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Life at Nautilus

Interview with Wade Dugdale – Nautilus Operations Program Manager

Tyler Ford

Tyler Ford

December 6, 2022

Headshot and quote from Nautilus Operations Program Manager, Wade Dugdale

Wade Dugdale’s fascination with biology started when he was young. He got great joy out of germinating vegetables and rearing tadpoles into polliwogs that would eventually hop their way out of his backyard. When Wade entered college, he focused on life at its smallest scales majoring in Molecular, Cellular, and Developmental biology. Nonetheless, he retained his love for life at the macro scale and pulled in a second major in Marine Biology. Indeed, Wade loves thinking about the ways things happening at incredibly small scales impact all of us living in the macro world.  His career and work at Nautilus are all about bridging similar gaps.

How did you get your start in biotech?

I did undergraduate research focused on using microscopic organisms to produce fuel-like and medicinal compounds in a more sustainable way. I was amazed by the fact that tiny organisms could be turned into miniature factories with the potential to revolutionize fuel and chemical production. With the right feedstocks, the powers of these minuscule critters could go a long way toward fighting climate change.

Later, I co-founded a biotech company focused on R&D in the same space. My goal was to make microbe-based chemical production commercially viable from sustainable feedstocks. As a founder of a small company, I had to take on many roles. I was scientist, fundraiser, lab manager, custodian, and more. The company did not make it through, but the experience gave me an excellent grasp of the many moving parts involved in building a successful biotech and I got a sense of fulfillment seeing the utility that comes from connecting those parts.

How did you end up at Nautilus?

After a brief stint working in the coffee industry, both as a barista and as a Brewing Production Lead who helped scale the company’s brewing/bottling processes, I had an urge to get back into biotech. A friend told me about Nautilus and while I was excited about Nautilus’ potential to connect protein-level data to healthcare solutions and research, I was firmly convinced to work here after meeting the team during my interview. No one who interviewed me seemed like they were trying to probe or test me but instead were genuinely interested in how they could collaborate with me to build something great. It was a truly welcoming atmosphere and impressed me enough that I joined the team as an Engineering Research Associate.

Why did you end up in an operations-focused role?

When I started at Nautilus, I was originally going to work on developing flow cells for a variety of applications but expressed interest in helping coordinate people across teams instead of focusing on one specialization. I wanted to be able to interact with and help people across Nautilus who do all kinds of specialized work. As Nautilus has scaled, there has been a growing need for people who focus on cross-team coordination, and it made a lot of sense for me to move into operations. I make sure Nautilus’ internal teams and resources are leveraged in the best, most efficient ways while enabling team members to focus on their most critical projects by outsourcing when possible.

Seeing Nautilus through to success

I love that I am working at a company whose technology can have broad impacts across many fields. For the next step in my career, I would like to use my expertise in developing and optimizing processes to ensure that successive iterations of Nautilus’ technology get into the hands of researchers who need them and thereby enable the technology’s greatest impact possible.

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