Applied Biosciences Alumni Profile

Rochelle Burke

Senior Scientist and Principal Investigator in the Pharma Discovery group
KCAS Bioanalytical and Biomarker Services

Rochelle Burke



What was your undergraduate degree in?

I received a B.G.S. (Bachelors of General Studies) in Human Biology from the University of Kansas in 2003.


Why did you decide to pursue an applied biosciences master's degree?

I always wished I had pursued a master's degree, and up until 2018 I felt it was not possible since I was already immersed in my career and a single mom to two kids. After receiving guidance from a mentor who encouraged me to pursue a graduate degree, I started researching programs available in the sciences. When I started my search, I was not aware of a master's program that would teach me STEM knowledge, professional skills and work with my existing life circumstances. I found the applied biosciences master's program at K-State and learned I could take majority of my classes late in the afternoon or evening at the K-State Olathe campus or online. I was surprised to learn this would fit into my schedule as a full-time working adult and mom.

What convinced me to apply to the program was talking with current students who described a program with excellent professors who cared about students' success in the program, and a program curriculum that included science knowledge along with invaluable professional skills. I knew I could benefit from expanding my knowledge in the sciences, but I also knew as a manager and principal investigator, I could benefit from learning professional skills to increase my value in my career. Many science-based masters programs do not have the added benefit of including much needed professional skills in the curriculum. In this way, the program stood out above the rest.


How has the degree contributed to your career?

Just prior to joining the program, I was promoted to a manager in my department. At the time, I lacked the skills to successfully manage people of all types of personalities and backgrounds, and how to handle crucial conversations. The program taught me how to be a more effective manager in these areas. Additionally, my writing skills, presentations skills, and communication skills have vastly improved since completing the degree. As a manager and principal investigator I am often interacting with clients, employees, and have undertaken writing a couple blogs for my company website. Prior to the program, I was not comfortable with these tasks. My confidence in writing, communicating, and speaking in front of others has increased significantly.

One of the main goals of this program is to immerse students in an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving. I have worked in my field for over 13 years and would call myself an expert in the bioanalytical testing involved in the approval process of pharmaceutical drugs and treatments. However, I was not an expert or knowledgeable about disease and disease transmission prior to completing the program. Now I have a greater understanding about the diseases we are trying to treat and the people who are in need of these treatments. This has given me greater passion towards my career and has helped me understand more of the sponsors' needs during research studies. I am grateful to have earned my degree and I believe I have exited the program a much stronger professional and scientist than I was prior.


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