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Michael and Elizabeth Clemmons
March 10, 2021

Two Science Alums Met at Berry ... Now They’re in the Fight against COVID-19

When Michael Clemmons ’06 and Elizabeth Callahan Clemmons ’08 were students at Berry, they had no idea that they would one day be involved in researching or combating a virus that caused a global pandemic.

Michael Clemmons, a biochemistry major, works as a proposal developer at Q2 Solutions, a clinical trial laboratory services company, developing plans and budgets for clinical trials. Some of their recent trials have focused on COVID-19 while others have required finding creative solutions to problems that the pandemic has created. “It’s been a difficult climate for clinical trials because of the pandemic,” he says. “We’re seeing a lot of new and interesting ways that we’re trying to get patients to sites, or having phlebotomists go to patients’ houses to draw blood or take samples.”

Elizabeth Callahan Clemmons, an animal science major, is a laboratory animal veterinarian. She cares for primates involved in preclinical trials at the Southwest National Primate Research Center at Texas Biomedical Research Institute. She says her facility has been busy with COVID-19 research, testing vaccines and treatments. “We were one of the locations that first developed the macaque model of COVID,” she says. “We gave them coronavirus and then watched them carefully and saw what happened. After that, we’re able to try vaccines and treatments to see if that changes the course of the disease.”

The couple says the foundational education from Berry got them to where they are today. “It’s really thanks to Berry that we’re able to have these positions and these jobs,” Michael Clemmons says.

They credit hands-on learning experiences and faculty mentors with preparing them for the career steps they took after graduation. “The entire animal science program, all the professors were really good,” Elizabeth Callahan Clemmons says. She was able to work with the beef cattle while she was a student. “It was a great preparation for vet school,” she adds.

Michael Clemmons worked in the biology lab, where he gained relevant experience to boost his post-grad resume. “It really gave me a foundation to put on my resume when I finally got out of college and started applying for jobs,” he says. “I really had what they were looking for, and that was because of Berry.”

When they weren’t in the lab or the beef unit at Berry, the couple took advantage of other opportunities provided by Berry’s liberal arts curriculum. “We’re both science majors, but we met in band,” Elizabeth Callahan Clemmons laughs. “That’s how our relationship started.”

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