Get to Know Yolanda Peris-Taverner

Scientist II

Ever since I was a child, I’ve been a curious person. I like observing my surroundings and asking why things happen, which eventually led me to become a scientist. At Upkara, I get to spend time doing work I love every day and growing my skillset in the lab alongside colleagues who are just as passionate as I am. Together, we’re building technology that will revolutionize how science is done and how health products are delivered around the world.

Finding My Identity

I first started pursuing my love of science by studying biology in my home country of Spain. From there, I went on to get my master’s degree in food  science. But I didn’t actually get to apply my degrees for over a decade. Instead, I worked in a family restaurant in Spain. I learned a lot during that time. I was quite shy back then and working in the hospitality industry helped me come out of my shell and build connections with new people.

It wasn’t until I came to the United States with my family about five years ago that I started looking for a job where I could use my science background. Upkara gave me an opportunity and the rest is history. I came here with a passion for science and the work being done, but spending time in the lab has made me even more passionate.

My job has helped me grow as a person on many levels—from acquiring new knowledge and improving my skills to having a better understanding of science and technology. I believe you should always be doing something you love, because if you are, you’ll be happy and successful, and I love the challenge of working here. You need a lot of persistence to work in the lab every day searching for breakthroughs and that keeps me excited.

Improving Critical Thinking

On top of growing as a person, Upkara has been a big influence on my career as a scientist as I’ve worked my way up the ladder since starting as a technician. A big part of this growth comes from the more open-minded approach to critical thinking our team utilizes. This is essential when you’re trying to solve problems on such a large scale as we are here. I also cherish the cooperation and collaboration among our team as we work together to reach our goals. We all need to be on the same page, and we accomplish this with plenty of open communication and positive reinforcement.

Challenging Stereotypes

A lot of books and movies, and even my two kids, think about scientists as crazy people making explosions in a lab with no life outside work. In reality, we’re just doing a job we’re passionate about. At Upkara, we’re fighting every day to make a difference and bring change to the world.

Tackling the Big Problems Together

One of my favorite memories here is working to demonstrate our technology’s benefit and create an in-house assay using an enzyme called luciferase. This enzyme is quite sensitive to both temperature and time, so I developed this as a model system to demonstrate how we stabilize biomolecules without needing cold storage. I also participated in our first publication as a company, which compiled my work on the reagent model system to exhibit our technology to the wider scientific community.

Moving forward, the type of critical thinking we embrace here at Upkara is needed to solve the problems facing our world. We have a ton of puzzles to figure out regarding critical reagents and vaccines—and the pandemic highlighted many of them. From new production technologies and improving their effectiveness to reducing costs and making vaccines more globally accessible, these issues require creative solutions and a lot of people working together to come up with them.

Having people coming together from different perspectives is also huge. Here we’ve built a culture where everyone has an opportunity, no matter their gender, religion, race, or language. We have a diverse team full of unique experiences and I believe that makes us more creative and innovative.