Judith Kjlstrom Headshot
Faculty Profile

Judith Kjelstrom

Dr. Judy Kjelstrom (aka Dr. Judy) has a rich background in health science and biotechnology education and training, clinical laboratory science, microbiology, program administration, mentoring and leadership.  From 2004 to 2018, she directed the UC Davis Biotechnology Program (est. 1986), which is a novel program that partners effectively across the campus and with the life sciences industry. Although the Program is small in the number of personnel, it is involved in a large number of cross-disciplinary projects:  1) The NIH NIGMS T32 Biotechnology Training Grant; 2) The innovative DEB (Designated Emphasis in Biotechnology) graduate program – focused on developing an entrepreneurial spirit in PhD students in STEM. The DEB partners with a numerous companies, national labs and government agencies. Over 250 PhD students have completed paid 3-6 month internships. Examples of partners include Genentech, Novozymes, Monsanto, IBM, Marrone Bioinnovations, OncoMed, Sutro Pharma, BioMarin, Agilent, Celgene SF, etc.; 3) The Advanced Degree Program (ADP) for corporate employees. Employees earn a PhD in life sciences at UC Davis without leaving their industry position; and 4) HHMI IMBS (Integrating Medicine into Basic Science) Graduate Training Program in Translational Research. This experience is invaluable in the new GSM Industry Immersion Course in Biotechnology.

From 1998-2018, Dr. Judy was a lecturer in the departments of Microbiology and MCB (Molecular & Cellular Biology) at UC Davis. She is the co-lead for two graduate seminars: MCB/ECH 294: Current Program in Biotechnology and MIC 292: From Discovery to Product: An Introduction to Biotechnology at the Industrial Level. She co-authored three publication on the DEB graduate program’s entrepreneurial efforts. in the October 2012 issue of the Journal of Commercial Biotechnology. See publication list at end.

Kjelstrom is committed to developing creative right brain thinking, entrepreneurship, leadership and business skills in PhD candidates in science and engineering. In October 2016, she was a recipient of a Champion Award from the GSM’s Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship for their 10 year celebration. In 2015, she was invited to be a keynote speaker at the Oregon Bio 2015 Conference (#oregonbio2015) in Portland. In addition to the keynote entitled: In Search of Opportunities – The 21st Century PhD Reality, she was asked to be on a breakout session panel: Women in Science: Mentoring, Networking and the Work/Life Balance.

Women in Leadership is a passion for Dr. Judy. She was a member of the 2008 Leadership California CIT (California Issues & Trends) class and is a Founding Member of the new WomenUp Network in Sacramento.  She strives for equity in STEM disciplines and instills these values in her students. From 2012-2018, she served as the faculty advisor for the student run ESTEME (Equity in STEM and Entrepreneurship) organization. She also encourages women to become entrepreneurs. She was awarded a Chancellor’s Achievement Award for Diversity and Community for 2014-2015. In 2016, she received one of the Sacramento Business Journal’s “Women Who Mean Business Awards”. In 2018, she was awarded the James H. Meyer Award for Distinguished Service, the highest UC Davis honor for a member of the Academic Federation.

In addition to her involvement in graduate education, she has been a co-principle investigator for numerous National Science Foundation “Train-the Trainer” Summer Institutes in Biotechnology for high school and community college teachers. She was the co-founder of the BioTechSYSTEM consortium for K-12 STEM education in the greater Sacramento region, which includes the annual Teen Biotech Challenge. In 2012, she was selected as a member of the Board of Directors and Executive Committee as well as co-chair, of the Education Committee for the Powerhouse Science Center in downtown Sacramento.

Prior to her employment at UC Davis, she taught Introductory Microbiology, Anatomy & Physiology and General Biology at regional community colleges and Sacramento State University.  During her 12 years as a Clinical Laboratory Scientist, she oversaw the in-service and medical technology trainee education. Dr. Kjelstrom earned a B.S. in Biological Sciences with a concentration in Clinical Laboratory Technology (summa cum laude) from Sacramento State University and a Ph.D. in Microbiology (with a focus on medical microbiology and immunology) from the University of California, Davis.

Favorite Business Principles: “Together is Better” and “Trust Trumps Everything

Publications (related to Biotechnology Education and Entrepreneurship)