Since the age of 14, Lauren Repmann has been working at an accelerated pace. By the time she graduated from high school, she already had her associate degree.
Now, at 21, she has a full-time job with Merck in Durham, North Carolina. She is the first Rowan University student to land a place in the pharmaceutical company’s three-year Manufacturing Leadership Development Program (MLDP) – and since graduating as a biomedical engineer in December, a full semester earlier, she is also the first of her cohort to start in the program.
Merck’s MLDP is designed to provide an environment where university graduates can grow and gain experience in manufacturing and delivering medicines and vaccines that save and improve lives around the world. The program offers mentorship from senior Merck executives, exposure to real-world business challenges, and training from leading scientists and engineers.
“I’ve always been someone who likes to challenge myself,” said Repmann, who grew up in Laurence Harbor, Middlesex County, with a view of the New York skyline glistening beyond. from his bedroom window. “I don’t like to take the easy route.”
She comes from an engineering family: both parents have an engineering background and her younger brother, Jason, is a second year in Rowan’s mechanical engineering program.
While trying to decide which university to attend, Repmann made an immediate impression on faculty researcher Dr. Mary Staehle during a visit to Henry M. Rowan College of Engineering.
“Lauren came with a list of questions and a very defined profile of what she was looking for in a biomedical engineering university and program,” Staehle recalls. “And it ended up being almost perfect for Rowan. We were able to give her everything she was looking for in college, plus things she didn’t know she was looking for.
“She joined my lab during her first semester,” Staehle said. “That’s quite unusual for an undergraduate.”
Throughout his years at Rowan, Repmann pursued research studies in Staehle’s laboratory on the toxicity of various chemicals to the nervous system and was among the co-authors with Staehle of a paper examining developmental neurotoxicity. caused by chemicals. When the experiments failed, she took what she learned and applied it to the next project.
“We learned a lot from failure,” Staehle said. “She was able to put that information forward for some of our new ventures in the lab.”
Students have the opportunity to work on major research projects at Rowan funded by the National Institutes of Health, the National Science Foundation, industry and others, said Dr. Mark Byrne, founding department head and professor of biomedical genius.
“Great students like Lauren excel in this environment and can have a substantial impact by becoming top engineers,” Byrne said.
At the height of the pandemic lockdown, she joined her father on the front lines of manufacturing, producing components for medical devices. Last year, she landed a summer research fellowship at the University of Florida.
Also part of the Honors College, Repmann has mentored first-year engineering students, worked as an admissions ambassador for Rowan, and served as president of the Rowan University IEEE Women in Engineering Club. She also built Rowan University’s 3D printing club from the ground up, Staehle noted. It was recognized as the best student organization at the University last year.
“Not only did she design this organization to teach and train Rowan’s students in 3D printing, but she also made sure they were philanthropic in these activities, directly impacting the surrounding communities,” Staehle said.
Her studies and approach to learning impressed Dr. Erik Brewer, who teaches in Rowan’s biomedical engineering department.
“She has a real sense of wanting to improve,” Brewer said. “If I had an employee like this, it’s someone I could trust to give a mission.”
At Merck, Repmann works in the technical operations team, supporting the manufacturing process for an important vaccine. She will serve in this role until August 2023, when she will transition to the second of three rotations at another Merck site, possibly overseas.
“I want to make this world a better place for all the generations that will come after me,” Repmann said. “I know it’s a cliché, but that’s what I want to dedicate my life to. I’m really excited about everything that’s happening on this trip.