Coffee With Cool Women features genome analyst Elise Waldman

Elise Waldman speaks with undergraduates at Coffee With Cool Women

SIUE’s Women’s Studies program, directed by Dr. Catherine Seltzer, kicked off its first in a series of “flash mentoring events” called Coffee With Cool Women on Thursday, September 27th, 2012. The Coffee With Cool Women series, organized and conducted by Seltzer, invites successful women to share their stories and experiences to inform and inspire other women through informal and open discussion.

Thursday’s Coffee With Cool Women, held in SIUE’s Women’s Studies Office, featured insight from Elise Waldman, a 2008 SIUE graduate and Genome Analyst at Monsanto. She is currently the Coordinator of the Illumina Sequencing Platform and oversees the sequencing of all the production-pipeline DNA and RNA at the company’s Chesterfield location.

Waldman shared insight about her career and her journey from student to employee. The undergraduate and graduate students in attendance, all women, were eager to listen to her experiences and to learn tips on how to find success both in school and in the workplace.

As an undergraduate, Waldman had always contemplated becoming a doctor but learned that her passion was in genetics and lab work. She told the group that Dr. Luci Kohn had been her mentor and got her involved in the Undergraduate Research Academy.

“It was a great opportunity,” Waldman said. “It gave me a taste of the research on both the lab side and the project management side.”

Elise Waldman speaking to students

Getting experience in the “project management side” prepared her to enter industry. Being involved in extracurricular activities and clubs on campus also helped her to prepare for the daunting task of finding a job after graduation.

During the session, she advised students to network, to not be afraid of approaching professors about opportunities, and to be sure that their resumes will stand out. She told them that having experience and connections is what helps institutions notice resumes.

“They’re looking for people who stand out from the crowd,” Waldman said to the group.

In addition to sharing her undergraduate experiences and offering interviewing tips to the students, Waldman also addressed the stereotype of women not being as adept in the sciences as men.

“I find it interesting because I work with a ton of women in science, and they’re all brilliant,” Waldman shared with the group. “There are a lot of men, but I would say that I’ve never gotten the feeling that women are looked down upon in science. I would say that they’re very revered.”

The students who had the opportunity to listen to Waldman left the session feeling informed and hopeful about their futures, whether they were science majors or otherwise.

The next Coffee With Cool Women will be held on Wednesday, November 7, 2012, at 1:30 p.m. at the 222 Artisan Bakery in Edwardsville. The featured Cool Woman will be entrepreneur and 222 Artisan Bakery owner Caroline Pender.

Women may also mark their calendars for December’s Coffee With Cool Women, which will be held on Thursday, December 6 at 12:30 p.m. Dr. Elizabeth Ferris-Row, Assistant Professor of Clinical Obstetrics and Gynecology at Indiana University and Chief of OB Services at Wishard Hospital, will be the featured woman.

Due to limited space, anyone wishing to attend either session should contact Dr. Catherine Seltzer at or call the Women’s Studies Office at (618)650-5060 to reserve a seat.

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