Biochemistry Alumni

Photo of Steven P. KaulSteven P. Kaul

B.S., Natural Sciences: Biochemistry, May 2007

Associate Manufacturing Chemist, Sigma-Aldrich
Responsible for the purification of proteins and enzymes from microbial sources.

Sigma-Aldrich, located in St. Louis, MO, is a world-class chemical manufacturing company operating in 35 countries with over 6,800 employees. Facilities are located around the globe and include Madison, Milwaukee, and Sheboygan Falls of Wisconsin. Sigma-Aldrich prides itself on being a role model and leading life science and high technology company. Employees take great pride in the products they produce, from bench top to industrial scales, within a high quality environment with outstanding Quality Assurance Systems in place. The 180,000 products offered by Sigma-Aldrich are used in a wide variety of domains from scientific research, to biotechnology, to key components in pharmaceutical manufacturing. Life science companies, university and government institutions, hospitals, and industries regularly utilize Sigma-Aldrich’s products.

I proudly work in one of Sigma-Aldrich’s production facilities in St. Louis. My primary responsibility as a production chemist is to manufacture proteins and enzymes from natural sources for sale to customers worldwide. A few of the many techniques utilized in such manufacturing procedures include: fermentation, extraction, low- and high-pressure column chromatography, centrifugation, diafiltration, and numerous analytical procedures. While the scale is drastically different, most of what I learned at the UW-Madison is integral on the job. Safety and quality are also foremost concerns that are unique to the industry setting. Some of the more notable products my group directly produces are Proteinase K, Pepstatin A, Collagenase, and Superoxide Dismutase from microbial sources.

The UW-Madison provided me with an outstanding educational background to join and quickly succeed at Sigma-Aldrich. Each day I go to work I find myself utilizing the skills and knowledge learned in the classroom. Perhaps the greatest “asset” I obtained was through my internship with Sigma-Aldrich during my junior year. The internship provided me with invaluable hands on experience in an industry setting that allowed me to easily integrate from an academic setting into a corporate culture upon graduation. Both Sigma-Aldrich and I benefited from that internship. The project yielded outstanding benefits for the company, Sigma-Aldrich was able to see how I worked as an effective employee within its culture, and I was ultimately offered a full-time position upon graduation, which I eagerly accepted!

Living and working in St. Louis is outstanding. The city has much to offer, and not just Anheuser-Busch products. There are numerous parks spread out among the city (Forest Park is tremendous); countless sporting clubs to participate in; professional football, baseball, and hockey teams to cheer on; and a one-of-a-kind culture. The Gateway to the West is a great place to live, work, and grow.

Missing the Badgers’ games is hard, but I have found comfort with the St. Louis chapter of the Wisconsin Alumni Association. Whether meeting to watch the game on the big screen, competing in a Big10 alumni blood drive challenge, or squaring off against Marquette alumni on the Kickball diamond, St. Louis is just as much fun, with a hint of Madison in the mix!         

To check out potential careers at Sigma-Aldrich, visit the Career Section of the Sigma Aldrich Website.


Photo of Jenna EunJenna Eun

B.S., Biochemistry, 2007
Ph.D., Biochemistry, 2007-2012

Zip-lining in the rainforest of Costa Rica, Summer 2008

I came from South Korea to attend a high school in Minnesota for two years. After going through many cultural adjustments and language barriers, I was getting tired of adjusting to new settings and decided to stay in Minnesota for college. However, my dad and high school teachers strongly recommended that I apply to UW-Madison. I was “forced” to visit the school, and during the visit, I experienced the friendly atmosphere of the campus and learned how strong its academics are. So if you are unsure about what you want to pursue in college or want to combine different fields, UW-Madison is the ideal place for you.

Once I chose to attend UW-Madison, it was time to decide which major to declare. From the very beginning, I wanted to major in biochemistry because I enjoyed both biology and chemistry and I knew that the Biochemistry Department here is very prestigious. Some people may say that your major department’s reputation is only important for graduate school, but it is also important for undergraduate studies. I interacted with internationally renowned professors, and there are many research opportunities for undergraduates.

I started undergraduate research in the summer after the first year of college. I joined a lab in the Chemistry Department since I came to know the professor from an introductory chemistry course. I studied protein folding based on a model protein from E. coli using biophysical methods. It was an invaluable experience to design and conduct my experiments, to discuss the progress with graduate students and professors, and to share my research with others through poster sessions and seminars. Close to graduation, I published a paper as a result of my research. Without a doubt, I believe that my success in undergraduate research was made possible because of the excellent faculty and supportive environment at UW-Madison. In addition to many research opportunities on campus, the school strongly supports undergraduate research in all aspects of academia – there are several campus-wide undergraduate research fellowships and poster sessions.

I joined UBSO (Undergraduate Biochemistry Student Organization) in my freshmen year. Because of its relatively small size, it was easy to get involved and take a leadership role in the organization. I started as the treasurer, then became the vice president, and eventually, the president. Although it was sometimes challenging to balance class work and student club involvement, I learned a lot about leadership and group dynamics and also made many new friends through the experience.

Upon graduation, I applied, and was accepted into the Ph. D. program in biochemistry here at UW-Madison, and have started a fascinating thesis project about bacterial cell shape and physiology in the Weibel Lab.

Outside of the lab, I enjoy canoeing in Lake Mendota with Hoofers, biking with friends to the Olbrich Garden, and going to many free concerts on and near campus. Even though I have been living in Madison for about five years now, it is still possible to find things that I’ve never done before. It is a huge advantage that both the big campus and the friendly city have a lot of cultural and outdoor activities.


Photo of Michael W. CullenMichael W. Cullen

B.S., Biochemistry, 2002
M.D., University of Wisconsin School of Medicine & Public Health, 2006

Resident in internal medicine, Mayo Clinic, Rochester, Minnesota

As one of its founding members and a past President (’01-’02), it is inspiring to see UBSO continuing to persevere and grow. I still remember the evening in April, 2000 when a handful of undergraduates, including myself, met with Dr. David Nelson in the 4th-floor conference room of the new biochemistry building. With some exciting ideas and an incredible amount of institutional support, we formally organized UBSO in September, 2000. Now entering its 8th year, UBSO continues to offer valuable counseling, mentoring, and networking services to undergraduate biochemistry students.

Originally from Janesville, Wisconsin, I came to UW Madison in the fall of 1998 knowing I sought a pre-med track but unclear about my specific major. After exploring several options my freshman year, I settled on biochemistry. A biochemistry degree gave me a broad knowledge base of fundamental disciplines while fostering ample opportunities for individualized mentored research. I worked in the lab of Dr. James Ntambi for 2 years investigating the role of the p53 tumor suppressor gene at regulating steryl-CoA desaturase (SCD) gene synthesis. I received the Hilldale Undergraduate Scholarship and completed a Senior Honors Thesis under Dr. Ntambi’s direction.

After graduating with a B.S. in 2002, I stayed in Madison for medical school. An undergraduate biochemistry degree provided me with a firm foundation of scientific reasoning and biomedical principles necessary for success in the pre-clinical course work of medical school’s first two years. While completing the various clinical rotations during my 3rd year of medical school, I decided to pursue specialty training in internal medicine with eventual sub-specialization in cardiology. I graduated from UW Medical School in 2006 and entered Mayo Clinic’s internal medicine residency program in Rochester, Minnesota. I am now a second year resident with intentions of entering a cardiology fellowship at the completion of my residency.

Throughout my training, I have found the leadership, research, and mentoring skills fostered as a member of UBSO instrumental to my career development. I encourage current UW-Madison undergraduates to take full advantage of the service and networking opportunities UBSO offers. I wish UBSO the best of luck moving forward. And finally, Go Badgers!!