Michael Hiatt - Scientist, STEMCELL Technologies

Michael Hiatt

Scientist, STEMCELL Technologies

I was born/grew up in: Vancouver, BC

I now live in: Vancouver, BC

I completed my training/education at: I received a BSc in Cellular and Molecular Biology from Simon Fraser University and a PhD from the Experimental Medicine Department at the University of British Columbia. Before joining STEMCELL, I travelled to Los Angeles for a Postdoctoral Fellowship with Children’s Hospital of Los Angeles and the University of Southern California.

Describe what you do at work.

During the day, my activities range from being hands on in the lab to working with team members from other teams or departments. I am responsible not only for the scientific work that we do, but also for moving potential products through the commercialization process. This can include identifying if and how a product can be manufactured.

I enjoy the challenge of solving problems. They may be challenges faced by our customers or by other team members within the company. This activity requires all of the creativity, technical skills and expertise that I have developed over my academic career. In particular, we follow the same scientific process to design and execute research experiments, troubleshoot problems, and reach conclusions as university scientists. This process is central to successful problem solving.

One of my favorite aspects of my job involves projects that make use of microscopes. While other types of data are very important for answering the key questions surrounding our products, there is something deeply satisfying about “seeing” the things we work with in a way we can’t with the naked eye.

When I was a student I enjoyed:

How does your job affect people’s lives?

It is rewarding to launch new products that help researchers in academia, biotech and pharma to make new discoveries and enhance human health.

What motivates you in your career?

As I have stated above, I enjoy the problem solving aspect. The process of identifying a problem, testing possible solutions, and improving something so it works for a customer is a very rewarding experience. It helps to be surrounded by lots of other smart people with their own great ideas to really push you to develop the best possible answer.

I have always enjoyed the feeling of genuine discovery, even when it is something small that may result from a seemingly simple experiment. One of the great things about my current role is that these discoveries are not abstract, but instead get turned into real world products. This provides the opportunity to build “things” as well as develop knowledge.

When I was a student, I would have described myself as someone who:

Describe your career path to this career.

I got to my current position by following what interested me. I was not sure at times where this would take me, but it has succeeded in leading me to a career that I enjoy. I owe a lot of this success to the Cooperative Education Department at Simon Fraser University. Through the Co-op program I learned what it was in science I enjoyed, and just as importantly, what types of science jobs I disliked. This is incredibly useful data to have when planning one’s future career.

What activities do you like to do outside of work?

I enjoy hiking through the spectacular scenery of British Columbia, playing golf, and spending time with my family.

What advice or encouragement would you give others seeking a similar career?

Science can be a tough career. By its very nature, it is difficult and many of the things you try will fail. It is important that you love what you are studying or researching to help get through the tough times and enjoy the experience in discovering something new.

CurioCity Careers

We hope you enjoyed learning about this great STEM career! The information in this career profile was provided by this individual especially for CurioCity. We hope it helped give you a sense of what this type of job is really like.

Let’s Talk Science is pleased to provide you with this information as you explore future career options. Many careers require a background in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). Even jobs that don’t use specific STEM concepts on a day-to-day basis benefit from the skills gained through a study of STEM. People with a STEM background are very much in demand by employers across all career sectors. If you would like to learn about more careers that have a STEM connection, visit http://www.explorecuriocity.org/careers.

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