Research Associate, Histotechnology

Kevin works as a Research Associate at Acepix Biosciences in Hayward, California. He manages reagents and supplies as well as prepares samples and slides for inspection.

What college biotechnology program did you complete?
I attended the Microscopy and Histotechnology programs at Merritt College in Oakland, CA

What degree or certificate(s) do you hold?
I completed the Optical Microscopy and Histotechnology certificates in 2021.

Where are you currently working?
Acepix Biosciences

What is your job title?
Research Associate

What you do for your job?

  • I assist the project managers and histology department daily.
  • I rotate reagents for our manual stains and stock supplies every morning.
  • I make different grades of alcohol for the tissue processor and cell processor when it comes to reagent rotations.
  • I gross tissues that were fixed in our lab (inspect with the naked eye for initial diagnostic information), or sent in from our customers.
  • I embed a lot of cell pellets and tissue. I counter stain slides from the IHC machine
  • I also stain slides done by the histology department. Stains include Hematoxylin and Eosin, Trichrome, Van Giesons, PAS, PSR, and just hemaxtoxylin staining for quality checking.
  • I do some minor sectioning currently, small cell pellet projects or in house quality checks.
  • And I occasionally do a mouse dissection from time to time.

Please describe an average day at work.
An average day would be rotating fresh reagents in the morning for our deparaffinization and mounting station, quality check/counter staining station, and our manual special stains station. Also the cleaning and maintenance of the embedding stations both tissue and cell. Washing lab equipment, flicking sectioned slides to remove water and examining them for defects, knife lines, etc. Counter staining and staining, followed by mounting and using the auto cover slipper. If sectioned slides do not need to be stained, I box slides and make sure they are properly labeled and packed for shipping.

How did you decide on a biotechnology career?
I was contemplating a career change, but unsure of exactly what. My friend suggested I look into a histotechnology career and Merritt College's program. I found an alumni's story on Merritt's program, about how she went through a career change and what she expected. I reached out to her and she convinced me to try out the program. After about half a year into the program, a classmate connected me to her company and I started learning about what goes on in the biotechnology field through school and work.

Can you describe any challenges that you overcame in pursuing this career?
Initially, I was unsure of how to land a job in the field, and what to expect because I have had no real lab experience outside a school setting. With my instructors' help, and the advice of some classmates I built a pretty decent profile/portfolio. Merritt's microscopy and histotechnology program implemented a career building portion into the curriculum so that was nice. I felt more comfortable and ready to start with a job in the respective field. They explained how the workflow would be, what strengths you would need, and what you would learn.

What advice would you give someone who is interested in a biotech career?
Connect with your peers, and instructors. I think networking helps, especially in the Bay Area. Also a lot of the big bio tech companies aren't just looking for people that qualify for the job, they are looking at people that can communicate effectively and find a perfect fit personality wise. If possible attend some events that can shed insight on different biotech careers, there are some positions I've never heard of and they seem interesting.

Is there anything you'd like to add?
Be diligent! Once you start applying what you learned in school to the job itself, over time it makes more sense. Learn and be open to new things, because what you learned can be different place to place, time to time. It's an evolving field.

  • Cover slipping: After staining slides, mounting process and cover slipping
  • Cryobank for cell lines--cells are stored in labeled boxes immersed in liquid nitrogen
  • IHC with some antibody dilution
  • Removing cassettes that were processed over night, ready for embedding
  • Sectioning a cell pellet block
  • Close up of a ribbon from sectioning--cell pellet block
  • Embedding station for cell pellets
  • Applied cervical break to mouse, harvesting brain and more organs. 10% NBF is in the background to fix organs