Cool Science Job in Chicago: Lab Manager at The Field Museum
If you’re visiting The Field Museum, head to the 2nd floor where you’ll find 6 large glass windows separating two similar, yet distinct worlds. On the outside the DNA Discovery Center will teach you about the code of life with hands-on interactives, videos, and a colorful model of DNA. Peer through the glass to witness scientists who are changing what we know about life on our planet.
Inside the window you’ll see a busy, multi-user core facility known as the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution. Researchers are analyzing DNA samples collected by museum scientists around the planet. Extracted from sharks in the Atlantic Ocean to fish near New Zealand and every animal in between, studying DNA helps us understand the Tree of Life. With many scientists, supplies, and interns entering & exiting like molecules in a cell, one person is in charge of managing the flow of the lab.
Meet Kevin Feldheim, PhD, the A. Watson Armour III Manager of the Pritzker Laboratory for Molecular Systematics and Evolution. That’s a mouth full but Kevin manages the lab of up to 35 users (3 staff, 15 or so grad students and other researchers, and 20 summer interns). His job skills require a heterogeneous mixture of knowledge about business, science, and education. At any given moment he might be dishing out lab chores or placing an order for PCR tubes, sequencing the DNA of a shark, or teaching intern Prahi Thirkateh about DNA microsatellites. And everyday from 11-12 he is part of a team of scientists who host Ask A Scientist hour. Ask any question you want!
Kevin’s job is not easy. Think about it:
- Sequencing DNA can be tedious
- Managing a lab includes responsibilities such as balancing a budget, ordering supplies, dishing out lab chores, planning projects, and on and on…
- Training teenage interns…well….have you had to manage a bunch of teenagers before?
Everyone give Kevin Feldheim, PhD a round of applause for his hard work. But also be a little bit jealous because his job is very cool. He studies DNA to help us understand evolutionary patterns of the past, and at the same time trains scientists of the future. Oh…and every once in a while he travels to Belize, the Bahamas, and Brazil to play with sharks. (Photo on the left is from The Field Museum website)
So, next time you visit The Field, find the DNA Discovery Center on the 2nd floor and look through the glass windows to see Kevin’s world as he mixes science, business, and education. If you listen closely, he also likes to mix-in a collection of electronic music. Thank you for reading, letUbeU!