‘NDSU experiences were key to becoming a scientist’

At NDSU, an internship can lead to opportunities to learn, grow and make a global impact.

Monica Lewison, a 2020 biochemistry and molecular biology graduate, is an associate process validation scientist at Aldevron in Fargo. The company – a biological sciences development and manufacturing lab that advances groundbreaking science and breakthrough discoveries – has helped produce mass amounts of critical genetic materials to help Moderna generate millions of COVID-19 vaccinations.

Lewison shadowed some of Aldevron’s scientists throughout the process to learn about different aspects of the manufacturing process. She watched her co-workers grow the important bacterial cells that contained the DNA used as the template for the Moderna vaccine.

“It is surreal and humbling to shadow the manufacturing process then hear the worldwide impacts of the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine on the radio as I drive home from work,” said Lewison, who is from Dickinson, North Dakota.

Lewison started at Aldevron with a job shadowing opportunity provided by the NDSU Career Center. She later became a validations intern, despite not knowing exactly what the job was. Now she’s a full-time employee at a fast-growing company that has helped positively affect people’s lives with research and development during a global pandemic.

“I learned about manufacturing and gained technical writing skills,” she said. “Working in validation has taught me how to think like an engineer while working as a scientist.”

Lewison said she chose NDSU because of the welcoming campus and renowned faculty. She worked on undergraduate research projects and had many hands-on learning experiences that helped her to a successful career.

“Lecture courses gave me the tools to become a scientist, but experiential learning in lab courses and though research projects taught me how to use those tools,” she said. “The lab experiences I gained at NDSU were the key to me becoming a scientist at Aldevron.”