Physicist Discovers Her Passion for Biotechnology


- Judith Bastiaanssen

Term : January, 2014
Department : Biosciences
Program : Biotechnology

Judith Bastiaanssen is a woman of many talents. Originally from the Netherlands, she studied physics and worked in research and development for a large electronics company just as the medical device market was taking off in Europe. While her technical skills and experience made her stand out in her field, she wanted to gain a better understanding of the science behind it all. When the opportunity arose for her to relocate to California, she enrolled in UCSC Extension’s Biotechnology program.

Though her scientific studies had often overlapped with biology, Bastiaanssen was surprised at how precise biomedical technology had become, and soon became hungry to learn more. She was especially impressed by the fundamentals covered in “Introduction to Molecular Biology" and "Drug Development.”

“I see such a future in it,” she says. “I’m amazed at how the genomic revolution has changed so much. I had no idea how drugs are developed, and the courses really opened my mind. I learned so much about how drugs work. I didn’t think I’d be interested in drug development, but it was totally fascinating.”

She also enjoyed meeting and working with her classmates, many of whom are established professionals in a variety of fields. In her “Medical Device Design and Development” course, she was paired with a finance expert and a fellow scientist to design a new medical device. The exercise proved useful in applying new skills and understanding the way devices come to market.

“We had to pretend to be a start-up company for a medical device and do several presentations for the other students,” she says. “Thinking about a start-up was something I would have never normally done, and it ended up being a lot of fun.”

Bastiaanssen completed the Biotechnology certificate in summer 2013 and hopes to take a few more courses before returning to Europe.

 “I like to learn, and there’s no better feeling in the world than understanding a new concept,” she says. “The courses were absolutely fantastic.”

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