Craig M. Nelson
Clinical Laboratory Scientist (CLS)
Kaiser Permanente Medical Center Fontana, CA
California State University, Fullerton
Microbiology, California State Polytechnic University,
USC/LAC School of Medical Technology
Education, Loyola Marymount University
Certificate of Advanced Studies Bioethics, Loyola Marymount
Religion, Claremont Graduate University
performs diagnostic testing in a clinical laboratory at a large
medical center. He spends about 20% of his time conducting research
and developing new tests.
be afraid to put in the time necessary to excel and never cease being a
fields of biology do you work in?
Clinical Laboratory Medicine.
When did you know you wanted to become a Biologist?
I knew after I completed my first college
What was your college experience like?
It was a wonderful "hands-on" approach to science
that I appreciated most. My senior project took 12 months and I enjoyed
the responsibility and challenge involved in conducting the research. I
worked with Hemophilus influenza type b in its encapsulated form and
examined its leukotactic effect in vitro.
Did you incorporate work experiences while you were an undergrad?
I worked at the student health center as a lab
assistant to the CLS on campus. I performed environmental testing at the
various food facilities on campus and assisted in various lab
preparations from checking agar plates for bacterial growth to washing
and preparing laboratory glassware.
How did you get your first job?
I landed my first job through the placement center
at Cal Poly as a quality control microbiologist at Avon in Pasadena, CA.
I tested various products for pathogens to make sure consumers were
What's the most rewarding thing about being a Biologist?
Learning, staying up with the fast moving
technology, and most of all making a difference in people's lives.
Is there an example you can provide that shows how something you've
worked on has positively impacted the world?
The last two papers I published both had to do
with improving patient care by improving test methodologies. One study
impacted patients undergoing parathyroid explorations and the other
helped patients with deep venous thrombosis (DVT).
Do you spend a fair amount of time traveling?
Mostly in Southern California.
Do you have a mentor? Or did you in your college years?
Dr. Robert Barlet was my undergrad mentor. He was
not only brilliant, but welcomed the many questions I had while doing
coursework and projects.
Do you find yourself working more in a team situation, or more alone?
Today I work in a very supportive team setting
that enables me to accomplish the collegial goals we have in our
Do you find you are able to balance work with social/family life while
working in your current job?
Yes, I spend a great amount of quality time with
my wife of 35 years. We like hiking, traveling, and spending time at
Disneyland. I am also an avid runner. I have run marathons,
half-marathons and even once ran to the top of Mt. Baldy (10,000 feet).
If you had to do it all over again, would you still become a Biologist?
I love working in "applied science" devising ways
to use biological technology to improve people's lives.
Did you think that school prepared you for the way the work gets done in
the real world?
Both Cal poly and USC/LAC were excellent places to
learn and grow. I gained outstanding practical and theoretical skills
that help me to this day.
Where do you see jobs for Biologists in the future? What should students
be doing to prepare themselves to take on those roles?
The future lies in adapting to the world of PCR,
RNA, nanos and taking and mastering as many biochemistry courses as you
What other advice do you have for precollege students?
Don't be afraid to put in the time necessary to
excel and never cease being a lifetime learner.