Vivian Young, Bachelor's in Biology '12

A Deep Understanding

Producing therapeutic antibodies to improve lives

As a scientist at AbbVie, Vivian Young '12 spends the majority of her time in the lab developing stable cell lines for the production of therapeutic antibodies, and takes pride in her work and the thought that her research will help to better treat diseases and improve the lives of many people worldwide.

Vivian has long known her passion for biology and, since graduating from USF with both her bachelor's degree and master's degree in biology, she is grateful that she gets to spend her days putting to use the knowledge that she gained from the program in her work with a leading pharmaceutical research company.

How did the biology program prepare you for your career?

The program provided me with a deep understanding of biological processes that is crucial for my line of work. Each method or task done in the labs has been well thought out and specified because of a biological process. For example, when we culture cells in the lab, we typically grow them at 37°C because that is the human temperature. Understanding the "whys" in the lab provides a better sense of knowledge for when I need to troubleshoot.

The biology courses at USF really build onto each other well, but the cell biology and molecular biology courses were probably the most valuable to my current job. The lab skills that I learned from the biology courses also helped prepare me for my work.

Why did you choose USF?

Since I was born and raised in the city, I was very interested in exploring USF as an option. When I made my visit, I was impressed by the campus and the small, intimate classes. I chose to major in biology because I knew I wanted to go into the medicinal/biopharmaceutical field and that majoring in biology would prepare me for it.

What was your favorite thing about the program?

I really appreciated the variety of biology classes offered at USF. From microbiology to oceanography to parasitology, I loved being able to explore the vast biology field and discover the field that really interested me. In addition to taking various biology classes, I had the opportunity to be a teaching assistant for Professor Juliet Spencer's microbiology class, which gave me a chance to teach biology.

I also got my first taste of biology research when I participated in Professor Jennifer Dever's research lab and was able to put my lab skills to use. 

What is your fondest memory of USF?

One of the fondest memories I have is the whale-watching trip our oceanography class took. Since it was a field class, we had the opportunity to have many outdoor lab activities, but that trip had been especially exhilarating.

All semester we learned about the different waves, currents, and organisms that live in the ocean but actually being out on a boat in the middle of the ocean felt absolutely amazing. It was a very cool and gloomy Saturday morning when we began our trip to the Farallon Islands, but you could feel everyone buzzing with energy and excitement. The class had been prepared with motion sickness medicine before the trip, but even though the waves didn't seem very rough in the beginning, most of the class, including myself, definitely felt sea sick after the first half hour. Nevertheless, we continued to make our way to the Farallons and I finally got a front row sighting of the whales. Can't say that seeing the whales miraculously cured the seasickness, but it definitely made it worth it!