Blaise is responsible for the upkeep and maintenance of the institute, including the laboratories, GMP manufacturing suite, and offices. Any given day can be different - from planning instrument onboarding, which requires coordination with the building engineers and management, to shipping AAHI products to our collaborators, ensuring permitting paperwork is complete. Blaise's top priority is AAHI employee safety - he ensures fume hoods and biosafety cabinets are working properly and he is ready and able to assist with anything that may come up at moments notice, such as laboratory refrigerator and/or freezer failure or accidental chemical spills. Driven by AAHI’s mission, Blaise serves a critical role at AAHI supporting the scientists and infrastructure of the organization, ensuring the innovation and development of vaccines is as seamless as possible.
What does a day at AAHI as an Associate Manager of facilities entail?
My name is Blaise Black and I am an Associate Manager of facilities at AAHI.
On a normal day, I’ll be in sometime in the morning, ideally before most of the science staff and I go through and I check the lab and make sure nothing is noticeably out of place or having issues. That includes checking cold storage units, liquid nitrogen freezers, the fridges and freezers, make sure they are all within temperature sense and then a quick visual inspection.
I then try to go through my daily or reoccurring weekly tasks are and if I catch up on all that then I try to figure out some longer term plans, a lot of it being word documentation of policy work, whether I’d be working with mainly IT or with whatever scientists need my help to push something forward.
Why did you pursue a career at AAHI?
I stuck around for two different things after school for so long and one is just the people. I really enjoy, as most internally are aware, just wandering around and getting to know the people and just generally socializing. There are a lot of really interesting and fun people around AAHI.
The other one is the mission. There are other areas that I could do facilities that are bigger, larger, that don’t quite have the same impact that our company can and will in the future. I like what I am doing to have a purpose.
"There are other areas that I could do facilities that are bigger, larger, that don't quite have the same impact the our company can and will in the future. I like what I am doing to have a purpose."
Why did you choose to work in facilities?
That’s a really fun story. It wasn't my intention out of school, and coming to IDRI back when I first graduated, the goal and my plan was to be temp worker, come in, learn a couple months of facilities so that I could help out and then they were going to move me into a research role.
In that time period, I spent a lot more time thinking about it and realized that because of the repetitive nature of especially synthetic chemistry, which is what I was doing at the time, I found it incredibly boring. Being able to assist the research from more of an operations role, fit a lot more with my personality and my work flow, along with making me still feel like that I am still contributing something that might affect change or have a big impact on things in the future.
What is it like working in Seattle?
Sometimes I do stare out the window and wish I was outside instead, but that’s besides the point.
I grew up and was born in the PNW, I love the green, I love the summers and the springs when everything is just beautiful, I love being right next to the water and having such a great view of South Lake Union. I just like the access to pretty much everything in Seattle.
What is your advice for people interested in facilities?
Having the background in a scientific discipline on top of having some of that technical expertise, is a rather rare combination. I have learned most of my technical expertise by being here having to learn it, but I had a lot of that lab knowledge background already and that was incredibly useful.
I think the best thing to do is to let your breadth of learning go so large, because there are just so many different things that I might have to know about and I have slowly had to learn and now I am finally rounding out all of that knowledge after multiple years trying to figure it all out.
A lot of it is just being open to learning from anyone and everyone because you never know what information someone might give you that you might find incredibly useful in a different context.
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More about the biotech research institute
We combine scientific innovation and pragmatic creativity to create real world solutions.
We collaborate with public-private partners to bring our products from bench to clinic to market.
We are dedicated to our mission and driven by a real sense of purpose and determination to make lasting change.