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U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


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Science and Our Food Supply Careers: Rene E. Sotomayor, Ph.D.

Careers in Food Science Main Page

"Reading about the lives of famous scientists and how they succeeded can be incredibly inspirational."

Career Title:
Supervisory Research Biologist
Food and Drug Administration
Center for Food Safety and Applied Nutrition
Washington, DC

Field of Expertise:
Biochemical Toxicology

Academic Studies:
University of Chile
Santiago, Chile
Bachelor of Science in Genetics

University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee
Ph.D. in Molecular and Cellular Biology

Employment History:
Assistant Professor of Biology
School of Medicine and School of Veterinarian Medicine
Santiago, Chile

Research Associate, Biology
Oak Ridge National Laboratory
Oak Ridge, Tennessee

Guest Scientist
Institute of Genetics
Munich, Germany

Research Assistant/Professor of Biology
University of Tennessee
Knoxville, Tennessee


"If I hadn't become a scientist, I would have become . . . a photographer or abstract painter."


Q: What do you do in your current job?
I study the toxicological effects of food contaminants at the molecular level, particularly in mammalian DNA.

Q: Was science your favorite subject in school?
Yes, particularly biology. Microscopes, test tubes, and science books always intrigued me as a young boy. At the age of 7, I was able to use a professional microscope. Art is also important to me. I listen to classical music while I'm working on experiments in the lab. The music helps my ideas flow.

Q: Have you been involved in any new scientific discoveries?
I discovered that the live, attenuated (ability to reduce virulence) virus vaccine for hog cholera was capable of breaking chromosomes in vivo (while the animal is still alive). This occurrence can cause serious problems for the animal. This finding is important because it may also extend to vaccines used for humans.

Q: What advice would you give to students who are interested in pursuing a career in science?
A: Learn the basics of science in high school and continue these studies through college. Also, reading about the lives of famous scientists and how they succeeded can be incredibly inspirational.



May 2001