Wheaton College Norton, Massachusetts

The business of science, the science of business

Course explores balance between “greater good,” profit

Every pill has a story. Before it got to a medicine cabinet, that pill had to pass the scrutiny of scientists toiling in labs. It had to win confidence in business meetings and prove itself safe to government regulators.

Along the way, that pill could cost $1 billion or more in investment, and go on to generate billions in profit. That path, in more technical terms, is called life science commercialization, and it drives major sectors of the U.S. economy. It affects taxpayers, doctors, politicians, patients and anyone buying or selling a product that was once developed in a bio lab. Yet few undergraduates in the United States actually learn about that process.

Last fall, Professor of Biology Robert Morris and Visiting Assistant Professor of Business and Management David Huizenga combined their experience and wisdom to form “Applied Health Science” (MGMT 298).

The course examined life science commercialization, and the tension between the good and greed that drives it. Students first mastered the fundamental ways that science and business meet—from funding and patents, to government regulations and profits. In turn, they got a glimpse of their different chosen concentrations functioning in a real-world context, whether they were majoring in the humanities, sciences or social sciences. Ultimately, the professors advocated embracing this tension, and applying it to the competing interests, ethical ideals and practical constraints in contemporary problems. [Read more...]

Working through winter break

Interns explore careers, expand knowledge

Winter break is traditionally a time for students to go home and visit family and friends or pick up a part-time job to cover college expenses. But last December and January, 26 Wheaton students spent their breaks learning new skills, engaging in creative endeavors, and exploring postgraduate opportunities.

In its second year, the Winternship initiative at Wheaton provides $500 stipends for students who want opportunities to be productive during winter break, says Lisa Gavigan, director of career services at the Filene Center for Academic Advising and Career Services.

Funding for the initiative comes from several different sources, including the Nancy Lyon Porter ’43 Community Service Fellowship program, the Blakely Fetridge Bundy ’66 Work and Learning Fellowship, and the Talanian Family Work & Learning Fellowship.

“With the stipends, students can have an enriching experience that connects to their academics and earn money,” says Ben Chalot, associate director of career services at the Filene Center. [Read more...]

Love of labor

Three alums begin careers as OB-GYNs together at hospital

Elizabeth McKay Drumm ’08

Elizabeth McKay Drumm ’08

It’s six o’clock on a winter night at the University of Massachusetts Memorial Medical Center in Worcester. Elizabeth McKay Drumm ’08, dressed in a white lab coat with a stethoscope slung around her neck, steps into the main lobby. The first-year OB-GYN resident, who will be at the teaching hospital until about 7 a.m. the next day, has no idea whether her overnight shift will be quiet or full of electronic pages from the emergency room.

Around the same time, the daytime shift is ending for Tara Slivinski Chute ’06 and Briana Jackson Huguenel ’08. The two senior OB-GYN residents both have had long but very differently colored days. Chute, in her fourth year as a resident, has had a tough one; she had to diagnose a miscarriage that morning. Huguenel, in her third year, has had one of the best; she delivered a pair of twins that afternoon. The babies were born early, and the second arrived feet first, but Huguenel delivered them safely despite the unexpected challenge. [Read more...]

Down-to-earth leadership

Nancy Pearlstine Conger ’67 takes reins as trustees board chair

By Andrew Faught

Nancy Pearlstine Conger ’67, who majored in history at Wheaton, never needs to look too far to be inspired by what is near and dear to her heart.

Her Rockaway Township, N.J., home rests on the crystalline shores of Green Pond, dug out by glacial activity more than 11,000 years ago. Nearby, legally protected wetlands lay in the shadow of Copperas Mountain, which on a clear day affords hikers views of the Manhattan skyline some 35 miles away. And within her home are plenty of reminders of her alma mater.

It is the perfect setting for the longtime conservationist and Wheaton loyalist, especially now as she steps into her new position leading the college into its next chapter as the newly elected chair of the Board of Trustees.

The role underscores her desire to protect the past, improve the present and plan for the future—a common thread that unites all the varied aspects of her life.

Those who know Conger say she’s a perfect choice to chair Wheaton’s board. She was unanimously elected to the post in February (and officially began July 1), after having served as vice chair alongside chair Tom Hollister for the past five years. [Read more...]