A goat herder led his flock through the mountains of Lebanon. A youngster, Marinella Sandros, watched quietly from the distance. She noticed one of the goats was pregnant.
Sandros sat for hours waiting for the baby to be born, curious over how the baby would emerge from the mother.
“It was very interesting,” she said. “I started asking questions and trying to figure out how animals make babies. That really intrigued me.”
That was the first time she could remember experiencing an interest in science.
It’s been a long time since the Beirut-born Sandros watched that herd near her grandparent’s home.
She served as a Business Development Manager for Life Sciences for HORIBA Scientific in Piscataway, New Jersey. She was also the Surface Plasmon Resonance Imaging (SPRI) Product Line Manager.
Her journey took many turns and landed her in several destinations.
At the age of nine, Sandros and her family moved to Windsor, Ontario, Canada. It's just across the river from Detroit. The multicultural city was perfect for a young woman to learn French as a second language and go to school in a safe environment.
She was always curious about how things worked, always questioning others. At first she wanted to pursue medicine, with her interest in biology. But she was an undecided major during her first year at University of Windsor.
Chemistry came easily to her.
“The moment that I realized I wanted to pursue chemistry was when I started making drugs in the lab, in an organic chemistry course," she said. "When we first did an experiment to make aspirin, I understood that it was so easy to make a drug that people rely on.”
After securing her bachelor’s in chemistry, Sandros wanted to earn a master's degree in chemical engineering. After all, with that degree, you could get a job.
But the U.S. schools wouldn’t take her into their masters programs since her bachelor’s degree was from Canada. U.S. schools offered her Ph.D. tracks instead of two-year master’s programs. Sandros opted for a program at Wayne State University in Detroit. The faculty told her she had the option to leave the program after two years and still earn her master’s. “I couldn't figure out whether I wanted to be an analytical chemist, a biochemist, an inorganic chemist, or a physical chemist. Since I could not decide and had to choose an adviser, I put their names in a bowl and picked one out,” she said.
While earning her Ph.D., Sandros resisted focusing on biochemistry. She ended up working with organic and inorganic syntheses that her adviser needed for a project. She developed a love for biology by working in the lab, and earned her doctorate in bioinorganic chemistry.
Sandros did her post-doctoral studies in the biomedical engineering department at McGill University in Montreal, Quebec, Canada. She worked with people from a variety of disciplines, including cardiologists, neurologists, electrical engineers, dentists and mechanical engineers.
“That experience gave me the push to go further,” she said. “It was one of the most amazing disciplines I've experienced because it allows you to think not only as a scientist, but as an engineer and as a medical doctor. You had to change how you looked at things, to see them in a different way. You were able to come up with cool ideas and cool solutions. It was rewarding because it gave you the outlet to think outside the box.”
Her work led to a five-year professorship at the University of North Carolina in Greensboro. She taught nanoscience with a focus in biomedical research.
While teaching, HORIBA reached out to Sandros to work as a consultant for surface plasmon resonance imaging products she manages today. She produced some webinars and helps the company promote the product.
“It's simply a tool that allows you to measure interactions,” Sandros said. “You can use this instrument to monitor how strongly and quickly proteins or any type of materials in a biological interaction bind to their partner, and how fast they come off.”
That’s important, especially in the drug industry, because knowing these parameters promotes drug efficacy. Medical diagnostics is another area of use for surface plasmon resonance imaging.
The division has a mix of customers, primarily small biotech companies. Surface plasmon resonance imaging solutions are widely used in academics looking at drug interactions in the biochemistry and pharmacy departments.
For more information on surface plasmon resonance imaging, click here.
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