Today we’re highlighting Shannon Kuyper, a research program manager at the Intellectual Ventures Laboratory. Shannon’s science roots combined with her business training gives her a unique perspective on the shared challenges and opportunities for many of the lab’s projects.    

In her spare time, Shannon competes in Olympic weightlifting competitions around the country. If you’d like to learn more about Shannon and her work at the lab, check out the lab’s original interview.

Q: What inspires you most about what you do?

A: Nothing is better than bringing the right people together to collaborate to accomplish something. That is a lot of what I do every day. I have a nice, broad view of all that the Lab is doing, as well as Global Good. So I love making connections to bring teams together.  When teams are really empowered to bring their collective expertise to fruition, it just feels so good. Everyone I work with wants to do great work, and accomplish great things. Everyone is really smart on his or her own, but collectively, it is amazing what true teamwork can accomplish!

Q: What do you bring to the IV Lab team that is unique or different than the rest of the team?

A:  My experience in both science and business helps me bridge the two worlds. I can understand both aspects and connect the two. Early in my career, I was a chemist but in general, I can get the “gist” of the science behind what we are working on. Because of my inclination of science, I am able to comprehend different disciplines and understand what different scientific processes require. I have a desire to understand what the different disciplines bring to a project and I am able to pick things up quickly.

I also understand what it means to work on transitioning science and research into products that we want to commercialize and get out in distribution in our regions of interest – primarily low resource settings, in Africa. My MBA and my exposure to typical phase gate approach for development and release of new products at Philips also have helped me bridge the science and business worlds.

Q: What makes working at the Lab unique?

A: It’s a kooky place that is not quite academic, not quite corporate. It’s a great blend between the two. Also, I like that we really try to pull together cross functional teams to work on a problem together. The different perspectives make a huge difference. A biochemist working with an engineer, and collaborating with both external partners as well as the Global Good team brings both business and public health expertise to the picture.

Q: Who was an important influence along your path?

A:  Well, always my mom. My mom had a high school education and always encouraged me to decide on my own how to chart my own path. She supported me and made enormous sacrifices.

Another big influence career-wise was my first manager out of college, when I worked as a chemist in a HPLC lab at Glaxo (when it was just called Glaxo, not GlaxoSmithKline). He was my first mentor and was the one who encouraged me to apply and go to graduate school to pursue my PhD in Chemistry.

Q: Anything else you want to share?

A:  A lot of people at IV Lab know this, but I also love to train and compete in Olympic weightlifting. It feels so good to lift heavy things regularly! Last year I competed quite a bit, including at the National Masters Championship in Louisiana. I won silver in my division. I really appreciate that folks who know I do this regularly ask me about it and encourage me. It’s a little quirky, but it’s something I enjoy. I have taken the last few months off from competing, but I am scheduled to compete again in May, locally. I still love to lift and kick major butt.


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