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Kathy Wyss
IU Bloomington Biology

Last modified: Monday, March 28, 2011

30th Joan Wood lecturer made science her business

March 28, 2011

BLOOMINGTON, Ind. -- This year's Joan Wood lecturer, Indiana University Bloomington graduate Tracy Lawhon, knows what it means to turn scientific discoveries into products people can use -- even her career has been an exercise in translating research into business.

Lawhon (B.S. microbiology 1988, J.D. 1994) is the chief pharmaceutical development officer for Tragara Pharmaceuticals, and is being honored for her professional successes by the IU Bloomington Department of Biology.

Tracy Lawhon

Photo courtesy of Tracy Lawhon

IU Bloomington alumna Tracy Lawhon (B.S. 1988, J.D. 1994)

Print-Quality Photo

Lawhon will give the 30th Joan Wood lecture on Wednesday, March 30, at 4 p.m in Myers Hall 130 (Bloomington campus). Her talk, titled "The Path Not Well Traveled: From Scientist to Entrepreneur," is free and open to the public.

Lawhon has worked for a number of life sciences businesses, including Abbott and Eli Lilly. In 2007, she co-founded San Diego-based Tragrara Pharmaceuticals with colleagues from a previous endeavor.

Lawhon serves on the steering committee of Better Education for Women in Science and Engineering (BE WiSE), a program within the San Diego Science Alliance. Lawhon is also a member of ATHENA, an organization for executive women in the sciences, for which she serves as a mentor and organizes career planning workshops.

"I am not a big believer in planning out your career or life path for the next five, 10, or 20 years," Lawhon said. "If you are too focused on a destination, you can miss some great paths along the way. I certainly had ideas of what I wanted to do when I graduated from college and what I would achieve in my career. But I could never have imagined the path I actually took."

The Joan Wood Lecture Series provides a forum for undergraduates and graduate students to interact with women in science-related careers. Designed to encourage undergraduate women to pursue advanced degrees in science, the series showcases the many career opportunities available to science majors. Before her death in 1990, Dr. Wood was a strong advocate of women in the sciences and remained active in educational programs within the IU Department of Biology. Memorial contributions made in her honor helped establish this lecture series.

To speak with Lawhon, please contact Kathy Wyss, IU Bloomington Biology, at at 812-855-6195 or