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York College Alumna Makes Waves in the World of Bioscience

Abbie Breton in the biology lab

Abbie Breton ’14 is using her degree in Biological Sciences as an applications scientist, and the global perspective her education provided helps her collaborate with partners worldwide.

Abbie Breton ’14 knew York College of Pennsylvania inside and out from the time she was a child. For 37 years, her mother, Connie Werner, was a professor in the Biology Department. When Breton stayed home from school, she’d often accompany her mom to classes.

While she eventually would follow in her mother’s science-driven footsteps, her journey did not take a straight path. She initially pursued a degree in dance at a school in New York City. She soon realized, though, that her true passion, like her mother’s, lay in the field of science, particularly medicine. She switched to a premed track and found her way to York College.

“I knew it was a really great campus, and I knew my mom really loved working there and loved her students,” Breton says.

Where science meets liberal arts

York College’s smaller class sizes and its close-knit community of students and professors contributed to Breton’s positive educational experience. Despite being a Biological Sciences major, she appreciated the interdisciplinary focus of her education.

"I had a really great experience at York College,” she says. “I really liked the liberal arts aspect of it, and I feel like that has helped me further my career.”

After graduating from York College, Breton quickly realized she didn’t want to work in a medical setting. She was drawn to lab work. Her initial job involved contract research in the purification of biopharmaceuticals. The work focused on the purification of and analytical methods for monoclonal antibodies, which are lab-made proteins that act like human antibodies and help fight certain cancers and other diseases.

Tosoh Bioscience, a company in King of Prussia, PA, that supplies chromatography columns, resins, and instruments used in the purification of biopharmaceuticals, became Breton’s next career destination. She joined the company in 2019 as a research and development scientist working on chromatography columns. These essential medical lab tools are used to purify and analyze biopharmaceuticals. Her current position is that of applications scientist.

Splitting her time among lab work, conferences, and sales meetings, Breton has been surprised to find that her liberal arts education at York College plays such a pivotal role in her career. She attributes her multidisciplinary approach to her job to the diverse range of courses she took at the College.

"Being exposed to more than just Biology courses allowed me to approach my job from multiple angles,” she says. “My science work supports our sales team, while having that really diverse background from York College helps me to see things from a sales and marketing point of view."

‘Make waves in your career’

Breton’s ability to communicate and collaborate with colleagues and clients from different parts of the world has also been bolstered by the well-rounded education she received at York College. With Tosoh Bioscience, she has had the opportunity to travel to Germany, Portugal, and Japan, as well as across the United States. The College provided her with not only academic knowledge but the practical skills and global perspective to connect and communicate in each situation she encounters.

Breton’s career aspirations include continuing to grow at Tosoh Bioscience, possibly moving out of the lab and into a sales role and becoming a product specialist. That would further marry her love of sales and science.

“There’s more to a biology major than just getting a Ph.D., working in a lab, or working in education,” she says. “I do work in a lab every day, but I do more than sit in the lab and crunch data. I’m attending conferences and supporting sales. You don’t have to go to somewhere like Harvard or University of Pennsylvania to be able to do these things. You can go to York College and really make waves in your career.”