2010 Biological Sciences Alumni Leader’s Award Recipient: Karen Zmuda
Ms. Karen Zmuda –Medical Technologist,
Supervisor of Chemistry and Hemostasis Laboratories,
Northwestern Memorial Hospital, 251 East Huron Street, Chicago, IL 60611
Ms. Karen Zmuda received her Bachelor of Sciences (B.S.) degree in Biology in 1980 from Purdue University Calumet. The next year, she received the B.S. in Medical Technology from the School of Medicine at Northwestern University, as well as her Medical Technology certification from the American Society for Clinical Pathology. While working as a medical technologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital, she returned for graduate work at Purdue Calumet, where she obtained her Master of Science (M.S.) degree in Biology in 1987.
Since 1981, she has been a medical technologist at Northwestern Memorial Hospital. She started in the Hematology lab before moving to the newly created Immediate Response Laboratory, which then became the Core Laboratory with a concentration in Chemistry and Hemostasis. During this period, she progressed from bench technologist to senior tech and supervisor. Her duties as a bench tech included performing the clinical analysis of patient samples and the daily operations of the instrumentation. As senior tech, she assumed lead responsibilities in the lab and was promoted to supervisor for the staff of 15. Her duties include supervision of day-to-day operations, personnel management, overseeing regulatory compliance, and evaluating and updating the newest technologies for the lab. She also rendered professional services for the inspection of laboratories for the College of American Pathologists. A major accomplishment involved being part of the original liver transplant team at Northwestern Memorial, responsible for monitoring the coagulation of patients undergoing liver transplants by performing thromboelastograph testing intraoperatively. She reports that her Medical Technology career has been very rewarding, never routine; presenting new challenges every day. It’s a ‘behind the scenes’ profession that is very important in the overall treatment and care of patients in the clinical setting.
Karen has long served as a Limited Term Lecturer at Purdue Calumet, teaching several lab courses (Anatomy and Physiology, Microbiology, Cell Biology, Advanced Microbiology, Genetics, and Recombinant DNA Techniques) since receiving her M.S. in 1987. One of her most rewarding experiences at was being cofounder of the Recombinant DNA Techniques Lab with Dr. Charles Tseng and assisting with the lab since the creation of the course. She remember in the early years of the course spending long hours in the lab with the students doing everything manually, due to the early technology, and going home in the early morning hours when the birds were chirping. Since then, the course has evolved into a highly technical course. Over the past years she reports crossing paths with over 1200 Purdue Calumet Biology students, many working in research and clinical labs across the Midwest.
Ms. Zmuda says, “What my Purdue Calumet experience means to me.”
“My time spent at Purdue Calumet for both my Bachelor’s and Master’s degrees was rewarding and stimulating. Purdue Calumet provided me with the building blocks on which I have built my clinical career. One of the unique qualities of the Biology department is the life experiences that the professors bring into the classroom and laboratory. I was fortunate to have such a group of great scientists and educators as my mentors. The professors treat students as ‘individuals’ and are willing to spend a great deal of time helping students outside the classroom.
My advice to students is to follow your dreams and pursue your passions. There are always resources out there to help you obtain your goals. It is a matter of being persistent in finding them. Do something that you enjoy and believe in yourself, and all will fall into place.”