Graduate Alumna Focus | Alexandra Faulkner
Alexandra Faulkner earned a M.S. in Bioinformatics at Hood College in 2020. She recently started a position at Leidos as a Compliance Analyst in the Contracts and Acquisitions Directorate.
- Bioinformatics (M.S.)
- Bioinformatics (C)
- Computer Science & Information Technology
"The Bioinformatics program allows you to learn the basics and build a foundation in computer science which you can then combine with a biology background to develop students with strong training in both fields."
Please provide a brief education and career background.
After completing an Associate’s degree in Biology at Hagerstown Community College, I transferred to Shepherd University where I received a Bachelor’s degree in Biology with a minor in traditional Chemistry.
While completing my undergraduate and graduate degrees I worked in a retail clothing store in Hagerstown, MD. During my time there I gradually moved up into leadership roles within the team.
Shortly after I began my last semester at Hood College, I was hired for my current position as a contractor with Leidos Biomedical Research, Inc. at the Frederick National Lab for Cancer Research. I work as a Compliance Analyst in the Contracts and Acquisitions Directorate.
How did you end up choosing Hood College for your Master’s degree journey?
When choosing where to complete my graduate work, I wanted to choose a college close to home and with strong science and mathematics departments.
Hood College had a strong reputation as well as great faculty. A benefit to the Bioinformatics M.S. at Hood is the dual gateway program. I had no prior experience with coding or essential programming languages like R and Python as my background was in biology.
The program allows you to learn the basics and build a foundation in computer science which you can then combine with a biology background to develop students with strong training in both fields – which is vital in today’s world.
What made the Bioinformatics field interesting to you?
When completing my undergraduate coursework, I always found that my greatest interest was in analysis and computational work associated with results from the lab.
My academic advisor at Shepherd initially introduced me to the topic of “big data”, which eventually led me to researching and deciding to pursue a degree in Bioinformatics as I wanted to utilize my background in life sciences while developing a knowledge of data handling and analysis.
You recently started your role with Leidos. Could you please tell us more about that role and how did your degree help in transitioning from retail to biotech industry?
The Contracts and Acquisitions Directorate assists with the operational arm of Leidos Biomedical and works in tandem with not only other operational groups such as Finance and Project Management, but also works closely with the scientific programs.
Given the constant communication between the operational groups and scientific programs, I am able to utilize both my strong scientific background as well as the work ethic and communication skills gained from my position in retail in my day to day roles with Leidos.
Do you have any advice for potential students?
I would highly recommend the Bioinformatics program at Hood to potential students.
Bioinformatics Program Director, Miranda Darby, Ph.D., has done a great job of developing the coursework for the master’s degree and continues to add new classes.
She as well as other professors who help teach the coursework are able to relate the topics studied in the program to real life experiences and research they are completing.