Kristal Newman is no stranger to long days. She has logged many hours working full-time and attending classes in the evening, both as a student and a teacher.
Right after she graduated with a BS in Cell Biology and Genetics from the U of M, she headed to the lab at R&D Systems, a Bio-Techne brand, making monoclonal antibodies. Soon, her love of science and her desire to share her knowledge with others drew her back to the classroom. She earned her teaching license at night, then taught high school chemistry and biology for three years before being drawn back into the lab.
“I always like to keep busy and stay motivated,” the Minnesota native says.
Teaching, Learning, and Adjusting
Newman, who will graduate this spring from the Master of Biological Sciences program, is now back at Bio-Techne, still creating monoclonal antibodies to be used by scientists for cancer therapies and research. She explains it as “making antibodies to be used in experiments.”
She returned to graduate school for career advancement opportunities and to stay on top of the latest developments in the field. An educator at heart, she also wanted to teach science at the college level, something she couldn’t do with only a bachelor’s degree.
Newman currently teaches anatomy and physiology part-time at night. With the Governor’s stay-at-home order still in effect, she is busy processing her emails, changing dates and deadlines, and implementing an online curriculum. She is recording all of her lectures ahead of time and trying to stay connected to, and available for, her students.
“It is very hard to be there for my students and help them when everything is online. It is not ideal! Other than that I am still working in the lab and getting excited to graduate even though it is a virtual ceremony.”
Educator, Student, and Scientist
Newman was always drawn to the sciences. “Never anything else. As a kid, I was always interested in the natural world,” she says. “I was the person picking up all the bugs."
"I love the fact that there is always a problem and you have to figure it out.”
With the MBS program, she was able to keep her full-time job at Bio-Techne and take advantage of the variety of courses available at night. The program allows students to choose courses from across the University that meet their interests and professional goals.
“I got a lot out of the 5000-level courses,” Newman says. “I learned a lot in those extra courses, like Nutritional Biochemistry and Cancer and Bioengineering. I even took Multivariable Calculus.” Career-minded and curious, she also attended immunology and genetics courses that she could regularly apply to her job.
She took one or two classes per term so she could manage her workload, but even that had its drawbacks. “There were all of these other courses that I wanted to take but didn’t have the time. I wish I could have taken more!”
Newman will continue to teach anatomy and physiology in the fall while she explores her options in the science and teaching fields. She has nearly completed her second master’s, this one in teaching. A true lover of knowledge, she continues to seek a balance between academia and hands-on work in the lab.
“I always wanted to be a scientist, but I always had a passion for helping others.”
Pro Tip for Students
“Look at all your options and plan out what you want to take with your advisor. Take the courses that you’re interested in, and plan your coursework around those to match your career goals. Take lab classes if you can to gain technical skills.”