Our Advanced Technologies Group is responsible for scouting emerging technology and new directions for future development at Luminex. That’s a big task, so we rely on team members like Johanna Takach, Scientist II, to provide valuable guidance for accomplishing it. She joined Luminex in 2015 after earning her bachelor’s degree in agricultural biotechnology from the University of Kentucky and her PhD in plant pathology from the University of Georgia.
Q: What are your responsibilities at Luminex?
A: I work in the Advanced Technologies Group and I’m a biologist jack-of-all-trades. I work on projects related to molecular biology and microbiology—detection of infectious disease agents, making amplification faster, better, smarter, cheaper—and emerging technologies associated with any of those things. I like it because I get to work with new and emerging concepts, and I get to ask questions and work towards figuring out which technologies should be included in our repertoire—or excluded from it—as Luminex evolves.
Q: How did you get interested in this career path?
A: I fell in love with genetics in high school. Genetics can tell us so much about who we are and what our health will look like. I thought about going into genetic counseling, but realized it didn’t really appeal to me. Eventually I decided to use biotechnology to answer questions about disease development and progression.
Q: What did you do before this job?
A: I was a research fellow at the Noble Research Institute in Oklahoma, where I learned to enjoy the south-Midwest culture. I was there for three years. After that, I took the chance to move to Austin and spent a year working for a startup in agriculture.
Q: What drew you to Luminex?
A: When I came out of academia, I found myself opening up to the idea of moving into the industry. Luminex was particularly interesting because of their technology-centered focus on disease detection and multi-analyte testing. We get to answer big questions and develop tools that let people ask even bigger questions.
Q: If you weren’t a scientist at Luminex, where would you be?
A: I would have loved to be a science librarian! I love research—digging into an interesting new topic that I don’t know anything about. Plus I love to read.
Q: If you could solve any clinical or genetic challenge, what would it be?
A: I would love to wave a wand and make lab-grown organs available for transplant patients! Currently there are over 100,000 people in the United States waiting for a life-saving donated organ. There are so many barriers to finding an appropriate donor—biological, economic, ethical, and legal—even with the current technologies available. This type of technology could improve the life of thousands of people per year.
Q: What is something about you that no one at Luminex knows?
A: My first name comes from the Bob Dylan song “Visions of Johanna,” from his Blonde on Blonde album. It’s pronounced Joanna, but I tell people it’s the Bob Dylan spelling.
Q: What is your favorite thing to do in Austin on the weekend?
A: My favorite thing is breakfast tacos. I sneak out and get them in the morning, share them with my partner, and then we take the dog out to one of the many hiking trails in the area. If you haven’t been to Austin, you’ve got to try the breakfast tacos. Right now, my favorite are black bean, cheese, and bacon. And of course, you’ve got to put a little salsa on there!