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Dr. Susan Knox '12, Research Scientist at Spark Therapeutics in Philadelphia, PA

Dr. Susan Knox graduated from Stuart in 2012 and went on to obtain her B.S. in chemistry from The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). While at TCNJ, she also completed a minor in biology and was selected to be one of the New Jersey Governor’s STEM Scholars. Knox continued her studies at Yale University as a National Science Foundation Graduate Research Fellow, working to deliver therapeutically relevant proteins to cells using small protein tags. She received her M.S. in chemical biology from Yale and later moved to The University of California, Berkeley with her graduate advisor. At UC Berkeley, Knox continued her exploration of protein delivery and graduated with a Ph.D. in chemistry. Currently, Knox is a research scientist at Spark Therapeutics in Philadelphia, PA where she contributes to gene therapy development. Outside of her time at Spark, Susan is the CEO of Your Edvantage (www.YourEdvantage.com, @Your_Edvantage), an academic and career consulting company that works with students and professionals on resumes, applications, and interview strategies. She has been working with individuals for over eight years, providing feedback on resume structure and content, guidance through college applications, strategies for interviews and public speaking engagements, and a myriad of other services. 

How did being at Stuart help prepare and guide you for the path you chose after graduating?

Stuart provided the foundation Susan stepped from to become the accomplished woman she is now. Susan explained how Stuart “fostered her drive for science” and “prepared [her] for college and beyond.” The honors and AP biology and chemistry classes were what put her interest for science in motion, and allowed her to further her curiosities. Susan also acknowledges debates, presentations, and public speaking projects as part of the overall preparation Stuart provided for her current abilities in all these fields. She explained how noticeable it was in college that her classmates had not been given the same opportunities for learning how to speak in front of an audience.  

Do you see an impact on your career, day to day life, or your current self having gone to an all girls school?

“Stuart fostered my confidence in the classroom and beyond by supporting an environment that allowed and inspired me to ask questions and speak up in class.” One of the main impacts Stuart left on Susan was Goal Three, a social awareness that impels to action. Susan talked about how Stuart instilled this value in her, and how “directly making a difference in the community” stuck with her. She also shared that part of what drew her to Spark Therapeutics was their outreach work. She wanted to work somewhere that valued giving back just as much as she does.

What is your favorite Stuart memory?

“Green and White Day in 2011! Our entire senior class ran onto the field and spectators, from lower school students to staff, were cheering and getting us excited for the school year ahead. The Green and White rivalry was forgotten for a moment as we celebrated our camaraderie and impending graduation. Another great memory was the huge pillow fort we made as juniors in the USRC! It was really a time to come together as a class and get to know each of our peers.”

How do you see Stuart having shaped your leadership skills?

“Stuart provided me with leadership opportunities that prepared me for future endeavors and positions. I gained the confidence to speak up and voice my opinions through my experiences in leadership roles, public speaking opportunities, and collaborative efforts. We were encouraged to help others and be a leader within a group. Through my education at Stuart, I learned how to tailor my skills to understand the needs of others and best support my team.” 

What were your favorite classes offered at Stuart?

“Honors Chemistry and AP Chemistry inspired me to become a chemist. I was able to take away real-world relevance from the hands-on labs and demonstrations. I also thoroughly enjoyed photography classes. I think that I was one of the last students who learned how to develop film in the darkroom. Mixing chemicals under red light to generate the perfect photo further solidified my interest in understanding how molecules interact. Stuart’s well-rounded education ensured that I was not only exposed to a wide variety of topics, but that I was able to connect experiences and learnings between classes.”

What advice might you give to current students?

“Take advantage of every opportunity and get involved with the school and student groups. I played field hockey while at Stuart, and through the sport I met new people and immersed myself in the community. The experiences you have during your time at Stuart will provide continued learning and guide you towards your future goals.”

This year’s slogan is “Stuart girls are unstoppable.” Stuart girls and women are unstoppable in pursuing their goals. How has your time at Stuart made you unstoppable?

“While at Stuart, I worked hard as a student, musician, athlete, and friend. I learned to balance my academics, personal life, outside activities, and everything else that life throws at you. I was able to become a well-rounded person. Stuart fosters an environment where students are taught to follow their passions and push through obstacles when reaching for their goals. 10 years and three degrees later, I continue to strive towards my goal to create an impact in my community as I develop gene therapies at Spark and prepare individuals for success in their own careers with Your Edvantage.”