The Bead Master
Q: What do you do at Luminex?
I’m a Technical Applications Specialist providing customers with troubleshooting support. I’m the protein specialist in our group, so I use this expertise to work on internal development projects as well as provide solutions to researchers’ queries. I generally receive four significant cases per day plus a couple of straightforward queries. The longest call I’ve ever had was a little over two hours, and the customer was great – she was willing to try everything I suggested to resolve her issue.
When I started at Luminex two years ago, this was the first customer facing role I’ve had. I began by answering emails and submissions from the web form, which we respond to in less than an hour, but now I am fully confident when fielding complex customer calls in real time. When talking with customers, I generally stand in front of the instrument, as this helps to bring all my knowledge front-of-mind.
I feel that I found my niche with this position, as I’m able to combine my research immunoassay development expertise with my experience from using these instruments for many years – both of which are needed to support the resolution of customer cases. My favorite calls are from customers who are developing novel research assays or pushing their instrument to/beyond its capability. The most diverse calls definitely come from MAGPIX® users because the instrument is so versatile in research applications, which is reflected in the customer base and their applications.
Q: Tell us a recent project that you’re especially proud of.
I recently created four error code and solutions internal help documents that are used by my colleagues to resolve customers’ instrumentation issues. These documents save my colleagues and our customers’ time when troubleshooting, as we can now provide on-point solutions when provided error codes from the Luminex® 200™ and MAGPIX RUO instruments. To develop these documents, I started keeping a listing of error codes and then checked them against closed cases to determine how the issue was resolved.
Customers might not know that the MAGPIX RUO has three types of error codes: sample delivery, optics module, and calibration and verification, which they can tell apart by the four digit code inside of the bracket following the hardware code 2091 (e.g., 2091 where 4113 pertains to the filter wheel of the optics module).
Luminex 200 and FLEXMAP 3D® provide software warning and error codes. There are four log types that show the category of the error: batch, maintenance, security, and system.
Q: How can customers speed up the trouble shooting process?
When contacting Tech Support, it’s helpful if the customer provides the instrument serial number, has generated the Calibration and Verification report (or Performance Verification report), and is near the instrument for troubleshooting. Additionally, we get the best issue resolution results when the lab technician who is experiencing the problem contacts us directly.
Q: Where were you before Luminex?
I spent the previous eight years at EMD Millipore (now a part of Millipore Sigma) doing mostly antibody and immunoassay development. In my first role, I manufactured subsequent lots of beads and detection antibody cocktails for Luminex-based multiplex kits. When I was promoted to R&D, my main responsibility was making the first lots of beads for all novel multiplex research immunoassays. I had gained so much bead coupling experience that my colleagues starting calling me “The Bead Master.”
Later, I moved on to antibody purifications for subsequent lots of kits and developed new antibody pairs for novel multiplex immunoassays. I performed all of my antibody pair screening assays on the MAGPIX and validated them using the Luminex 200. This is how I became quite familiar with Luminex-based assays and instruments before formally joining the Luminex family.
Q: What science are you currently interested in?
I’m intrigued by all things GE/GMO. I’ve recently read about research that would allow us to be vaccinated while eating our vegetables, on the development of artificial wombs, and generating spider silk through goats’ milk that is used for the manufacture of bulletproof vests.
Q: Outside of work, how do you spend your time?
I’m pursuing a Master’s in Biotechnology Management from the University of Maryland University College, so I’m currently taking one course at a time for that and expect to finish the program in 2018.
For fun, I do course exercises on Codecademy to learn programming languages such as Python and Java. I’m also learning more about SQL. I’m learning to speak Spanish with the Duolingo app and love playing Mortal Kombat via PS3, PS4, and Wii.