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My Life in Research

I started my professional life in the technical field. After receiving a PhD in Physics from the University of Illinois at Chicago, I worked in research. My first job was at Nioptics, a 20-people startup involved in backlighting systems for LCD displays. After only 3 months, the VCs shut us down and sold the IP. That actually cleared the way for me to move to Colorado for a romantic relationship, where I worked as a post-doctoral fellow for the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST). My work involved developing fiber-optics-based single-wavelength solid state laser systems. After the fellowship ended, I took a job with Datex-Ohmeda, a Finnish medical device company involved in anesthesia and patient  monitoring apparatus. My research was in pulse oximetry. The company traced its roots through various mergers and aquistions to Biox, the startup that had brought pulse oximetry to market about 15 years before. One of my colleague had been employee #3 at Biox.  For sure you are familiar with the pulse oximeter - it is the little clip that the nurse puts on your finger when you go for an office visit. It gives a measure of how well your respiratory system works, and unfortunately, a lot more people learned about its importance because of Covid. At that time, it was only used by anesthesiologists. Now it is standard of care, considered the 5th vital sign.  I loved that job - the result of my work had a bigger purpose, improving healthcare. I had the opportunity to be involved in many aspects of new medical product development, including hard-core optical research in the lab, protocol development for human subjects testing, a collaboration with the Army Research Labs, software/hardware integration, and even solving yield issues on the manufacturing floor.  One of the unique opportunities I had was to spend time in different units of the hospital to observe how doctors and nurses use pulse oximetry and bring that knowledge back to the R&D team. Most exciting of all was being in the Operating Room and witnessing a triple bypass surgery. Equally memorable was spending a couple of Saturday nights riding on an ambulance in Denver, and being privy to taking with people with gunshot wounds to the area's only Level 1 trauma center. After a few years in the job, I became interested in the business aspects of high tech. The company paid for me to go back to school to get my MBA at night. It took me 3 years to finish it. Just around that time, Datex Ohmeda was aquired by GE Healthcare, as a foothold in the Anesthesia market to complement their presence in the Intensive Care market. A couple of years later, our lease was up and GE decided to close down the Colorado facility. I spent the last year of my work there ensuring that my job was successfully transferred between R&D in Helsinki and manufacturing in Juarez, Mexico. That in itself was an interesting process.

Laser Research

Laser Research

National Institute of Standards and Technology

Pulse Research

Pulse Oximetry Research

Datex-Ohmeda/GE Healthcare

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