Erin Nyren is a scientist, business owner, lifelong-learning enthusiast, teacher and writer.
She traveled a diverse career path before learning that her true passion was teaching kids about science and writing. But the lessons she learned as an undergraduate and graduate student at North Dakota State University helped her achieve success.
“I was very fortunate that so many of my professors at NDSU had a passion for teaching. Their greatest concern was that their students learned, and that they understood the material. They gave very generously of their time and energy,” says Nyren.
Nyren discovered her love for teaching during her time at NDSU. She was asked a few times as a student to do demonstrations and experiments, and talk with girls about becoming scientists. She also mentored other undergraduates and pharmacy students while completing her doctoral degree.
“The most rewarding experience of my career thus far was hearing the stories parents told me about how excited their children were about science, especially when parents of preschoolers would tell me their kids taught them something new,” Nyren said.
Nyren said one of the most difficult decisions was making the choice to pursue a career outside the laboratory. Much of her education and early career was aimed at entering a research setting. Individuals with similar educational backgrounds often begin a post-doctoral fellowship after their doctorate, or they pursued another research-related career.
“Ultimately, I felt that I’d have a more fulfilling career making use of my writing and teaching skills,” said Nyren, who is a technical writer for Aldevron, a biotech company which manufacturers custom plasmids, RNA and gene editing enzymes at its headquarters in Fargo, N.D., and additional facilities in Madison, Wisc., and Freiburg, Germany.
At Aldevron, Nyren edits and helps manage the company’s procedural and manufacturing documents. The knowledge she learned through her time at NDSU made the subjects she reads and reviews every day more familiar and the work experience much smoother.
“I built my skill as a writer and editor throughout my education. I wrote several publications while earning my doctorate,” she said. “I wrote and edited lessons and other teaching materials, and did freelance editing for other members of the scientific community. These set up a strong foundation for the writing and editing I do now at Aldevron.”
Nyren said technical writing and editing can offer a wealth of opportunity. There is currently a great need for writers in the fields of pharmaceuticals, biomedical manufacturing and engineering. Several companies that could use technical writers are headquartered in the Fargo area. Many, including Aldevron, have close ties to NDSU and can offer opportunities that may not be seen elsewhere.
Nyren started a business called Discovery Express in 2003. In the beginning, she taught after-school science programs at local preschools and elementary schools. Programs covered as many of the sciences as possible. There were two constants to every lesson – they needed to be hands-on and they needed to be fun and relaxed.
“We always aimed to give the kids something they could remember,” Nyren said. “Not necessarily because they had to memorize anything or study for it, but because they remembered the experience, making it easier to learn the science behind the activity.”
Today, Discovery Express remains a company focused on getting kids interested in science through books, lessons, kits and games.
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