Biochemistry and Molecular Biology
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Christopher Bowen receives 2018 Staff Excellence Award

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Christopher serves as a research technologist in the Szpara Lab.  Born and raised in Etters Pennsylvania, a suburb of Harrisburg, Bowen attended Penn State University from 2004 – 2008 where he earned his Bachelor of Science degree in Biology.  From there he traveled to the Steel City and to the University of Pittsburgh and earned his Master of Science degree in Infectious Disease and Microbiology.

After a few years working in industry, Bowen made the decision to return to the world of academia.  After interviewing with Dr. Moriah Szpara, he knew he had to work with her.  “She seemed energetic, enthusiastic and someone whom I thought would make a great mentor,” said Bowen.  In 2013 Bowen made the trip back to Penn State and began his work in the Szpara Lab.


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In his role in the Szpara Lab he takes care of the day-to-day operations.  This includes managing lab ordering and inventory, installation, maintenance and repair of any lab equipment and a number of other jobs necessary for the smooth operation of the lab. Bowen quickly trained on the use of shared resources such as our ultracentrifuges, autoclaves, and spectrophotometers and has become the point-person for training users from other labs in the MSC, a role that he continues to serve in to this day.

Dr. Moriah Szpara described Bowen as someone who frequently exceeds the expectations of a research technologist. “Because of his years of experience in my lab and in biopharmaceutical safety before that, Chris serves as a resource for queries about experimental procedures, safety guidelines, and laboratory administration – both for my lab and for many neighboring labs,” said Szpara.  She further commented on the role model he has become for best practices in equipment use and stewardship, as well as in the fair-use sharing and maintenance of shared scientific community resources.


Bowen also has a number of research projects he is working on. One looks at viral genetic determinants of disease in neonates with HSV infection. This project is in collaboration with researchers at University of Pennsylvania and the University of Alabama at Birmingham. Another project seeks to determine the amount of genetic diversity of globally circulating HSV strains by collecting clinical samples from Africa, Europe, and North America. This project is in collaboration with researchers at Penn State University, the University of Turku in Finland, and the University of Washington in Seattle.


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When asked what keeps him coming back to work every day his response was simple, “It’s the people that I work with.” “The members of the Szpara Lab are quite close and an amazing group of people to work with.  I am so happy to be able to help in the advancement of their projects and the advancement of the lab in general,” said Bowen.

Outside of the lab Bowen is an outdoorsman. Whether it be sports, such as football, baseball, golf or soccer, or things such as camping, fishing or hunting, Bowen just enjoys the chance to be outside.  He also loves spending time with friends and family.

On behalf of the BMB Community, congratulations Christopher for a much-deserved award! Your efforts and dedication to the department are not only noticed, but greatly appreciated!