Spotlight on Natural Sciences Alumni: Charu DeWitt

Name: Charu (Agarwal) DeWitt
Age: 32
Occupation: Scientist
Education (UR and additional): B.A. in Biology, University of Rochester, 2001; M.S. in Bioengineering, University of Pittsburgh, 2004.
Current city/state of residence: Ann Arbor, MI
Family: Aaron DeWitt, husband
Community activities: Secretary of neighborhood association, local book club member

What activities were you involved in as a student and what did you gain from them?

I was a member of Alpha Phi sorority and ADITI.  Also, I worked part-time as a lab assistant at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  Being a part of a variety of organizations allowed me to meet and become friends with a diverse group of people, many of whom I am still in touch with today.  It also helped me learn time management, which is such an important skill for the “real world,” and leadership skills.

What did you do immediately after graduation? How did you decide to take that path?

After graduation, I worked for a year as a lab technician at the University of Rochester Medical Center.  Honestly, I wasn’t sure what path I wanted to take with my biology degree—I just knew it wasn’t the medical school route!  I liked working in a lab part-time during college, so I decided to apply to full-time lab jobs and ended up really enjoying doing bench work.

What do you do now, and why did you choose this career?

I am currently working at a small biotech company as a research associate.  I work in a lab doing cell culture, developing assays, and validating the company’s potential products.  Through the classes that I took and the jobs that I have held, I found that I like doing research and working in a lab, so I stuck with this career path!

How do you balance your work and personal life?

It’s not always easy, but if you don’t find a way to do it, you’ll go crazy!  I make time to take vacations, hang out with friends, and organize outings with my co-workers.

How are you still connected with the University?

I have done alumni interviews for prospective students.  Also, I keep up with the Alpha Phi chapter at the UofR through their newsletters.  I also try to give back annually through alumni donations.

What advice do you have for current students?

Take a variety of classes outside of your major—this is your chance to experience things you might not get a chance to in the future.  Get involved in academic extracurricular activities, as well as social activities—make connections with older students and professors in your future career field.