At Dow Microbial Control, Joe Moore spends his day as a chemist, working alongside engineers, biochemists, microbiologists, industry representatives, and even marketing professionals. He credits the Biotechnology Training Program (BTP) at the University of Wisconsin–Madison for his ability to work successfully in his job with numerous individuals from other disciplines.
“BTP has a huge focus on cross-disciplinary collaboration, and that fits perfectly with what I’m doing now,” Moore says. “The emphasis throughout the program on communicating our science was extremely useful to me.”
Moore came to UW–Madison’s Department of Chemistry for his Ph.D. in 2010, after completing his undergrad at the University of Louisville. He was part of BTP from 2010-2013, finishing his doctoral work in 2015. In Chemistry, he worked with Helen Blackwell, a BTP mentor, and Michael Thomas of the Department of Bacteriology served as his minor advisor.
“Getting nominated to BTP was the tipping point that convinced me to come to UW–Madison because I knew I had some guaranteed funding that would give me flexibility, and I would learn important skills,” he says. “I think Dow found it really attractive that I had strong experiences in collaborating across different disciplines but had also done my own work in both biological and chemical systems.”
Moore says his internship in summer 2012 with Abbott Laboratories in Waukegan, Ill. was the most beneficial part of his BTP experience and convinced him that he wanted to work in industry.
“Had I not been able to learn I was so interested in this field, I might have been too scared to apply to industry,” he says. “It was the perfect low-risk opportunity to try it out.”
At Dow, Moore serves as a Technical Support Specialist. The position sits between the research and development side and the commercial side of the company, he explains. He interfaces with large customers who, for example, may ask why one of Dow’s products isn’t working for them like it should. He’ll design a small-scale study in the lab to try to identify the problem and get back to the customer quickly.
“It’s important for me to be able to communicate with all of these different audiences, and BTP really prepared me for that,” he says. “In our weekly seminar we took turns presenting our science to people from all across campus, getting valuable feedback from them. We also had to write a research proposal with a partner who was in a completely different discipline as part of the cross-disciplinary minor in BTP, which was rewarding as well. I believe BTP made us more literate scientists.”