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Beyond the Bench: Analytical Development and Professional Growth

Meet Courtney Reichert. She’s always on the go. From representing Alcami in charity races to mentoring new analysts in the labs, Courtney is the epitome of the Alcami Way. Her sense of awe for all things science is exemplified in her dynamic background in both analytical testing and biotechnology testing and research. Courtney is currently part of the analytical testing team. Based out of Alcami’s Wilmington, NC labs, she also travels to the Durham, NC and Charleston, SC labs to train analysts and share her experience and enthusiasm.

Fresh out of a United Way planning meeting, Courtney offers to talk with us to gain a better understanding of analytical testing and offer advice to young professionals.

Thanks for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk. Did you grow up knowing that you’d be a scientist?   
Hi, I am excited to share my views! Growing up, I had a love for all things science. There was never a moment in my life that I doubted what I wanted to do. There is always knowledge to be gained and so much more to discover in the world. Biology is all around us. We can use virtually any living cell or organism and manipulate it to discover something new. The limit is never-ending to what you can learn.

Going back to the basics, what is your day-to-day involvement in the pharmaceutical development process?   
My day-to-day currently involves performing analytical testing requested from the client. I work on products starting from research and development phases all the way through to commercial phase. The tests I perform range from basic testing (such as appearance, pH, and osmolarity) to more complex testing (such as HPLC, GC, UPLC, KF, cKF). Being the final person to validate that a product is satisfactory, it is critical I perform tests precisely to help ensure the client’s success and prevent an investigation of the sample.

How do you keep up with the changing landscape of pharmaceutical development outside of the labs?   
To stay relevant, I network and research. I connect with people in different areas of expertise to inquire about new scientific methods and the groundwork it took to develop these new processes. I also investigate advanced techniques and products that are out on the market to see how they work. One current study I am intrigued with is “The promise and challenge of In Vivo Delivery for Genome Therapeutics.” This case is a great example of how small molecules are also used for biotech purposes.

Analytical Testing

What are some of the cutting-edge analytical testing techniques out there?   
HPLC and UPLC are two of my favorites because there is so much to learn and test. The possibilities are endless. Innovative techniques are discovered every day. Alcami looks for new opportunities to grow, such as new development in types of chromatography (HPLC, UPLC, GC).

I’ve seen you participate on an advisory panel for college students interested in pursuing a career in pharmaceutical development. What advice would you give in regards to their collegiate years? Finding a career in the field?   
Networking in college is a huge thing. Get to know people. Make friends outside of your specific field. You never know who will be able to help you in the long run. Everyone has something they’re really good at. Expand your knowledge and help others expand theirs. Also, take advantage of your professors. They have been where you are and know how difficult it can be to find a job you love. They will be one of your biggest resources. Look for internships while obtaining your degree. Alcami offers an internship program that puts you in the front line of the workforce, giving you an experience that cannot be gained in a classroom setting. Interns get to apply what they have studied to real projects for real clients. Aside from the experience, interns are able to add professionals to their network as well.

Why work at Alcami?  
Hands down, the people I work with is why I chose to work for this company. Alcami has an incredible analytical development group in and out of the lab that never stops learning. To me, there is nothing better than constantly improving yourself. I have met so many people that have helped me grow as both an analyst and a person. Our scientists are constantly applying new techniques and improving on the ones that Alcami currently offers, for example, HPLC, UPLC, GC, and dissolution. If there is a product brought to us, we do everything we can to learn about the product and determine what tests should be performed to help our clients. Helping our clients helps their patients.

About the Contributor
Courtney Reichert joined Alcami in 2014. Her current role involves analytical testing as well as mentoring and training new employees. She has over four years of experience in biotechnology and analytical techniques. Courtney holds a Bachelor's of Science degree in Pharmaceutical Sciences from Campbell University and an MBA from the University of North Carolina Wilmington.