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Paving the Way for Young Clinical Scientists

Gene Rogers Recognized as Exemplary Mentor

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The Eugene J. Rogers Annual Travel Award was given to Yuna Gong, right, a laboratory scientist at UMass Medical School, UMass Memorial Laboratories.

By Karen Angelo

A leading clinical chemistry organization has created an annual award in Prof. Eugene Rogers’ name to be given to a young clinical laboratory scientist. It gives aspiring scientists an opportunity to compete in a poster presentation and win a monetary travel award to present research findings at the National American Association for Clinical Chemistry (AACC) meeting. 

“Gene Rogers is a respected and an outstanding mentor to UMass students,” said Mark Kellogg, associate director of clinical chemistry at Boston Children’s Hospital and assistant professor of pathology at Harvard Medical School. At events, I see Gene quietly nudging students to speak up and mingle with the professionals in attendance, and he brings up topics that allow the students to lead a conversation. While I sometimes do not recall the main speaker at these annual events, I always recall the students and their stories.” 

Mentor and Leader to Students 

As chair of the Clinical Laboratories and Nutritional Sciences Department, Eugene Rogers has been actively involved in the education of future laboratory professionals, in and out of the classroom, for more than 30 years. Aaron Stella, who first took undergraduate clinical chemistry classes with Rogers in 2007, worked as a teaching assistant and laboratory instructor under the guidance of Rogers and has since graduated with bachelor’s and master’s degrees. He is currently enrolled in the University’s biomedical engineering and biotechnology Ph.D. program with Rogers as his adviser. “Prof. Rogers constantly tells me that I must become an expert in the content that I study and research,” says Stella, who also works at Mayo Medical Laboratories New England in Andover. “He intentionally has me struggle with challenges to develop my critical thinking skills. Because of the quality training he has given me, he has shaped me as a professional like no other person has ever done.” 

Beyond the classroom, he encourages students to get involved with the Northeast Section of the AACC, a society of laboratory professionals, physicians and research scientists that helps students network with leaders in their field, learn about cutting-edge projects and sharpen their presentation skills. 

The Section’s Board of Directors calls upon Rogers regularly in his role as ‘Friend of the Board’ to provide consultation and input. He organizes the annual Laboratory Science Student Night where as many as 20 senior medical laboratory science students from the University are supported by the section to attend the annual November dinner and presentation meeting. 

“The board realized that the recruitment of young laboratory scientists into this specialty area would provide unique opportunities that would help pave the way for new young clinical chemists,” said Rogers.

Last year, Rogers suggested that the board expand student opportunities by adding an event where young professionals – including his UMass Lowell students – could present posters on their research projects. The Northeast Section board decided that the winner of the annual competition would receive a travel award to present their research at the AACC national meeting. The naming of the Eugene J. Rogers Travel Award reflects Rogers’ long-term dedication to student education and advancement in the field of clinical chemistry. 

“Gene offered to provide initial funds for the award and this immediately motivated other organization members and industry partners to donate,” says Kellogg. “This reaction has put the event on solid financial footing, guaranteeing its’ future.” 

Early in Rogers’ medical laboratory science career, he managed a clinical chemistry laboratory in a hospital where he realized the important role practicing clinical chemists play in the detection, monitoring and treatment of disease. 

“By working closely with the Northeast Section of the AACC, I am able to facilitate the connection between students and the profession that I have found so rewarding,” says Rogers. “I felt that this link to the profession for young student laboratory scientists had been missing in my career and I am grateful that the local board sees value in this program and continues to provide support.” 

Kellogg attests to Rogers’ influence, saying “His dedication to involve students in the professional organization is infectious and the members of Northeast Section of the AACC look forward to these student events each year.”