Careers à la carte Program

Careers à la carte is an informal venue where a pair of professionals discuss their career path and experiences in a specific career field. Speakers will provide a brief (<10 minute) background on their career experiences, while the majority of the program will be an interactive dialogue based on the audience questions. This also provides an opportunity to network with the speakers and other attendees.
Thursday, October 29, 2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm
1105A Scaife Hall
Deanne Buffalari, PhD
Assistant Professor, Psychology Neuroscience
Westminster College
Nadine Lehrer, PhD
Assistant Professor, Food Studies
Chatham University

Deanne Buffalari, PhD, is an assistant professor of neuroscience and psychology at Westminster College, a small, liberal arts college in northwestern Pennsylvania.​ She also serves as the neuroscience program director at Westminster College. After receiving a B.S in Neuroscience from Allegheny College, Deanne earned her Ph.D. in Neuroscience at the University of Pittsburgh. She has taught and performed research at the University of Pittsburgh, the Medical University of South Carolina, the College of Charleston, and Chatham University. Deanne's research focuses on how adaptive behaviors become maladaptive, with a particular emphasis on addiction and stress. Deanne also performs research on effective teaching and outreach approaches that combine neuroscience with other disciplines. 

Nadine Lehrer, PhD, is an Assistant Professor in Food Studies at Chatham University. She holds a PhD in natural resources science and management from the University of Minnesota and a BA in psychology from Yale University. Nadine’s work has focused on U.S. farm policy, pesticide use in fruit orchards, sustainability in agriculture, and pedagogy for teaching food and agriculture.  She teaches courses including Dairy: From Pasture to Plate, Sustainable Meat Production, U.S. Agricultural Policy, Global Agriculture, and Research Methods. She is author of “U.S. Farm Bills and Policy Reform: Ideological Conflicts over World Trade, Renewable Energy, and Sustainable Agriculture” and has published in Agriculture and Human Values, Biological Control, Journal of Environmental Planning and Management, and Renewable Agriculture and Food Systems, among others. Prior to her graduate work, Nadine also spent time working in urban tree care, in social services, on vegetable and livestock farms, and in agriculture and forestry in Central and South America.


Friday, December 4, 2015 - 12:00pm - 1:30pm
S100A Starzl Biomedical Science Tower
Katy Wack, PhD
Lead Clinical Scientist, Omnyx
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Nathan Yates, PhD
Associate Professor, Department of Cell Biology
University of Pittsburgh
Scientific Director, Biomedical Mass
Spectrometry Center

Katy Wack, PhD, is a lead clinical scientist at the digital pathology company, Omnyx, a joint venture of UPMC and GE and Healthcare. In this role, she leads the scientific content development and analysis in the premarket approval (PMA) Omnyx Clinical Trial for premarket approval (PMA) from the FDA using the Omnyx© Integrated Digital Pathology (IDP) system. This study spans 4 sites across the U.S., consisting of over 2000 patient cases, and aims to demonstrate safety and effectiveness in using digital pathology for primary diagnosis across all organ systems and diagnoses. In addition to working on other clinical trials for Omnyx, Katy helps to design studies to demonstrate value in using the Omnyx system, to test new algorithms to aid pathologists in their diagnoses, and to demonstrate the health economic benefit of using the Omnyx digital pathology system. In her job, she depends on extensive collaboration with pathologists, engineers, regulatory experts, and many others to achieve progress.  Katy received her B.S. from Carnegie Mellon, her M.S. in Toxicology in Biological Engineering from MIT and her PhD in Cell Biology at the University of Pittsburgh, working in the Center for Biological Engineering for her advisor, Donna Beer Stolz, PhD. In her thesis work, she demonstrated the role of podocyte injury in causing age-related chronic kidney disease in a mouse model of accelerated aging. Previously, Katy has been heavily involved in teaching and outreach at MIT, the University of Rochester and in the University of Pittsburgh’s histology course for medical students. She resides in Mt. Lebanon with her husband and daughter. 


Nathan Yates, PhD, is an experimental analytical chemist who has pioneered advances in ion trap mass spectrometry, proteomics, and cloud computing. Early in his career, Nathan was focused on advancing a new type of mass spectrometer, the quadrupole ion trap, as an ultra-sensitive instrument capable of fully-automated on-line tandem mass spectrometry.  He was a principal architect and implementer of the “Ion Catcher Mass Spectrometry” software suite that introduced the use of computer generated scan functions and real-time data acquisition methods to enable tandem mass spectrometry on the chromatographic time scale.  These on-line data dependent acquisition methods were later commercialized by Finnigan Corp., are in widespread use today, have heavily influenced the evolution of LC-MS/MS instrumentation, and are fundamental to rapid growth of proteomics research. 

After completing his graduate and postdoctoral studies, Nathan joined Merck and Co. Inc. to develop new methods to identify novel drug leads present in complex combinatorial libraries1-3. He developed and distributed LibView, a software tool that compared ultra-complex spectra containing hundreds of thousands of drug like molecules to predictive models, enabling subtle changes in structure and abundance could be pin-pointed and identified. 

Building on the LibView work, Nathan became fascinated with the unbiased analysis of ultra-complex mixtures and invented experimental and computation approach for comparing biological samples without the use of chemical labels or internal standards.  He invented “Differential Mass Spectrometry (dMS)” a label free approach for quantifying and identifying biologically relevant proteins in complex multi-factorial experiments4.  The dMS approach became the foundation for Merck’s proteomic biomarker discovery platform and was applied to large scale biomarker discovery efforts in in neuroscience, metabolic disorders, cardiovascular disease, and other key therapeutic areas5-12.  Nathan and colleagues industrialized the dMS approach which was later adopted by most major pharma companies as the Elucidator Proteomics Suite sold by Rosetta Biosoftware13

In 2011, Nathan joined the University of Pittsburgh with the goal of enabling large scale proteomics studies in an academic setting.  Because dMS requires highly specialized software and significant computational resources, Nathan partnered with Andrey Bondarenko (Infoclinika) to create a cloud-based dMS analysis platform that enables anyone with an internet connection to carry out large scale quantitative proteomics studies.   One major focus of Nathan’s laboratory is to develop personalized proteomics technologies that allow individuals to create and monitor their own health by tracking proteomic and metabolic profiles in urine and other clinically accessible bio-fluids.

As the Scientific Director of the Biomedical Mass Spectrometry Center, Nathan seeks out academic collaborations in basic, translational, and clinical research that drive the development of new technologies and innovation, while advancing the use of mass spectrometry at the University of Pittsburgh.  Working with investigators from the departments of Cell Biology, Psychiatry, Pathology, Drug Discovery, and the Cancer Institute, our lab is involved in the elucidation of key players in biological pathways, the discovery of molecular targets for novel therapeutics, and identification and translation of candidate biomarkers14-19

Mass spectrometry is highly collaborative and multi-disciplined field of study that brings together talented professionals with diverse backgrounds and expertise.  If you are passionate about science and enjoy working with others, mass spectrometry can be a great place.  Nathan’s lab works closely with companies in the technology and pharmaceutical sectors.   Current academic-industrial partnerships include collaborations with New Objective, Infoclinika, University of Washington, Scripps Florida, Bristol Myers Squibb, Novartis, Merck, and the Pittsburgh Pirates.  Together, Nathan and colleagues are focused on advancing mass spectrometry based technologies and using them to solve important real world applications.


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