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ACS Scholar Alumni Profile
1024 682 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

Arlyne Simon

Voted Most Likely To:
Write a Book

Graduated:
Georgia Institute of Technology
Class of 2008
University of Michigan
Ph.D.

Currently Working As:
Systems Engineer, Intel

What do you love about your job?
Unmet needs for accurate diagnostic tests as well as the advent of smart, inter-connected medical devices means that a career in biochemical engineering can never be boring. There are always new challenges to solve, propelling the development of next-generation technologies. In my career, I have invented new cancer diagnostic tests, designed hypodermic syringes and taught lab technologists in Kenya. Today, I help drive design requirements for cooling solutions used in supercomputers.

What has been the most exciting part of your career so far?
In 2016, I was selected as a President’s Emergency Plan for AIDS Relief (PEPFAR) Fellow. Leveraging my biosafety and quality management skills, I helped two hospitals in Kenya embark on their bold journey towards ISO 15189 accreditation. What makes this impactful is knowing that I played an invaluable role in the fight against HIV/AIDS.

What would you tell yourself at age 18?
Exhale. Be patient. Dream those big dreams. Remember dreams aren’t dreams unless they are big. You are getting the engineering foundation you need to succeed. “And will you succeed? Yes! You will indeed. (98 and 3/4 percent guaranteed).” Ask questions in your science and engineering classes. Let your brain soak up these principles because in 10+ years, you will be recognized as a trailblazing female inventor by the United States Patent & Trademark Office.

How has ACS Scholars impacted your life and career?
Yes, definitely! Thanks to the ACS Scholars Program, I received my first internship opportunity at Dow Corning. That internship was my window in “finally” understanding what chemical engineers do for a living. Thanks to ACS Scholars, I attended my first ACS conference. I remember being wide-eyed as I shook hands with Dr. Mae Jemison – the first black woman to go to space. Today, I remain friends with three scholars. We’ve cheered each other on as we completed graduate school across the US.

This article was originally published at www.acs.org.

Black Wall Street – Engineering The Mission
1024 1024 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.
Dr. Arlyne Simon | Dr. Arielle Drummond | Dr. Camile Wardrop Alleyne
Dr. Arlyne Simon worked her way from the island of Dominica to the United States to attend Georgia Tech and the University of Michigan in pursuit of a bachelor’s degree in Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering and a doctorate degree in Macromolecular Science and Engineering. While that’s a mouthful, engineers bring vision to life. We sit with her, and Drs. Arielle Drummond and Camile Wardrop Alleyne, to talk about their journeys as well as how they keep innovating through their respective disciplines.
#WCWinSTEM – Dr. Arlyne Simon
1024 576 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

This week’s #WCWinSTEM is Dr. Arlyne Simon, a biochemical engineer, inventor (THREE patents!?!), entrepreneur and children’s book author!

As compiled by Léolène Carrington, Ph.D.

We are honored to have Dr. Arlyne Simon tell us her story as this week’s #WCWinSTEM. Given her prolific work in so many categories, we know there’s lots to learn from her.  The responses may be edited for content and brevity.

Arlyne 1
Dr. Arlyne Simon

 

Where did/do you go to school?
Ph.D., Macromolecular Science and Engineering, University of Michigan

B.Sc., Chemical and Biomolecular Engineering, Georgia Institute of Technology

What do you do right now?
I am a Senior Research and Development Engineer at Becton Dickinson. I work with a cross-disciplinary team of engineers and business professionals to design and commercialize hypodermic syringes. As a Global Health PEPFAR (President’s Emergency Plan For AIDS Relief) Fellow, I mentored lab technologists at both the Nyamira County Referral Hospital and JM Kariuki Ol’Kalou Hospital in Kenya.

Notably, I implemented several quality improvement activities in both labs: 1) instilled a culture of biosafety and biosecurity by delivering continuing medical education talks to hospital and laboratory staff, 2) assisted staff in equipment validation of key laboratory equipment, including chemistry analyzers and 3) mentored staff on writing standard operating procedures for clinical assays.

What made you choose your STEM discipline in the first place?

“I love using my engineering degree to create next-generation technologies that lead to better disease diagnoses.”

Without highly accurate diagnostic tests, doctors are unable to pinpoint patient’s ailments and therefore cannot administer the right therapeutic treatment. Based on my interest, interdisciplinary degree programs in biochemical engineering was a good fit.

And piece of advice you wish you had when you started your STEM journey?

“The urge to quit is strongest when you are closest to the finish line. So when you feel that urge coming, just push on a little harder.”

Do you have any woman of color in STEM sheros? Who and why?
Erica Douglas is a cosmetic scientist and I like that she uses her chemical engineering degree to create cosmetics for people of color.
Dr. Patricia Bath is the inventor of the Laserphaco laser probe, which improves cataract surgery. I like that she has Trinidadian roots.

Drawn by Keturah Ariel.
               Drawn by Keturah Ariel.

What else are you passionate about?
I have also written a beautiful picture book, empowering little girls of color to pursue a STEM career and I am currently seeking a publisher.

Head’s up #VSVillage! Know anyone that can help Dr. Simon publish her book? Let us know!

Why do you think it’s important to highlight women of color in STEM?
Highlighting women of color in STEM challenges gender and race stereotypes. As women of color in STEM, we are often the “only one” in classrooms, project teams or conferences. That experience can feel awfully isolating. #VanguardSTEM serves an unmet need by creating an online support system for STEM women who are forging their path in pertinent scientific disciplines. Lastly, “you cannot be what you cannot see.”

“When little girls of color see other women who look like them, working as scientists and engineers, they will be inspired to pursue STEM careers also.”

Arlyne_Camp Invention

Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you?
In 2013, I was a finalist in the Collegiate Inventor’s Competition for the development of a blood test that detects bone marrow transplant rejection in cancer patients. I have three patents and I am the co-founder of an NSF-funded biotechnology startup – PHASIQ, whose technology quantifies protein biomarkers in body fluids. This March, I am featured as a female innovator in the Women’s History Month Exhibit at the United States Patent and Trademark Office in Alexandria, VA. Go check it out!

Are there institutions, groups or organizations you would like to give a shoutout to?
The United States Patent and Trademark Office
Twitter: @USPTO

Where are you on the interwebs?
IG: @arlynesimon
Twitter: @Dr_SimonSays

 

Thank you, Dr. Simon, for your consistent leadership and innovation in advancing healthcare technologies and breaking down barriers so that other women of color in STEM can too! 

This article was originally published at www.vanguardstem.com

 

Photo of Arlyne Simon standing in front of the United States Patent and Trademark Office's "Women of Innovation" exhibit
Celebrating Women of Innovation
1024 683 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

Women inventors and scientists have made lasting contributions to our nation’s history, but why is it that many people are unable to name one female inventor, but can easily recall male inventors or scientists such as Thomas Edison or Albert Einstein?

Take one woman inventor for example. Actress Hedy Lamarr was best known for her work in Hollywood during MGM’s Golden Age, starring in such films as Ziegfeld Girl (1941), White Cargo (1942), and Samson and Delilah (1949). But Lamarr also worked with Hollywood composer George Antheil to invent and patent a frequency hopping technique that today is referenced as an important development in the field of wireless communications. Lamarr and Antheil’s frequency hopping reduced the risk of detection or jamming of radio-controlled torpedoes.

Commemorating Women’s History Month, and this year’s theme of “Honoring Trailblazing Women in Labor and Business,” the National Inventors Hall of Fame (NIHF), the United States Patent and Trademark Office’s (USPTO) long-time private sector partner, has developed an impressive display featuring women inventors in the atrium of the USPTO headquarters in Alexandria, VA. The colorful pictorial exhibit highlights the accomplishments of ten innovative women for their breakthrough contributions and inspiration, empowering current and future generations of women and girls in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM).

In addition to inventors such as Hedy Lamar, the exhibit showcases women innovators of all ages, from Made by Girls Scholar Landri Drude, who participated in Camp Invention, to Elizabeth Hunter, who was a finalist in the Collegiate Inventors Competition. These women are vital role models and contributors to the fabric of American innovation and technology.

In today’s innovation-based economy, it is important to remove barriers and expand opportunities for women in STEM.  Through the All in STEM Initiative, the USPTO is encouraging women at all stages of their lives to pursue STEM degrees and work in STEM careers for the benefit of our economy and society. Follow the USPTO on Twitter and keep up with our efforts through #AllinSTEM and #PeopleofPTO.

This article was originally published at www.commerce.gov.

Helping expedite diagnoses for patients in Kenya
1024 768 Arlyne Simon, PhD | Biochemical Engineer. Author. Inventor. Entrepreneur.

By Arlyne Simon, Ph.D.

“Habari! Habari yako?” That is how I was greeted every morning by each of the 14 lab employees at the Nyamira Country Referral Hospital Lab in Kenya. It means “Hello! How are you?” As my Swahili improved during my three weeks as a BD Labs for Life Fellow, my response went from “Nzuri” (I’m fine) to “Poa, asante sana” (Good, thank you very much).

Within one hour of meeting us, our Kenyan colleagues gave us Kisii names; Lori was called Kerubo and I was named Kemunto (pronounced kay-moon-toe)

Labs for Life is a public-private partnership between Becton Dickison (BD), the U.S. President’s Emergency Plan for Aids Relief (PEPFAR) and the Centers for Disease Control. The goal is to combat the HIV/AIDS pandemic in sub-Saharan Africa by working with local governments to improve their labs’ quality management system so they can become ISO 15189-accredited within 18 months. Every year, BD sends a group of fellows to mentor medical lab technicians in Africa, and this past January, I was privileged to be one of them. My assigned partner was Lori A., a clinical sales consultant in BD Canada. For three weeks, we worked side by side with our Kenyan colleagues as they diagnosed patients with diseases like malaria, HIV and tuberculosis.

During the first few days, we conducted a baseline assessment of the lab and identified key areas for improvement. To promote staff engagement, we formed three lab committees: quality improvement, biosafety and biosecurity, and customer care and conflict resolution. Promptly at 9 a.m., we delivered daily seminar talks, highlighting the need for healthcare worker safety and quality patient care.

Before our arrival, the labs had many gaps in how it operated. There was no quality manual and no formal template for standard operating procedures (SOP). Few lab instruments showed proof of regular calibration and none of the instruments were validated. Access was not restricted, so it was not uncommon to see doctors and couriers freely enter the lab. Chemicals were not properly stored.

Our mentorship empowered the staff to make significant improvements. By week three, the lab’s quality manual was 70% completed, and an SOP template had been created. We provided equipment validation training to the staff, validating the chemistry analyzer. Calibration and preventive maintenance “due date” stickers were placed on each instrument. The lab was locked to prevent unauthorized access. Chemicals were stored appropriately.

We also optimized the lab’s workflow and proposed a layout for lab expansion, which the medical superintendent and Minister of Health fully supported. The customer care committee created a customer feedback form as a quality indicator tracker and Lori (who the staff gave the Kisii name Kerubo) administered phlebotomy competency training.

Without a doubt, this experience has been one of the highlights of my career. It has re-ignited my passion for creating new point-of-care technologies and shaped the way that I will design medical devices for developing countries. With limited space and frequent power outages, developing labs need instruments that are simple, user-friendly, compact and robust. The more rapid the tests, the faster patients can be diagnosed and the earlier critical treatment can be administered.