Pioneers
Nov 03, 2021
| 5 min

From Penn State to Sartorius

How a Thriving Partnership Jumpstarted a Student’s Career in Life Sciences

It all started out on a whim. Like many students, Kanin Sutthasinwong was unsure what career path he would take. He had initially explored engineering and then pursued a major in biotechnology while enrolled at Penn State University, where possibilities abound.

This article is posted on Sartorius Blog.
 

“I chose biotech because it sounded cool! I was unsure of what the future would hold, but I knew I wanted to pursue a career in STEM,” said Kanin. “I really like biology and biochemistry, and learned that the opportunities for engineers are growing rapidly. The potential for how many industries and niches I can get into is great. I thought if I just start then I can land in the right area and figure out the rest.”


I thought if I just start then I can land in the right area and figure out the rest.

Kanin Sutthasinwong, Associate Engineer at Sartorius


Kanin cleans the 5L Benchtop Multiuse reactor after an experiment takedown.


Learning Tools of the Trade

Today, Kanin is a recent graduate of Penn State and working at Sartorius as an Associate Engineer in the Product Development for Cell Culture Technologies in Bohemia, NY. “Now, I’m having this full circle moment as an engineer,” said Kanin. “The hands-on experience I received with bioprocessing equipment at the Sartorius Fermentation Gallery within Penn State’s Center of Excellence in Industrial Biotechnology immediately transferred to my new career.”

Kanin began volunteering in the facility during the summer of 2019. While there, he worked closely with Sartorius’ bioprocessing equipment, including a 30L stainless-steel bioreactor, air filters, and tangential flow filtration (TFF) solutions. He spent long days building on the lessons he learned in order to hone his craft.

“My first thought of Sartorius was ‘this is really impressive. I get to work with equipment that is the industry standard,’” said Kanin. “When I learned how much the company is leading the industry in some fields, I became even more fascinated. What the pharmaceutical companies are using and what I’m doing in fermentation and the microbial process as a student is comparable. It felt like I was entering a different dimension and stepping into the biotech industry.”
 

It felt like I was entering a different dimension and stepping into the biotech industry.

Kanin Sutthasinwong, Associate Engineer at Sartorius


Kanin and his coworker, Juan Bastidas, run a perfusion culture at Sartorius’ North American headquarters in Bohemia, NY.


Starting off at the Corporation

In January 2020, Kanin landed a co-op position at Sartorius’ North American headquarters in Bohemia, NY. He soon noted he could apply all that he learned to the Cell Culture Lab. “It was effortless,” he said. “I had to tweak a few things, but everything was the same. My new colleagues said, ‘you’re very fast.’ I came onboard quickly because I had prior experiences with Sartorius products. Previously as a student, I led training modules and trained younger students on the bioreactors. Everything I knew came from my experience working with the equipment.”

Shortly after graduating from Penn State, Sartorius offered Kanin a full-time position as an Associate Upstream Engineer.


Inside Penn State’s Fermentation Facility, Kanin leads a tour of the lab for children attending a camp for gifted students. Pictured is the Sartorius stainless steel bioreactor 30L.


Creating a Pathway to a Career

Kanin says having had access to and learning to use the equipment enabled him to stand out among the crowd of job seekers during the pandemic. According to Dan Hayes, Director of the CoEIB and Professor of Biomedical Engineering at Penn State University, the benefits of the university’s collaboration with Sartorius continue to accrue. “The partnership began in 2018 with the Sartorius Fermentation Gallery and continued in 2021 with the creation of the Sartorius Cell Culture Facility. We are proud of this transformative partnership.”

Through the long-term collaboration, Sartorius will advance multidisciplinary teaching and research in biotechnology, supporting the education and preparation of the next generation of biotechnology leaders. “The partnership is an incredible milestone; it makes a difference for students, whether on-campus in our facilities or where internships have led to full-time employment at Sartorius,” stated Geanie Umberger, Associate Vice President for Research, Penn State University.


The partnership is an incredible milestone; it makes a difference for students, whether on-campus in our facilities or where internships have led to full-time employment at Sartorius.

Geanie Umberger, Associate Vice President for Research, Penn State University


For Kanin, it is important to share the lessons he has learned along the way with others. “I have realized that the people who set themselves apart from everyone else will always leave behind something distinguishable. I am thinking about what I have done in four years at Penn State that would leave an indentation on the community and people long after I am gone. I believed I could pave my own path. Now I try to seek or attract others to the path I am on."


    Check Out ~300 Open Positions at Sartorius in North America

Three Career Takeaways Kanin Shares

Look for Opportunities

The market is growing rapidly and there’s lots of potential here. The one thing I learned during my time in college is that you don’t have to figure out exactly what you want—there are some that do — for me, it’s about finding an environment where I can learn and grow.

Seek Mentors

I am grateful for the mentorship given by Ashik Sathish and Mark Signs, both Co-Directors of the Fermentation Facility at Penn State University. They took me under their wing and gave me the chance to prove my willingness to learn and grow. They helped me along the way to get where I wanted to go, and I thank them.

Grow Your Career

Today, I’m working for a company that has the right environment for growth. I can learn the skill set, but finding an environment that nurtures the employee to grow in their career is important to me. Here at Sartorius, I’m getting to be part of a lot of projects and things are gradually adding up.

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