Student Success Story: Justin Lathia

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"As a biomedical engineering student at Drexel University, I attended classes enthusiastically, but my fascination grew into commitment once I began a cooperative education rotation in vaccine manufacturing at Merck & Co., Inc.

"It was such a positive experience that I decided to pursue a second co-op at Merck & Co., Inc. and transfer to a more technical role in bio/sterile validation. The added pharmaceutical industry experience I gained, plus a desire for more training, motivated me to upgrade my degree program to a dual B.S./M.S.

"At the end of my second co-op, I learned of a poster contest sponsored by ISPE. I immediately signed up because I wanted to present my co-op project, as well as have the experience of creating and presenting a poster. The poster I created was entitled "Alternative Methods to Cleaning Validation." During the contest, I had an opportunity to interact with many industry professionals in the Philadelphia area and received positive feedback on the project. I also was lucky enough to win and present my poster at the 2001 ISPE Annual Meeting in Las Vegas later that year. My experience at the Annual Meeting was the highlight of my ISPE student experience.

"While I was doing my master's work, I presented another poster at both the Chapter and the International Student Poster Competition. I met many other students and industry professionals at those events and was able to share my work again. I also co-authored a companion paper, along with Dalia El-Sherif, Nikhil O. Dhoot, and Margaret A. Wheatly: "Surface Modification of Polymeric Contrast Agents for Cancer Targeting." It explores the fundamentals of ultrasound agents, and may be found in the January/February 2004 issue of ISPE's magazine, Pharmaceutical Engineering.

"My ISPE experience solidified my commitment to the field and helped me gain exposure to a career perspective that I would not have had otherwise. Aside from the academic/professional aspects of ISPE, I also enjoyed the social aspect. I have been involved in many student societies but none compared to ISPE. Through ISPE, I met many interesting people and had the opportunity to travel to many events: Annual Meetings (Las Vegas and Orlando) and INTERPHEX (New York). If you have any desire to work in the pharmaceutical industry, joining ISPE is a must. You won't regret it."


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