Jennifer Woodell-May received her PhD in Bioengineering from Clemson University in 2001, her MS in Bioengineering from Clemson in 1996, and a BS in Physics from Furman University in 1995. She is the Associate Director of Research in Biologics for Zimmer Biomet.
Where do you fit into your organization?
Since 2001, I have been in R&D in the Orthobiologics division for Biomet, Inc. and then exclusively for Biomet Biologics beginning in 2007 and then Biologics for Zimmer Biomet 2015.
Could you describe your main job responsibilities?
I manage research activities for currently marketed therapies as well as pre-clinical, clinical, development, marketing, and regulatory efforts for new technologies.
What do you like most about your current position?
I find it very exciting to get the opportunity to actually translate ideas from bench top to clinical trial in humans to commercial product. It is so rewarding to actually speak with patients that feel that your product has helped their quality of life.
Can you describe your career path?
I completed my Ph.D. in 2001 and then joined Biomet as a Project Manager. I have progressed through being a Principal Scientist and then Associate Director of Research.
Can you describe challenges/obstacles you faced in your career?
I know my challenges are shared by millions of women trying to earn respect and being considered equal to our male peers. I cheer my advocates and have become more confident to highlight dipartites when I can.
What are some ways in which mentoring (either as a mentee or mentor) has shaped your career in orthopedics?
I have grown from both my mentor and mentee relationships. I was originally hired by a female scientist. Her guidance both as a professional and as a scientist was invaluable to me. I have since had the honor of having young female scientists report to me and have learned just as much from them as I hope I have been able to guide them.
What is one piece of advice you can offer to people interested in pursuing orthopedic research in industry?
Find a company whose corporate culture best fits your own personality. You will have so much more job satisfaction in a place that matches you. It is OK to ask during an interview what the culture is like. Companies work hard on their culture and they should be able to describe it to you.
Is there any other information or comments you would like to offer?
We are always our worst critics. I personally battle with imposter syndrome throughout my entire career. Find allies that will give you the confidence you need to grow.