Celebrating the Women Scientists at BioLegend

The United Nations General Assembly established February 11 as the International Day of Women and Girls in Science to further gender equality and empower women and girls in science. The day celebrates the roles of women in science with an emphasis on recognizing women as “agents of change” and leaders driving innovation.

 

At BioLegend, we’re proud to support women scientists across the company. Nearly 60% of our employees are women and this representation is reflected at every level of management, including our executive team. This year, to celebrate women in science, we recognize some of the women leaders at BioLegend. We spoke with them about their career paths, the advice they have for those just entering the field, and the mentors and scientists who inspired them along the way.

 

Interested in joining our team? We’re looking for people ready to make a difference in a dynamic, friendly, and collaborative environment. Check out our careers page to find our latest job openings.

 

 

 

Nan Jiang, PhD

 

Senior Vice President, Operations

 

Nan Jiang is our Senior Vice President of Operations. She joined BioLegend in 2002 as a co-founder and has served in multiple leadership roles across our manufacturing and operations departments. Prior to joining BioLegend, she was the Manager of Reagent Development and Production at eBioscience (currently known as Affymetrix and a subsidiary of Thermo Fisher Scientific Inc.) and Manager of Process Development at PharMingen. Dr. Jiang received a B.S. in Chemistry from Fudan University in Shanghai, China and a Ph.D. in Bio-Organic Chemistry from Washington University in St. Louis.

 

What advice do you have for young women entering science?

 

NJ: Welcome to the world of science! You’re likely choosing the life sciences because you have a passion in finding solutions to fulfill the mission of improving health and saving lives. In this field, we are fortunate to have our passions and our missions fully aligned.

 

Some of us gradually grow into management roles in organizations. Our scientific training and experience help us solve technical challenges and provide guidance in continuous improvement of operational efficiencies. While I now serve as the SVP of Operations, I still wear my chemist hat and develop new products. So, always stay close to science.

 

Enjoy your journey where it takes you, either as a scientist or as a leader—or both!

 

Which women in science have inspired you?

 

NJ: When I was a little girl, I was inspired by Marie Curie. As a scientist, I draw inspiration from Nobel laureates. I joke that I was very close to the Nobel Prize because the 2015 Nobel Prize in Chemistry went to Aziz Sancar for mechanistic studies of DNA repair, which my PhD thesis was closely related to.

 

To become an effective leader, I also read the biographies of successful entrepreneurs, and I read books that teach me leadership skills. I’ve learned many qualities from the people I work with every day, including focus, discipline and empathy.

 

Keep an open mind and continue to learn. It is a life-long process!

 

 

 

Ashley Cornett, PhD

 

Regional Business Manager

 

Ashley has been with BioLegend for over 7 years, starting as a technical application scientist on our field team where she provided local product support. As a technical application scientist, she gave technical talks, provided on-site product demonstrations, and hosted lab meetings to discuss our portfolio and its relevance to our customers’ research projects. Now, she is one of two Regional Business Managers that oversee field operations in North America. She notes that it has been “a great career path for me where I am at the linchpin of sales and technical application support”.

 

What advice do you have for young women entering science?

 

AC: When people make an active decision to go into science, it sometimes originates as a decision based on the sheer fact that you were successful in science classes in school. I started my career path as a biochemistry major with a pre-med track thinking that I truly only had two avenues – research science or medical school. The world needs people that not only have an aptitude for science but a love and passion to talk about it as well. Don’t be afraid to go into science because you are afraid it will limit your career choice. There are so many options and my path is a prime example of a non-traditional one.

 

Which women in science have inspired you?

 

AC: One is my former Principal Investigator, Dr. Carol Lutz. Coming from a family of non-scientists, I never had a personal connection where I could have science-driven discussions. Carol filled that void for me. She was the perfect combination for me as a role model. She was social and bubbly, but also extremely bright and loved RNA research. After doing my first-year rotation in her lab, it was a no-brainer where I wanted to do my PhD thesis work. She was always energetic and positive. Her famous line to me when an experiment failed was, “Ashley that’s why they call it ‘RE-search!’”. I am forever grateful for her encouragement and support.

 

 

 

Anagha Divekar, PhD

 

Head of Custom Solutions Team/Sr. Scientist-Cell Analysis

 

Anagha moved to the US from India in 1996 after receiving her PhD in Microbiology. She then focused on understanding the immune response (specifically T cells) that is generated with different stimuli such as cancer, vaccines, infectious diseases, and autoimmunity, and determining how that response correlates with protection. She believes the cornerstone to this understanding is the availability of robust and sensitive tools to investigate these responses. At BioLegend, her team develops custom cell analysis reagents and contributes to developing high-quality, reliable products and assays to support this research.

 

What advice do you have for young women entering science?

 

AD: Scientific innovation needs passion, patience, and a “let’s do it” attitude. We can all be successful if we are willing to learn, believe in ourselves, and most importantly, enjoy what we do.

 

Which women in science have inspired you?

 

AD: Both my mother and my PhD advisor, Alka Gogate, showed me how we can use science and scientific observation to improve the lives of others. Dr. Gogate has spent her career bringing health services to those who do not have access or are unable to afford them. She is currently working at the Health and Beyond Foundation, delivering sustainable health solutions.

 

 

 

Peggy Just, PhD

 

Director of Quality Control

 

Peggy’s passion for science has led her through many different fields. After graduating from UC Davis with a degree in Zoology, she worked for a life science company and researched at the Bodega Marine Lab in a developmental evolution laboratory. The nature of the work inspired her to go back to school and get a PhD in developmental biology from SUNY Stony Brook. There she worked in a glycobiology lab studying invertebrate fertilization. From there, she did a couple of postdocs and developed a love for immunology and hematopoietic development.

 

She took those newfound interests into the life science industry at eBioscience/Affymetrix, where she developed new and novel products to support immunology and cancer biology fields. As she grew from scientist to director to VP of R&D, she learned the business and the customer’s needs. Currently, she leads the Quality Team at BioLegend, where she uses her expertise in customer needs, love of immunology, and desire to train scientists all while supporting the highest-quality life science reagents.

 

What advice do you have for young women entering science?

 

PJ: Science is an amazing field. Find a good mentor and learn the best practices. If you can’t find a good mentor, use that opportunity to learn what not to do. Working with people you respect and enjoy being around is more important than the type of science you do or the money you make. After all, we spend a lot of time working and we should make it enjoyable. I also think it’s good to take risks and change fields to learn something new. When you’re applying to new jobs, think differently about the roles and keep an open mind. Job descriptions don’t tell you about the environment and the ability to learn and grow.

 

Which women in science have inspired you?

 

PJ: Along the way, I have encountered many great teachers and scientists. Some, like Dr. Billie Swalla, taught me how to do science, and others, like my former boss, Lily Lai, fostered an environment that allowed me to grow.

 

At BioLegend, women scientists lead innovation, collaboration, and drive excellence at every level of the company, including product development, quality control, marketing, and emerging technologies. Today, we recognize their scientific contributions, mentorship, and encouragement.

 

 

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