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Justin Burke

Lab Assistant

I was born and raised on Long Island.  For as long as I can remember I have always been interested in science.  As a child I was fascinated by anything to do with space.  I would always sit in my backyard staring at the sky wondering what was out there.  It wasn’t until much later on that I would become interested in Biology.  My high school didn’t require me to take a science course my last two years in order to graduate and so I kind of lost interest in science.  It was always in the back of my mind and I would still watch some of those science shows on TV (this was the time that you could actually discover things on the Discovery Channel and learn things on The Learning Channel) but that was the extent of it.

When I graduated high school I went to Suffolk Community College for business management which I quickly learned I didn’t like and so I quit after a year.  I concentrated on my job at a cleaning company after that and eventually became the Operations Manager which I enjoyed for a few years but I never really felt fulfilled.  In desperate need of a change, I left there and moved to Cape Coral, Florida.  It was there that I would rediscover my passion for science that I had when I was a little kid.  The night sky looked like nothing I’d ever seen before (there’s too much light pollution on Long Island).  Again I found myself sitting outside staring at the night sky which inspired me to start reading Carl Sagan and Anne Druyans ‘A Pale Blue Dot’.  When I finished that I was hooked again and I started reading, watching, and listening to everything about science I could get my hands on.  At the time this was just a hobby of mine and I had no intention of making it a career.  Eventually the heat in Southwest Florida became too much and so I moved back to NY after about eight months.

Struggling to find a job outside of the cleaning industry I decided to go back to school to get my degree which I always regretted not finishing.  In my second semester back I took a physical anthropology course which was my first real introduction to genetics and biology in college.  After about a year and a half, I graduated from Suffolk and enrolled in Stony Brook University studying biochemistry and cell biology.  That eventually led me to getting a job at the DNA Learning Center and I couldn’t be happier professionally.  

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