science in action presenters One of the fun aspects of Skyline College is that we are definitely a community and family oriented College. The last two Science in Action events featured speakers who also brought their family along with them.

Brandon Edgehill is finishing his Master’s in Physics at UC San Diego looking specifically at Plasma Mirrors. We learned that plasmas are the 4th state of matter after solid, liquid and gas. Brandon talked about his homeland of Tabogo and why he came to the United States, first braving the cold of Pennsylvania to earn his undergraduate degree. He then moved to UC San Diego, to pursue graduate education. In the world of high energy physics, there are only a few labs all around the world that can host his type of research. Also, he needs to set up his instrumentation so that he captures his data in very small fractions of a second. A few seconds collecting data, then a year’s worth of data analysis.

science in action presentersSo-Yan Leung bribed her daughters Hannah and Faye with snacks, (our students also thank her for the snacks) so they would come and hear her talk. So-Yan has a Degree in Chemical Engineering from UC Berkeley by way of City College. She has been working at Genentech for the last 20 years in validation. So-Yan has a very inspiring story and infectious excitement about her career and Quality. When So-Yan was at Berkeley she flunked Organic chemistry. She did not quit, she tried again after finding friends to take the class with and forming a study group. She then went on to pass Organic Chemistry, and earn her degree in Chemical Engineering. Her mantra throughout the talk was “keep an open mind”. After earning her degree at Berkeley she really thought she would be getting a job at a large petrochemical company like Chevron. She kept an open mind and worked at smaller startup companies until a part time position opened up at Genentech. At Genentech she worked hard as a temporary contractor and eventually became a full time employee of Genentech when a position that she did not think about open up.

So-Yan transitioned from chemical engineering to work in validation, the process of establishing documentary evidence demonstrating that a procedure, process, or activity carried out in testing and then production maintains the desired level of compliance at all stages. She noted that pharmaceutical companies must produce safe and effective products and in order to do that every portion of the company that touches their product must be verified that it is doing what it is supposed to. A piece of equipment that is used in manufacturing must be shown to work properly, the person who sets up the machine needs to be verified that they are trained and capable of setting up the machine. The data system must also be shown to work as expected. Overall everyone was amazed by the amount of work that goes into just setting up a pharmaceutical company production line before drugs are even made.

The Science in Action Seminar Series has been set for the rest of the semester. You can see the schedule at the website. We are currently looking for speakers for the spring semester. If you wish to recommend someone please contact Nick Kapp(

Article by Nick Kapp

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