At Beckman Coulter, we firmly believe diversity is vital to innovation.
In celebration of Women’s History Month, we’re proud to honor the women at Beckman Coulter who have dedicated their careers to science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and bring new ways of thinking with them to work every day.
One such women is Dr. Jean Patel. After 17 years at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Dr. Patel joined Beckman Coulter in Principal Scientific Affairs, Microbiology.
“Women bring a unique perspective to STEM fields and pave the way for the next generation. Every discipline benefits from diversity of thought,” said Dr. Patel. “Although no two women think alike, our life experiences are different than men. We want STEM solutions that address the challenges that we see and experience in the world.”
Dr. Patel has always had a clear idea of the career she wanted. “By the time I was a junior in high school I knew that I wanted to be a medical technologist, specialize in microbiology and work at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. By my early 30s, I had checked all of these boxes.”
Having had several milestones throughout her career, Dr. Patel notably was named the chair of the Clinical and Laboratory Standards Institute (CLSI) Subcommittee for antimicrobial susceptibility testing (AST). Through this, she learned how to lead a room of 150 experts in antimicrobial susceptibility testing through a consensus decision-making process—a “good skill to have in your back pocket.”
Another milestone for Dr. Patel is working in microbiology at Beckman Coulter. She notes, “At CDC I was one of a few experts in antimicrobial susceptibility testing. At Beckman Coulter, I joined a crowd of experts. Coming home to the ‘mother ship,’ so to speak, sums up the reason and excitement for joining Beckman Coulter.”
The role of mentors
Many times, great leaders amass their skills from the traits of their predecessors; Dr. Patel is a testament to this.
“I’ve learned three imperative skills from three important mentors. Technical expertise, clear communication and strong leadership are skills I learned from Jana Swenson from the CDC, Janet Hindler from UCLA and the late Dr. Mary Jane Ferraro from Massachusetts General Hospital—the first woman to chair the CSLI AST Subcommittee. These three wonderful women created opportunities for me that I would not have gotten otherwise.”
The wealth of knowledge Dr. Patel has on antimicrobial resistance has continually accumulated throughout her career.
“Antimicrobial resistance is a public health threat,” said Dr. Patel. “It requires knowledge of microbiology, epidemiology, and the prescribing decisions of an infectious disease doctor. As a microbiologist, I am very grateful to the epidemiologists and infectious disease specialists who have shared their knowledge with me over the years, as well as for my career experiences which have sharpened my knowledge on this subject.”
Dr. Patel put pen to paper and recently published an antimicrobial resistance article on Medical Laboratory Observer.