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The Off the Bench podcast series discusses scientific and not-so-scientific ideas in laboratory medicine. Join the ASCLS Off the Bench Facebook Group to continue the discussions and share your feedback. Let’s share ideas and talk nerdy.

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June 28, 2024. This month, hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Doryan Redding meet up again with previous guest Grace Leu-Burke, MSCLS, MLS(ASCP), Associate Professor and Program Director of the MLS program at The University of Alaska, Anchorage. Doryan and Sophia pick Grace’s brain on how blood banking has changed since her student years, especially with the effects of HIV and Hepatitis in blood banking and safety, and compare it to Doryan’s experience being a new graduate in the blood bank during the early days of COVID-19.

May 31, 2024. This month, hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Doryan Redding talk with Dr. LaShanta Brice, DCLS, MLS(ASCP)CM, SH(ASCP)CM, about her amazing journey from an MLS in a hospital lab to a Doctor of Clinical Laboratory Science (DCLS) in industry. She describes what it’s like to go through the DCLS program, and what her role in industry is today.

April 26, 2024. In this month’s episode, host Sophia Chandrasekar talks with Professor Grace Leu-Burke of the University of Alaska in Anchorage (UAA). Professor Leu-Burke shares the challenges for a medical laboratory professional in Alaska and the research program she developed at UAA for the MLS program. Hear about her students’ research and fascinating (and terrifying!) observations that they’ve cultured.

March 29, 2024. In this episode, hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Doryan Redding speak with Letycia Nuñez-Argote, PhD, CPH, MLS(ASCP)CM, about the ASCLS Diversity Advocacy Council, the 2024 ASCLS PRISM: Pride · Respect · Inclusion · Support · Momentum Book Club, and how we can always be improving and learning about diversity, equity, and inclusion and how we see the world. Special thanks go out to our episode sponsor, the University of Cincinnati Online.

University of Cincinnati Online

December 29, 2023. It’s the final episode of Off the Bench for 2023. Hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Doryan Redding reflect on the past year and share upcoming news for 2024. Off the Bench will take a short break this winter and will be back with new episodes in March. Happy New Year to all medical laboratory professionals and listeners!

November 24, 2023. In this episode, hear impactful, heart-warming, and funny stories from medical laboratory professionals that were recorded during the 2023 ASCLS, AGT & SAFMLS Joint Annual Meeting in Providence. Hosts Doryan Redding and Sophia Chandrasekar reflect on what they love about each story. Special thanks go out to our episode sponsor, the University of Cincinnati Online.

University of Cincinnati Online

October 27, 2023. Beware: This episode is not for the squeamish. To get in the Halloween spirit, host Sophia Chandrasekar sits down with Brandy Gunsolus, DCLS, MLS(ASCP)CM, to hear her creepiest, most disgusting, and “more unusual” stories that happened while working in medical laboratories. Special thanks go out to our episode sponsor, the University of Cincinnati Online.

University of Cincinnati Online

September 29, 2023. In this episode, co-hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Doryan Redding continue going through the “Impromptu Views” recorded at the 2023 ASCLS, AGT & SAFMLS Joint Annual Meeting and dive into the importance of self-advocacy, community, and outreach in the laboratory field.

August 25, 2023. In this episode, co-hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Doryan Redding reflect on the 2023 ASCLS, AGT & SAFMLS Joint Annual Meeting (JAM). They also share advice given by JAM attendees to prospective and new medical laboratory science students and new laboratorians.

July 28, 2023. Hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Doryan Redding speak with Luis Plaza, MLS(ASCP)CM, the host of the Let’s Talk Micro podcast. Join the hosts as they speak to Luis as to how he got started, his motivations, and more!

July 4, 2023. During the 2023 ASCLS, AGT & SAFMLS Joint Annual Meeting (JAM) in Providence, RI, Off the Bench hosted and recorded the first ever JAM Query Check (QC) live show focused on questions related, and somewhat related, to medical laboratory science. Three contestants went buzzer-to-buzzer in friendly competition in categories both scientific and not-so-scientific. Audience members even got in on the action as lifelines for the contestants.

May 26, 2023. In this episode guests Dr. Kyle Riding and Emily Woten join a roundtable discussion with hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Galina Dronova about mental health, burnout, and mindfulness in the laboratory. Learn the signs of burnout and discover some tools and techniques to manage, prevent, and alleviate it.

Special thanks go out to our episode sponsor, the University of Cincinnati Online.

University of Cincinnati Online

April 28, 2023. What do MDMA, Ketamine, Psilocybin, and DMT have in common? All four previously considered as “drugs of abuse” are now moving into the therapeutic space for life affirming treatments. In this episode, host Galina Dronova and Dr. Frederick Strathmann discuss the current limitations of laboratory testing and what the future holds.


Special thanks go out to our episode sponsor, the University of Cincinnati Online.

University of Cincinnati Online

March 31, 2023. In this episode, Galina Dronova and Allison Germ outline and provide tips on how to host a trivia night for lab folks—perfect for Lab Week! And, we introduce our first Doryan’s Takes, with Doryan Redding reflecting on what Lab Week means for her. Special thanks go out to our episode sponsor, the University of Cincinnati Online.

University of Cincinnati Online

January 27, 2023. Host Sophia Chandrasekar makes an announcement about a short break for the podcast and exciting plans for the return in March 2023.

December 30, 2022. Wrap up 2022 with host Galina Dronova and Elizabeth Power, a sought after speaker, consultant, and CEO of EPower & Associates, as we discuss the importance of community in our personal and professional journeys. Listen for advice on how to build community with patients and care teams.

Learn more about Elizabeth:

Book references:

  • The Seven Levels of Intimacy: the Art of Loving and the Joy of Being Loved by Matthew Kelly
  • The Four Agreements: a Practical Guide to Personal Freedom, a Toltec Wisdom Book by don Miguel Ruiz

November 25, 2022. In this episode, host Galina Dronova sits down with Tori Nemitz and Dean Derhaag to talk about the crucial role and “a day in the life” of Point of Care specialists as the extroverted faces of the lab. Learn about wins, challenges, and their thoughts on nurses performing complex lab testing.

October 28, 2022. Join host Sophia Chandrasekar and guest Danielle Adank, MS, graduate student at Vanderbilt University, as they discuss the differences and similarities of a medical research laboratory vs a medical/clinical laboratory. The two also discuss the importance of seeing women and women-identifying people in STEM on social media, especially in traditionally male dominated scientific spaces. Follow Danielle on Instagram at @femme_in_stem.

September 30, 2022. Hosts Galina Dronova and Sophia Chandrasekar talk with ASCLS Executive Vice President Jim Flanigan about one of the most action-packed years for medical laboratory advocacy (aka, Labvocacy). Recent activities they discuss are:

This episode encourages you to get engaged and #Labvocate! You have the power and ability to make your voice heard.

August 26, 2022. Join host Sophia Chandrasekar as she explores Dr. Alan H.B. Wu’s mind to find out about his speculative science fiction lab novel, Mind Portal, and learn about speculative fiction, the creative process for the book, preparing it for a movie, and just talking about the impact that the lab had, and has. Dr. Wu is a professor of laboratory medicine at the University of California at San Francisco.


July 29, 2022. Join hosts Galina Dronova and Sophia Chandrasekar as they speak with Dr. Alan H.B. Wu, chief of the clinical chemistry and toxicology laboratories at San Francisco General Hospital, regarding his efforts of bringing the clinical laboratory to the public spotlight using books, television series, and a movie.

Read the books:



June 24, 2022. To prepare for the 2022 ASCLS, AGT & SAFMLS Joint Annual Meeting, which is taking place June 26-30 in Grand Rapids, MI, host Sophia Chandrasekar and fellow medical laboratory professional Mackenzie Edwards talk about networking, including tips for introverts.

May 27, 2022. Have you ever sat in a lecture and tried your best to hide that you’re gently dosing off? Do you shudder at the thought of having to remember to coagulation cascade? In this episode, hosts Galina Dronova and Justin Hanenberg discuss how we can transform laboratory medicine education, whether in the classroom or on the bench, from procedural knowledge to conceptual. With our guest experts, Dr. Justin Kreuter and Theresa Malin, MEd, MLS(ASCP)CM, we flip the script from creating short term memory retention to a story of meaning.


  • Brown, P., Roediger, H. McDaniel, M. (2014) Make it stick. The science of successful learning. The Belknap Press of Harvard University Press.
  • Cutrer, W. B., Miller, B., Pusic, M. V., Mejicano, G., Mangrulkar, R. S., Gruppen, L. D., Hawkins, R. E., Skochelak, S. E., & Moore, D. E. (2017). Fostering the development of master adaptive learners: A conceptual model to guide skill acquisition in medical education. Academic Medicine, 92(1), 70-75. DOI: 10.1097/ACM.0000000000001323
  • Cutrer, W. B., Atkinson, H. G., Friedman, E., Deiorio, N., Gruppen, L. D., Dekhtyar, M., Pusic. M. (2018). Exploring the characteristics and context that allow Master Adaptive Learners to thrive. Medical Teacher, 40(8), 791-796. DOI: 10.1080/0142159X.2018.1484560
  • Six Strategies for Effective Learning. The Learning Scientists.

April 29, 2022. To celebrate Medical Laboratory Professionals Week, hosts Galina, Justin, and Sophia speak to Pat Jones, recently retired medical laboratory professional, and reflect on written responses from additional new retirees Janice Conway-Klassesen, Deb Rodahl, and Charlie Weinzierl. They take a journey through the lab of yesteryears, as well as what the lab might look like in the future. All four sages give advice to all future and upcoming laboratorians included in the description below:

Janice Conway-Klassesen
Keep your eyes open for opportunities. Many laboratory practitioners are down on the profession due to the lack of recognition. But I believe that if you do not feel valued where you are, it is up to you to change that. You can work the bench for your whole career and feel very valued and fulfilled if you are in the right place. Or you can seize those little opportunities that present themselves and choose a different professional path. Like any other degree, you can use your laboratory education in a variety of different careers. Make your own career.

Pat Jones

  • Keep in mind that there is a person represented by the test you are performing. This provides motivation for consistent, high-quality work.
  • Keep learning. Scientific knowledge is always expanding, and learning new things keeps you interested and interesting. Being current facilitates pertinent conversations within the broader medical community.
  • Think outside the box. Laboratory medicine gives you great skills that are transferable to quality assurance, pharmaceuticals, biotech, management, etc.

Deb Rodahl
I always loved the laboratory because it represented a combination of science and technology. I think for the upcoming generations the same will be true, but as with anything, you get out of your career what you put into it.

  • Be active in a professional organization and understand that is how you will continue to learn and grow – you never know where this path will take you!
    Don’t isolate yourself in the laboratory, you need to interact with all the other healthcare team members.
    Remember your team is the entire health care team – you are all working to improve the lives of the patients we serve.
    Speak up and provide input – don’t wait for others to do it for you.
    Look for things to improve.
    Don’t be the person who wants things to “stay the same”; the world is continually changing/evolving and we need keep up or initiate the change.

Charlie Weinzierl
Hospital labs comprised half of my career. Reference laboratories another quarter. And the final quarter was in a Fortune 500 company that manufacturers and sells products to clinical laboratories. If you want to eventually move from the bench into supervision or management, you may want to volunteer for special projects as they come along. Better yet, make it known to your superiors that you welcome a challenge. Identifying problems in your workplace is helpful to enlightened leaders, and they love it when you have carefully thought of some possible avenues where solutions may be found.

March 25, 2022. In this silly and fun recalibration episode hosts Sophia Chandrasekar, Galina Dronova, and Justin Hanenberg take lab-related personality quizzes. Find out their results, and take the tests for yourself:

December 31, 2021. Hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Galina Dronova end the year with a re-cap of the best of the 2021 and a look forward to what’s coming in early 2022.

November 26, 2021. Are you currently working in the laboratory wondering when the staff shortages end? Or maybe you’re considering leaving the hospital/clinic workspace for another opportunity such as industry or IT? This podcast is for you. Host Galina speaks with Rick Panning, Senior Healthcare Consultant at ARUP Laboratories, about the state of healthcare today and how the major trends in the medical laboratory science field shape our daily life. More importantly, we discuss how we can be the change that moves the needle in a positive direction.

Take action! Learn how you can lend your voice to address funding for medical laboratories.

October 29, 2021. In this special Halloween episode Sophia and guest hosts Romy and Mackenzie read and react to medical laboratory horror stories submitted by Off the Bench listeners. You’ll laugh, you’ll cry, and you’ll be totally grossed out.

Please note: This episode contains graphic and potentially triggering things witnessed in the medical laboratory and hospital, including amputated limbs and maternal and child mortality.

September 24, 2021. In this episode produced by April Shields, graduate of the 2021 ASCLS Leadership Academy, Lucia Berte, MA, MT(ASCP)SBB, DLM, President of Laboratories Made Better! P.C., shares laboratory accreditation organizations’ data on the most common deficiencies reported by their assessors. She also presents resources for reducing or eliminating deficiencies.

This episode is available for one hour of P.A.C.E.® credit. Visit Off the Bench Podcast: 10 Common Lab Deficiencies to participate in the self-study through and earn your credit. Free for ASCLS members ($10 for non-members).

For more instructions, read How to Obtain Podcast CE Credit.

August 27, 2021. Hosts Justin Hanenberg and Galina Dronova find out how the HLA laboratories help clinical care teams monitor patient care for solid organ and hematopoietic cell transplants. Dr. Justin Kreuter, a clinical pathologist at Mayo Clinic, uses case studies to explain why HLA typing is important, as well as discusses the history and the future of the field.

This month, hosts Sophia Chandrasekar and Justin Hanenberg talk about microbiology and home brewing with Neva Parker from White Labs, a biotechnology company that provides liquid yeast cultures, analytical services, and consulting for the fermented beverage industry. Neva started at White Labs in 2003 as a lab technician and now serves as Director of Operations.

Host Sophia Chandrasekar talks with Clinical Laboratory Science Student Gabbi Frimpong and Assistant Professor Lisa Cremeans, both at the the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill Division of Clinical Laboratory Science, about how COVID has affected the medical laboratory science education system.

Host Galina Dronova sits down with Patrek Lundstrom, Leadership Development Specialist, for a discussion on how to develop your personal leadership philosophy and helpful advice on how to successfully take on leadership roles. Patrek currently works for the U.S. government and has held leadership positions for over 10 years at various organizations. His area of expertise is in emotional intelligence, conflict resolution, and leadership theory.

Sit down for an inspiring conversation with Elissa Passiment, EdM, MT(ASCP), about the general history of the medical laboratory science profession, the role of ASCLS in making positive change, and why medical laboratory professionals are so important to quality patient care.

Episode Resources

History of ASCLS PowerPoint by Elissa Passiment

ASCLS History

History of the Medical Laboratory Science Profession

In this Part 2 of First Lab Job Interviews, Sophia Chandrasekar, Galina Dronova, and Justin Hanenberg give tips and tricks on what to do during and after the interview, with story time—including an actual job interview answer that involves telling a man to take lingerie out of his pants!

Disclaimer: Based off of some feedback from First Lab Job Interviews Part 1, while the hosts may have used the terms, tech, lab tech, and med tech, what we meant to say was medical laboratory scientist. Moving forward, we will do our best to use more appropriate language to give recognition to our profession.

In this first of two podcasts, Galina, Justin, and Sophia talk about their first laboratory job interviews. The three hosts discuss some basic interview prep and tips, the need for perseverance through the first several interviews, the importance of trying to find a place that is a good fit for you, and how it all goes back to, “What do you want in your job?”

In this episode Kyle McCafferty, a medical laboratory scientist in Detroit, Michigan, speaks with Dr. Rodney E. Rohde, chair of the Texas State University Clinical Laboratory Science Program and Specialist in Virology, Microbiology and Molecular Biology, about COVID-19, specifically monoclonal antibodies, vaccines, and the medical laboratory profession.

This episode is available for one hour of P.A.C.E.® credit. Visit Off the Bench Podcast: COVID19 Pandemic: Monoclonal Antibodies, Vaccines, and the Medical Laboratory Profession to participate in the self-study through and earn your credit. Free for ASCLS members ($10 for non-members).

For more instructions, read How to Obtain Podcast CE Credit.

In this episode, Galina Dronova talks with Dr. John McClure, a pathologist in Minneapolis, Minnesota, about Acute Myeloid Leukemia (AML), the lab testing necessary to identify AML, and where a medical technologist fits in the process.

This episode is available for one hour of P.A.C.E.® credit. Visit Off the Bench Podcast: Acute Myeloid Leukemia Workup, Management, and Prognosis with Dr. John McClure to participate in the self-study through and earn your credit. Free for ASCLS members ($10 for non-members).

For more instructions, read How to Obtain Podcast CE Credit.

This special minisode of Off the Bench features hosts Sophia Chandrasekar, Galina Dronova, and Justin Hanenberg with ASCLS President Maddie Josephs. They discuss the past “crazy, awesome week for ASCLS” that included three new events: PRISM: Pride · Respect · Inclusion · Support · Momentum; the Emerging Laboratory Managers Collaborative Conference (ELMC2); and a Mid-Year House of Delegates Meeting.

One major driving force to viral spillover from wildlife to humans is human behavior. Join ASCLS Leadership Academy graduate Jasmine Pante, MT(ASCP), of Monterey County, California, and Dr. Tracey Goldstein, PhD, of One Health Institute Laboratory at University of California-Davis, as they discuss emerging zoonotic diseases on a global scale and the One Health approach to prevent future outbreaks.

This episode is available for one hour of P.A.C.E.® credit. Visit Off the Bench Podcast: Understanding Emerging Zoonotic Diseases on a Global Scale with Dr. Tracey Goldstein to participate in the self-study through and earn your credit. Free for ASCLS members ($10 for non-members).

For more instructions, read How to Obtain Podcast CE Credit.

This episode focuses on the laboratory’s role in addressing gaps in healthcare quality for transgender patients. Romi Selzer, of Henry Ford Hospital Blood Bank in Detroit, interviews Dr. Gabrielle Winston-McPherson, associate director of chemistry, who oversees the core automation laboratory at Henry Ford Hospital.

Legislative awareness is important for laboratory professionals because what happens in legislation can affect our daily lives. Join ASCLS Leadership Academy graduates Billie Ketelsen, MLS(ASCP)CMMB(ASCP)CM, and Stephanie Noblit, JD, MLS(ASCP)CM, as they discuss two legislative efforts currently impacting laboratories, PAMA and the Laboratory Workforce Shortage.

This episode is available for one hour of P.A.C.E.® credit. Visit Off the Bench Podcast: Legislation Insights for the Laboratory with Stephanie Noblit to participate in the self-study through and earn your credit. Free for ASCLS members ($10 for non-members).

For more instructions, read How to Obtain Podcast CE Credit.

Episode Resources

View clips from the TV episodes discussed in this episode.

Carla’s urine saga

Gray’s Anatomy bad blood scene

General Hospital “Lab explosion”

Episode Resources

View the images and comments discussed in this episode.

The Quick and Dirty on Sam and Lindsey

Podcast 3: Who are your hosts Samantha Treutel and Lindsey Davenport-Landry? Listen in to learn more about them.

Listen to Podcast 3

2018 Lab Week Run

Podcast 2: Hosts Samantha Treutel and Lindsey Davenport-Landry interview Ally Storla about the 2018 Lab Week Run.

Listen to Podcast 2

Why Choose the Laboratory Profession?

Podcast 1: Hosts Samantha Treutel and Lindsey Davenport-Landry discuss why they chose the laboratory profession.

Listen to Podcast 1