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Alumni Spotlight: Christopher Pohl

Michigan State University's Pharmacology and Toxicology Online Masters Program allows students to work full time and attend classes. It is a program made for working professionals and is great for those looking to further their career in pharmacology and toxicology. Christopher Pohl, MS class of 2023, talks about his experience as a masters student.

Chris Pohl

Christoper Pohl

Tell me a little bit about yourself? What do you like to do outside of work and school?

Things that I like to do outside of work are woodworking, snowboarding and rock climbing.

What is your educational background and when did you complete your degrees and where? For the masters can you tell me what program and/or certificate you completed?

I obtained my Bachelor of Science at Boise State University in Materials Science and Engineering in 2008. For my masters, I obtained a Master of Science in Pharmacology and Toxicology at Michigan State University in 2023.

What was your experience in the online master’s program like?

The online program is great. It allowed me to work towards a masters while continuing to work at Medtronic as well as living in Utah. It was fantastic to be able to continue my education at the same time as life.

After getting your masters in pharmacology and toxicology what do you plan on doing?

I will continue to work at Medtronic as a Medical Device Toxicologist.

Can you briefly describe your career path and what lead you to applying for the phmtox masters?

I graduated with my bachelors in 2008 and was unable to get a job due to the housing crash. I then went to the Peace Corps in Malawi, Africa. Then came back to the US and tried to get into different masters programs but did not have a high enough GPA from my previous schooling. I was able to start working for a medical device company in Biocompatibility, and that naturally lead into the toxicology aspect in Biocompatibility and that is what got me interested in masters programs for toxicology. I found the Michigan State program and started classes the next semester (fall 2019).

Can you describe your current work you do?

I am a medical device toxicologist. I work with a manufacturing company (Medtronic) to ensure that medical devices are safe for patients and healthcare providers in terms of the toxicological risks (instead of mechanical or electrical risks).

What might a typical day on the job look like for you?

A typical day for me starts with reviewing emails to make sure that there are no dumpster fires (something like a manufacturing line that has been shut down or a response from a Regulatory Body). After checking emails, I will typically write on a report or a protocol for any testing on devices that need testing. The rest of the day will be occupied in meetings talking about potential changes, new products that are being developed, or talking about companywide testing strategies. There are also meetings with regulatory bodies, some side research, and preparing for conferences or presentations.

Do you have any advice for students looking to get into the phmtox masters programs?

Get ready for a lot of work. It is a great program, but you get out what you put into it. If you do not work hard at it, you might learn something, but not much. For me, it is less about the grade and more about what you can take away from the class and the information that can be used in a job.

What is your favorite part about our program?

My favorite part about the program is that it is a distance learning class. What that has done is that I get to know people through classes and then will see them at conferences and have other interactions with them overall. It is wonderful to see those two sides of my life (the educational and professional) crossing like that!