Our Employee Spotlight series highlights a different team member each month, offering a behind-the-scenes look into the people who are an integral part of our success. This month we are talking to one of our newest employees Clinical Scientist, Jen Blankenship, PhD.
Jen is a clinical and translational scientist with a deep interest in wearable technology (e.g., continuous glucose monitors and accelerometers) led her to us. The main focus of Jen’s studies is the interaction between physical activity and eating patterns, sleep, and metabolism in the real-world environment. Her ultimate goals are centered around improving health and preventing disease using ecologically relevant study designs.
How did you decide on your field of study in college?
I was a rower in college, and one of my teammates was doing an undergraduate research project on flexibility and rowing performance. As a participant in her study, I learned that there was an entire field of study that combined my two passions: science and exercise. That semester, I enrolled in an introductory Kinesiology course, changed my major by the end of that year, and haven’t looked back since.
Who inspired you to pursue the career you have today?
I’m fortunate to have had excellent mentors throughout my training. Dr. Priscilla Clarkson gave me my first job as a research assistant in college and inspired me to pursue graduate school and a career in research. Her work ethic was unparalleled, and despite a full schedule as a tenured professor and a dean, she still made time for weekly lab meetings and monthly individual advisory meetings with me as an undergraduate. To me, she was the model of professionalism, and I have carried her lessons through with me today.
What does your job entail?
I am a clinical scientist at VivoSense and work to advance the objectives of the science team. Part of my responsibilities includes writing innovative grant proposals to further the R&D efforts at VivoSense, analyze and interpret data, and assist Sponsors in the selection and implementation of digital sensors and connected technologies in decentralized clinical trials.
How can your academic experience be applied in pharma?
As an academic, I implemented wearable sensors to measure behavior and physiological outcomes to ultimately understand how physical activity can be optimized to prevent chronic disease. In pharma, the use of wearable sensors and connected technologies is still in its infancy. The training I received as an academic has provided me with the knowledge and expertise of how to deploy wearable devices that are fit for purpose in decentralized clinical trials.
Where do you see yourself in 5 years?
I see myself continuing to work in the field of wearable sensors and developing creative solutions to assess physical behaviors and sleep in clinical populations.
What’s the best advice you can give to someone who just started their career?
Talk to anyone that you can and embrace opportunities that come your way (especially if they make you feel a little uncomfortable). These are cliche things to say, but they are words that I live by.
What motivates you?
Do you have a superpower?
What was your first job?
This is my first job! Before VivoSense, I did two postdoctoral fellowships (in Australia and Colorado), which I still consider part of my academic training.
What’s your secret talent no one knows about?
I can make the best English Muffins from scratch.
What is your favorite Netflix/Hulu binge-watching show?
For a long time, it was The Office, but since it has left Netflix, my current favorite is Gilmore Girls.
Recommend a book you’ve recently read.
The Brief and Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao (by Junot Diaz). Phenomenal writing and storytelling. I love any book that is told from multiple points of view.