How an Alum Is Shaping the Future with Biotechnology

Alumnus Jordan Ruggieri (BS ’13) has carved a unique career path since graduating from Cal State Fullerton. Now a marketing manager in biotechnology, Ruggieri finds great joy in his work – and his degree has helped him each step of the way.

Ruggieri presenting a PowerPoint.

In 2009, Jordan Ruggieri (BS ’13) began his cellular and developmental biology education at CSUF’s College of Natural Sciences & Mathematics, putting him on a life-changing trajectory that carried him to unexpected places. During his time at CSUF, Ruggieri was part of the President’s Scholars Program, acted as a student ambassador, and conducted award-winning research through the University Honors Program in the lab of Hope Johnson, professor of biology.

Now, Ruggieri enjoys a rewarding job as a regional marketing manager for the Fortune 500 biotechnology company Thermo Fisher Scientific – a career that allows him to use his NSM education in unexpected and fulfilling ways.

An Unconventional Career Path

Ruggieri’s full title at Thermo Fisher Scientific is regional marketing manager of qPCR/dPCR (quantitative and digital polymerase chain reaction) instruments, genetic sciences division. PCR instruments amplify genetic material to create enough for scientists to test or work with. In this position, Ruggieri oversees qPCR and dPCR products by developing and managing campaigns and strategies to market them to scientists in relevant fields.

“My days are never the same,” he says. “Most of my time is spent on strategy calls and discussing future marketing programs so we’re always prepared for whatever is coming. Many of the programs include seminars, social posts, retargeting ads, audience segmentation – any and every tool related to demand generation and marketing communications.”

Ruggieri as a student

Ruggieri didn’t always dream of a career in biotech marketing. In fact, he used to want to be a dentist – an ambition that faded in late 2012 when an interning experience made him realize he didn’t really enjoy it. After graduating in 2013, he accepted a research associate position for a small life sciences biotech company, having missed the deadline for the Ph.D. program he was considering.

“I started off in the lab doing research and development work, and I found the experience and its impact on labs around the world to be very inspiring,” he says. “I realized that biotechnology was a rewarding career path that I greatly enjoyed. I decided to stick with this industry, and I’ve never regretted it.”

When the opportunity to move into biotech marketing arose, Ruggieri decided to take it. It was here that he discovered another joy: connecting scientists with valuable tools to aid their research.

“I found that I loved telling stories about science and how customers are changing the world with amazing discoveries,” he says. “After that, I took various marketing jobs in life sciences and clinical diagnostics spaces, ranging from demand generation to product management. This helped prepare me for my current role, which is a blend of everything marketing-related.”

The Foundation of Success

“I didn’t have a linear career path by any stretch of the imagination,” Ruggieri acknowledges. Despite the change in his career ambitions and the unique path he took, he still finds great value in his NSM education.

In a professional headshot photo, alum Jordan Ruggieri is smiling at the camera. Wearing black glasses, a navy blazer, and a simple button-up shirt, he looks polished and happy.
Jordan Ruggieri, NSM alum, uses his CSUF experiences to inform his current everyday career responsibilities.

“My degree helped me develop critical thinking and problem-solving skills that are useful when setting priorities. It also helped me to analyze data and hone my scientific writing, which have both proved very valuable,” Ruggieri says. NSM also helped him build soft skills like time management, communication (including public speaking), self-discipline, and collaboration. “Without these, there’s no way I would be successful in my current role.”

Many of these skills he attributes to his research experience at CSUF, which is what drew him to the University initially. “NSM especially values undergraduates,” he says. “The college enables them to take active roles in research projects and publish and present their findings, which is rare at other programs. I was extremely happy with my research experiences there.”

Ruggieri spent three years working with a manganese-oxidizing protein in Johnson’s lab, ultimately publishing his work in a thesis through the honors program and earning a “Best Senior Honors Project” award.

“Johnson was a great mentor and PI,” he says. “She challenged my findings, helped me think critically about the results, and elevated my successes in ways that inspire me to be a better mentor to my own team now.”

Robust support like financial aid opportunities, the Health Professions Advising Office, and honors programs also attracted Ruggieri to CSUF. He earned a full-ride scholarship and participated in the President’s Scholars Program throughout his college career. It was this program’s networking opportunities that connected him with the dental experience that changed his trajectory.

“NSM and CSUF played a considerable role in preparing me for my career. The training I received was top-notch and helped me significantly stand out from others.”

Jordan Ruggieri (BS ’13), regional marketing manager at Thermo Fisher Scientific

“Although this wasn’t the intended result, it was critical for me and made a huge impact on the direction of my life,” he says.

One of the biggest lessons Ruggieri learned came from his second-semester organic chemistry class. “I flat-out failed my first exam,” he remembers. “I had to completely change the way I studied and prepared. Getting out of my comfort zone, learning how to reapproach challenging situations, and reevaluating my methods were critically valuable for my career. Plus, I was still able to pull off an A in the class!”

Experiences like hunting scorpions with peers on weekend trips to Zzyzx and working with remarkable faculty like Johnson and Sean Walker, professor and associate dean of NSM, have stuck with Ruggieri.

“Those overnight trips were some of my favorite moments,” he says. “Walker was my advisor, and his enthusiasm for students and science was vital to me finding my passion for helping other scientists.”

An Amazing Place to Be

Ruggieri was the NSM ambassador for the 2023 Day of Giving event on March 8, and he partnered with Walker to match funds when 100 people donated to the college.

“NSM and CSUF played a considerable role in preparing me for my career,” he says. “The training I received was top-notch and helped me significantly stand out from others. Plus, I want students to know that they don’t have to go into a medical profession to find fulfillment or be successful. I want to inspire them to go into an industry that allows them to shape the next generation of technological and medical advances. Giving back to NSM is the start of that goal.”

When asked if he plans to conduct research again, Ruggieri’s response is simple: “My view is that marketing is research. I use the scientific method for every ad campaign that I push live, just in a different context. I create a hypothesis and null hypothesis for each campaign and use metrics to support or reject them, adjust my methods, and set up a new experiment. Since I work with scientists, I feel attached to the research being conducted with our products.”

Ruggieri encourages students to enter the biotech industry, especially those who want to make a difference in the world. “Biotech lets you be part of advancing technology that makes a global impact, from climate change to medical innovations,” he says. “It’s an amazing place to be.”

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