Clinical laboratory science lifetime achievement award
August 23, 2017
Mary Ann McLane receives clinical laboratory science lifetime achievement award
The University of Delaware’s Mary Ann McLane was awarded the 2017 Lifetime Achievement Award from the American Society for Clinical Laboratory Science (ASCLS). The Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences professor, who will retire at the conclusion of the fall semester, received the honor at the organization’s national conference in San Diego.
“You don’t do this stuff for the personal kudos,” said McLane. “Anything that positively happens to me is a reflection of this department, the University of Delaware and my profession.”
Throughout her career and especially since 2002, McLane has been an outspoken advocate for lab professionals to go beyond the lab setting. In a profession where the great majority of the work is done behind the scenes, she’s encouraged professionals to tell their stories to the general public.
“When most people think of healthcare, they probably think of doctors and nurses — maybe physical therapists or pharmacists. They don’t think of medical laboratory scientists. We need to change that narrative.”
McLane has long encouraged her peers to invite the outside world into the lab as well as showcasing the profession’s critical work in public settings.
“I’m most excited about this award because it gives me one more chance to share the importance of laboratory professionals in the health sciences and to encourage students to pursue the profession.”
Reflecting on her career, McLane is supremely satisfied with her career choice.
“This career is a great blend of loving science, laboratory work and the connection to patient care. You play a huge role in the diagnosis and treatment of patients,” explained McLane. “It’s opened up so many doors for me. All of my clinical lab skills easily translated to my becoming a researcher. I’ve presented my melanoma research all over the world in places like Australia, Jerusalem and Paris.”
A Delaware native, McLane majored in medical technology at Neumann University before obtaining a master’s and Ph.D. at Temple University. She became heavily involved with the Pennsylvania and Delaware chapters of ASCLS; she was elected to the national board of directors and later became the president of the organization.
At the time, she was working in a professional laboratory setting, but knew she wanted to teach. When the University of Delaware gave her an offer that other schools did not — start-up research funds, a lab and professional lab support — she seized the opportunity.
“I’ve been back in Delaware ever since!”
Teaching is an absolute passion. McLane still keeps all of her students’ undergraduate research theses close by in her Willard Lab office — sources of inspiration for future lab scientists. Her students have graduated UD to pursue Ph.D. research, medical school and professional laboratory science careers. McLane points to the course work’s interdisciplinary nature in making graduates extraordinarily marketable.
“Its four major disciplines: clinical microbiology, clinical hematology, blood banking and clinical chemistry. This makes students extremely marketable. Especially now, with the huge numbers of baby boomers like myself who are retiring, we have a need of talented professionals.”
In her final semester, McLane will teach Language of Medicine, Senior Clinical Chemistry and a graduate research seminar.
McLane was not the only Blue Hen honored at the ceremony. Class of 2015 alumna Alexa Pierce-Matlack was named a “Voice Under 40.” The Medical Laboratory Sciences graduate, who had McLane as a professor, is an ASCLS board member for the state of Delaware. She is currently the organization’s membership chair. In addition to many other projects, Pierce-Matlack is also developing Girl Scout badges for the laboratory profession to teach girls about the importance of lab work at a young age.
She is extremely grateful to have studied under McLane, who she calls a true inspiration.
“I can't put into words how thankful and appreciative I am to be one of her students. It is truly going to be a great loss when she retires,” said a fervent Pierce-Matlack. “She goes above and beyond to make sure all of her students understand the material. She gives up her nights and weekends to have extra review sessions or meeting one-on-one to cover difficult topics.”
A contingent of Blue Hens was also at the ASCLS national meeting with McLane and Pierce-Matlack, including Shelby Guhl (’14), Dana Marshall Ohnmeiss (’11), Sarah Beabout Thomas (’10), Matt Nicholaou (‘02), Brian Gitlitz (’13) and Dara Missan (’06).
About the department
The Department of Medical Laboratory Sciences offers majors in medical laboratory science, medical diagnostics, medical diagnostics with a pre-physician assistant concentration and a brand new major in applied molecular biology and biotechnology. Minors are available in medical diagnostics, forensic science, molecular diagnostics and a certificate is offered in molecular diagnostics. The department also offers a master’s degree in medical sciences and an interdisciplinary Ph.D. program in medical sciences.