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Life at Nautilus

Interview with Steven Tan – Nautilus Scientist

Tyler Ford

Tyler Ford

January 10, 2023

Headshot and quote from Steven Tan, Nautilus Scientist

Steven is a scientist working to ensure that we can detect and quantify a wide variety of proteins on the Nautilus Proteome Analysis Platform. He first became fascinated with molecular biology in high school when he learned about the molecular machines (ATP synthases) that generate chemical energy in our cells. Steven was amazed that these intricate, rotor-like proteins evolved and was incredibly curious about how they work and respond to the needs of cells. In his undergraduate and graduate work, his fascination with fundamental biological processes continued to drive him as he untangled the ways cells exert forces and respond to their environments. He is particularly excited that the Nautilus platform holds the potential to enable researchers to answer similar fundamental biological questions.

How did you end up working at Nautilus? 

When I graduated with my PhD, I did a short postdoc developing means to measure proteins at the single-molecule level using specialized ELISA-like assays. After this short stint in applied research, I was initially hoping to go into a teaching position, but the pandemic made this very difficult. Serendipitously, a previous postdoc in my graduate lab introduced me to her husband who had been working at Nautilus from its early days. Talking with him, I realized that my skills aligned quite well with Nautilus’ needs. Everyone was friendly and interesting to talk to during the interviews, and I recognized the potential of the Nautilus platform very quickly.  

Many biology researchers must identify and measure proteins as part of their research, but the means we have to do this are often painstaking and challenging. As envisioned, the Nautilus platform will have practical use for a ton of researchers, and I was motivated to accept a position here because of the many ways our technology can potentially impact scientist’s everyday lives. 

What is your day-to-day like at Nautilus?

On a day-to-day basis, I do experiments and work with various teams with the aim of ensuring that we can measure a wide range of proteins on our Proteome Analysis Platform.

I’ve also begun taking on more of a leadership role recently and help coordinate experiments across teams. I’m still deciding whether I like this kind of work but I have many mentors to learn from here. I also love that my managers are flexible in terms of letting me take on roles that I enjoy most. 

Finally, I’ve gotten the opportunity to flex some of my teaching muscles at Nautilus. I recently mentored freshman and sophomore college students interested in biotech through the SMASH program. I hope to get to do more of this kind of teaching/mentoring in the future. 

What are you most excited about in Nautilus’ future? 

I‘m very excited to get Nautilus’ technology into the hands of researchers and see them using it successfully. Of course, I’m also excited about the long-term potential of the platform to improve healthcare, but I’m relatively agnostic to what kinds of research its used for in the short term. As long as it enables scientists to do good work, I’m happy. There are so many fundamental research areas that can be helped by our technology and I hope it will have positive impacts across many fields.

What are you excited about in your future? 

I’m still figuring that out, but I am grateful that I have the chance to do research, manage a few reports, and teach people at Nautilus. It gives me a great glimpse into the various paths my career can take.

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