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Michelle Gurrola-Gal

Dalhousie University

Michelle Gurrola-Gal joined Dalhousie University as the Business Process Manager for the Office of Commercialization and Industry Engagement (OCIE) in 2020 after over 10 years working in biomedical research. Michelle has a Master of Science degree in Biology from Villanova University and a Bachelor of Science degree in Veterinary Technology (minor in Management) from Quinnipiac University. As Business Process Manager for OCIE, Michelle is responsible for facilitating industry collaborations, assessing process improvements, supporting intellectual property management, and preparing and negotiating a variety of industry partnered contracts. (OCIE website here)

Tell us about the work you did before joining Springboard.

I worked in veterinary medicine for several years. After I finished my undergrad in veterinary sciences, in Connecticut, I worked for Charles River Laboratories, a preclinical research safety assessment facility, working with laboratory animals as a research technician for almost a year before transitioning into  technical training roles. Technical training involved training the technicians on how to perform their jobs, prioritize animal welfare, and practice “good science” by following proper scientific principals and regulatory standards. That expanded into taking on more corporate educational roles, rolling out seminars on company policies, animal welfare, regulatory agency requirements and assuring our team of 300 people at the Pennsylvania site received their annual and ongoing training.

What led you to Halifax?

While I was working full-time in the preclinical research environment, I pursued a Master of Science degree in biology. During my masters, I did my thesis on zebrafish as a preclinical toxicological model, and afterwards I wanted to continue my work with zebrafish.

This is what led me to Halifax. There is a zebrafish lab that’s part of Dalhousie’s CORES facilities. At the time, there was a doctor with a research team using zebrafish to model pediatric cancers and leukemia, and I was hired to manage the research program . This was my introduction to university, grant-paid research, the Office of Commercialization & Industry Engagement at Dalhousie (Dal OCIE) and Springboard.

Coming from a predominantly research background, what were your initial thoughts about the Springboard network?

I began with OCIE in a short-term contract and I loved it. I thought: ‘what an interesting environment to be connecting academic researchers with local and nation-wide companies.’

In the interim, I worked full time at the Canadian Centre for Vaccinology as a project manager of clinical trials for just shy of a year. In that time, I found myself missing broadness and range of what the OCIE group at Dal, and all of our Springboard members participate in, which is building connections and bringing people together. Although I am a scientist at heart, I realized that I wanted to support the entire research community by connecting industry with the experts in the field and at the research bench.

Tell us about your day-today with Dal OCIE.

Rejoining OCIE, my focus has been businesses processes, its optimization and how to actually move things, whether it’s conversations or contracts, between the many parts of the university and the industry partners with whom we work. It’s about moving the ball forward for all parties and making sure all the right people are engaged.

How does the Springboard network support your goals?

One of the things I looked forward to most when rejoining Dal OCIE was, not just knowing I had a great team within my own institution, but knowing that I had this network of support. Being back in the Springboard family and having the network’s time and their support really helped me jump back in and reacclimate.