crop pathology and disease management which includes a combination of molecular biology, plant biotechnology, and plant pathology skillset needed for detection, diagnosis, and management of diseases field crops. Over the years Dr. Ross collaborated on a number of projects with researchers from diverse fields (such as agronomy, chemical engineering, formulation technology, plant pathology, and entomology) and with multiple institutions (national or international collaborations), in some of which she was a key participant or project leader. These projects have equipped her with information and skills that are readily applicable to any position in the crop industry.

Dr. Dennis Halterman
Dr. Dennis Halterman grew up as a child of science and algebra teachers. During the summers in high school, he worked on his extended family's farms in north-central Illinois, helping to raise 1500+ acres of corn and soybeans. This combination of science, math, and agriculture influenced his decision to major in biology and biochemistry at Cornell College in Mt. Vernon, Iowa and he went on to complete a Ph.D. at Purdue University studying tomato disease resistance. Dr. Halterman studied powdery mildew resistance in barley as a USDA/ARS postdoc before accepting his current position in 2004 with the USDA in Madison, Wisconsin. Since then, his research group has worked to identify new sources of disease resistance in wild relatives of potato and understand their role in recognizing pathogens and activating resistance. His work has led to the identification of new sources of resistance to potato late blight and a better understanding of the molecular mechanisms of resistance to late blight, PVY, verticillium, and other diseases.