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Meet Alisa Lehman!

Meet Alisa Lehman, human genetics science writer and outdoor enthusiast!

Hi, I'm Alisa Lehman!

What kind of work do you do?

I’m a Product Scientist at 23andMe, a direct-to-consumer genetics service. As part of the Product Science team I work to make sure our reports are scientifically sound and and meet FDA standards. I also help to ensure that our reports are written in ways users can understand. I spend most of my days reading and evaluating the scientific literature, documenting the validity of the genetic connections, and explaining those connections in simple, clear language.

How did you become interested in biology, and what did you study?

A few weeks into my first biology class in high school I was hooked. I loved learning how, at the most basic level, all living things are built on the same principles. With the help of an incredibly supportive high school chemistry teacher, I was able to attend a program that paired high school students with a local university microbiology research lab for the summer. After that first summer working in a lab, I continued gaining experience in molecular biology, microbiology, and genetics throughout college in both classes and work in research labs. After graduation I worked as an associate scientist in industry trying to develop new antibiotics then went on to graduate school for my Ph.D.
It was during grad school that I started doing more science writing and communication; I loved, and still do love, explaining science to people even more than doing the science myself. In grad school I expanded my writing skills and communication skills by volunteering at a science museum (The Tech Museum of Innovation), both interacting with visitors and writing responses to public questions about genetics (Ask a Geneticist). And now in my current role I’m able to help make genetics personal with my research and writing.

What do you do for fun in your spare time?

When I’m not geeking out to wacky science stories, I spend a good chunk of my time cooking, and hanging out with friends and family. I also like taking the time to get outside, either running or hiking, whenever I can.
Alisa out for a hike.

What’s your one piece of advice for people interested in biology?

Explore, explore, explore. Biology encompasses so many different subjects. Like working outside? Maybe ecology field work is for you. Interested in how humans and other animals think? Neuroscience might be right for you. Want to learn the basics of how all living things work? Genetics or biochemistry could be your cup of tea.
Even if you’ve decided on a specialty within biology, a career in biology can be anything from working in the field, to teaching at the high school or university level, to working in the lab at a biotech or pharmaceutical company or in marketing, business development, or science writing. Take the time to try out all you can; curiosity and the ability to think logically are the most important skills you can develop no matter what you end up doing.

Want to join the conversation?

  • blobby green style avatar for user Ines
    How can the Biologist work in Marketing,Business Dvp.. ? isn't he limited in the lab while the world is in progress and gives more attention to Technology and Economy .. that's how i lost my motivation about my study..However i'm trying to get it back
    Thanks :)
    (2 votes)
    Default Khan Academy avatar avatar for user
    • winston baby style avatar for user Ivana - Science trainee
      Wrong. Majority of biologists do not work in a lab or ever tackle into science.

      Even PhD holders become unemployed or work in governmental institutions as consultants.

      You can work in medical or biotechnology industry, to work as MSL (salesperson), as representative of NGOs. Many positions require you to do administrative tasks and spend time with laws and regulatives. You can also be scoentific project coordinator.

      You will see and enjoy if you diskike lab. There is more work for those outside of lab.

      Also you can be teaching.
      (1 vote)