Biocom Institute’s Veterans Initiative provides veterans access to a variety of life science industry professionals and executives. Complete with job skills workshops, an industry-focused career fair and mentorship pairing, this program provides a holistic approach to addressing skills gaps, hiring and job-search challenges, and a unique direct connection between veterans and the life science industry.

For more information, or to get involved with our Veterans initiative, contact us.

Veterans Committee

Our member-driven Veterans Initiative Committee is comprised of veterans currently working in life science. The committee discusses the needs of current veterans transitioning to or working in a career in life science, as well as the best strategies they can implement to succeed. By sharing experiences and discussing solutions, the Veterans Initiative Committee helps Biocom Institute’s veterans programs be relevant, helpful, and successful.


Veterans Symposium

Our symposium regularly includes an industry overview, company spotlights, career panels, and information on applicable education programs, all specific to veterans. This half-day event is ideal for veterans who want to take the first step and explore if life science is the right industry for them, as well as veterans already dedicated to life science and hoping to expand their network and knowledge base.

A few roles where veterans tend to thrive in the life science industry: 



Project Management

Project Management

Information Technology

Information Technology

Business Development

Business Development

For a list of other Life Science Careers visit our career portal. 

Military Fellowship

The Biocom Institute’s Military Fellowship Program provides meaningful career readiness experiences to local veterans interested in obtaining gainful employment in the life science. Veteran participants are matched with mentors in the life science sector, who support the veterans through a year-long program by providing industry-specific knowledge and exposure to a variety of facets of the industry, making meaningful introductions, and assisting in goal setting and achievement.

Participation in this program does not guarantee job placement or a job offer from a mentor. All military branches are welcome to apply. Participation is limited to veterans living in San Diego County.

Please note that while the mentors are here to guide and assist participants, the participants are expected to take initiative and make the most of these opportunities, networking events, resources, etc.

2020 Military Fellowship Mentors & Fellows


Sunny Al-Shamma

Sunny Al-Shamma

Beacon Discovery Inc.
President & CEO

Sunny is the president and CEO of Beacon Discovery, a small biotech company founded in 2016 by an experienced drug discovery team exploiting modern advances in the science of G-Protein Coupled Receptors (GPCRs).

Prior to Beacon, Sunny was VP of Discovery Biology at Arena Pharmaceuticals, where he focused on the discovery of small molecule GPCR ligands for the treatment of Metabolic, CNS, Inflammatory and Cardiovascular diseases. Prior to Arena, Sunny was Director of Biology at Maxia Pharmaceuticals. Sunny completed his undergraduate degree in Biology, and holds a doctoral degree in Neuroscience and Behavior. Sunny is a strong advocate for diversity and inclusion in all aspects of society and believes they are essential in the workplace. Beacon Discovery is an active member of the San Diego biotech community and is a proud member of Biocom, the San Diego Entrepreneurial Exchange (SDEE) and the San DiegoChapter of the Healthcare Businesswomen’s Association (HBA).

Simone Bigi

Simon Bigi

Takeda Pharmaceuticals
Senior Research Associate II

Simone Bigi is a medicinal chemist working in the Gastroenterology Drug Discovery Unit at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. She has over 7 years of drug design experience across therapeutic areas that focus on leveraging…

…crystallographic information to drive design hypotheses using Structure-Based Drug Design (SBDD). Prior to Takeda, she worked at Scripps Institution of Oceanography
performing isolation chemistry and natural product total synthesis. She holds a B.S. in
Biochemistry from the University of Notre Dame and is currently finishing her M.A.S. in
Clinical Research with a concentration in Translational Medicine from the University of California, San Diego. She is the former Chair of Takeda’s employee resource group (ERG) for
gender parity, the Women’s Inclusion Network (WIN).

Tamara Fox

Tamara Fox

Vertex Pharmaceuticals
Associate Director EHSS

Tamara is an EHS professional with over 25 years of industry experience providing leadership and technical expertise in the biotech-pharma industry, academic settings and in the DOD sector.

As a member of the Facilities-Operations group, she leads the EHSS team in supporting
approximately 275 employees conducting scientific research & development. She is a member of Vertex’s BRAVE Employee Resource Network, supporting military veterans and first responders. She enlisted in the U.S. Army upon graduation from high school and served for a total of seven years as a Medic and as a Nuclear, Biological, and Chemical Warfare Specialist. She completed tours of Duty in Germany, Korea and in the U.S. Her military skills, knowledge and expertise as an NBC Warfare Specialist, provided her with a solid foundation to transition into the EHSS field in the private sector where she has been able to continuously grow in her career.

Martin Holguin

Martin Holguin

Illumina, Inc.
Project Manager

Martin Holguin is a Senior Project Manager for Illumina, supporting world-class Biotechnology Scientists and Engineers. He manages the new product introduction transfer process, from research…

…and development to manufacturing. His efforts help bring new DNA Library
preparation kits for the Sequencing market and DNA micro-array products in the
pharmacogenomic market. Before working at Illumina, Martin was a career Naval Surface Warfare Officer, where he provided technical and operational leadership aboard six U.S. Navy Warships and three Flag Officer Staffs. Martin earned a B.S. and M.S. in Electrical Engineering from the University of Texas at El Paso and The Naval Postgraduate School, respectively, and an MBA from the University of Notre Dame. During his military to civilian transition, he certified as an Electrical Engineer in Training through the California Board of Professional Engineers and also certified as a Project Management Professional through the Project Management Institute.

Jennifer Quigley

Jennifer Quigley

Custopharm, Inc.
Human Resources Business Partner

For Jennifer, key aspects of human resources (HR) include providing guidance, collaboration and solutions for individuals at all levels of an organization. She finds excitement in the continual learning…

…and the ever changing policies and best practices that encompass the HR world. The
work of HR professionals has the potential to impact team members at a personal level, while impacting an organization as a whole. Jennifer obtained her Bachelor of Science in Psychology at California State University, San Marcos and her Master of Science in Industrial/Organizational Psychology at California State University, Long Beach. She also holds a Certified Professional credential and a California Law HR Specialty credential from the Society for Human Resource Management (SHRM).

Chris Ross

Chris Ross, MBA

Thermo Fisher Scientific
Industry Manager Biotechnology

Chris has a Bachelor’s of Science in Chemistry from The University of Virginia, College at Wise and an M.B.A. from Western Governors University. Chris has held various sales positions in the Life Science industry…

…since 1999, and has extensive experience in Sales and Chromatography. Chris worked as an Analytical Chemist for three years before becoming a sales professional. Chris has held positions with six different companies in the life sciences industry, and the majority of his time has been with Thermo Fisher Scientific. Chris is the son of a 20-year enlisted Navy father and he grew up being a part of the military culture and discipline.

Steve Beck

Steven Beck

Neurocrine Biosciences Manager,
Human Resources

Steve Beck is the HR Manager at Neurocrine Biosciences, Inc. He holds his undergraduate
degree in psychology from Georgia State University. Steve currently supports Human Resources Operations…

…partnering closely with Talent Acquisition, Operations, and HR Business Partners to
execute HR Strategy. Previously Steve has partnered with business leaders to support talent acquisition in research & development and other medical, clinical and regulatory areas. Steve has over 21 years of Human Resources experience, and 18 years of experience supporting Pharmaceutical and Biotechnology companies globally. When not working, Steve has completed one Ironman, four half-ironmans and a handful of marathons and half marathons.

Tony Duynstee

Alexandria Real Estate Equities, Inc. Vice President Strategic Operations

Tony Duynstee serves as Vice President of Strategic Operations at Alexandria Real Estate
Equities, a national real estate investment trust that owns, operates, and develops real estate for the life science industry.

He also volunteers as a board director for the Navy SEAL Foundation, a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization that provides immediate and ongoing support and assistance to the US Navy SEAL community and their families. Tony served 8 years as an officer in the U.S. Navy SEAL teams after graduating from the US Naval Academy. He later received his MBA
with a Certificate in Real Estate from the Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley.

Rory Hayles

Mapp Biopharmaceutical, Inc.
IT Support Specialist

Rory Hayles has over 25 years of experience in the IT Field, from sales to system administration to management. He has worked for companies such as Sony, DC Shoes, The UFC, Harvest Meat…

…and now works for Mapp Biopharmaceutical. In this ever changing field he never relies on old technology and has a true thirst for knowledge and keeping up with new technologies He is A+ Certified (HW/SW) and Apple ACMT Certified. He also takes pleasure in coaching youth flag football and basketball. Rory is originally from the Bronx, New York. He served 5 years in the military. He completed three Westpac’s in Somalia and Panama.

Mike Jones

Mike Jones

Millennium Health
Director, IT Infrastructure

Marine Corps Veteran Mike Jones Served 6 years with HMH-465 Warhorse, in the Third Marine Air Wing. His experiences as a young Corporal in the Marine Corps did what no other job could do to prepare him for his future.

Mike was immersed in opportunities to learn the value of hard work and training. He learned quickly how to lean into adversity. Most importantly, he learned the value of leadership and teamwork in overcoming any obstacle. Mike’s Marine Corps training set the foundation of his development as a leader and planted the seed of confidence in his ability to work through any challenge – personal or professional. Today, nearly 30 years down the road, Mike leads the IT Operations team for Millennium Health, a San Diego-based life science company. There’s not a week that goes by for him without reaching into those learnings and experiences he gained as a United States Marine.

Vail Raymer

Vail Raymer

Senior Business Development Specialist

Vail Raymer is a retired Marine Corps Officer who served for 24 years. He began his career in
1995 as an enlisted Marine at the age of 17. He earned a Bachelor’s degree in Program Management from Illinois State University and…

…was commissioned as a 2nd Lieutenant in 2003. He has had multiple combat deployments and has experiences from across the globe. Upon retirement, Vail successfully transitioned into a career as a Senior Business Development Specialist with Biocom’s preferred IT Managed Services Provider, CentrexIT.

Matthew Sciaroni

Matthew Sciaroni

SBP Medical Discovery Institute
Help Desk Lead

Matt is currently the Helpdesk Lead at Sanford Burnham Prebys Medical Discovery Institute. He began his career with SBP in 2014, shortly after discharging from the Marine Corps.

Over the course of the last 6 years he has had the opportunity to gain additional knowledge to further his technical skills such as scripting, various IT technologies, while growing as a professional within his department. Leading the helpdesk in supporting over 600 users and 1000 devices has made him a better communicator, motivator, and stronger leader. He takes pride in supporting his colleagues and the research that is done at Sanford Burnham Prebys. He has had the pleasure of
interacting with individuals that are directly impacted by work done at SBP, and it is a humbling experience.

Illanya Thompson

Illanya Thompson

Research Intern

Illanya Thompson is a research intern through the California Institute of Regenerative Medicine through Cal State San Marcos. Prior to earning her bachelor’s degree, she was a helicopter airframes and hydraulics mechanic…

on yankee and zulu helicopters in the United States Marine Corps. She received her Bachelors of Science in Biomanufacturing through MiraCosta College.
She joined the Frazer Lab in August 2019 to assist and learn at the Institute of Genomic Medicine.


Cristal Caler


Randal Robert Cochran

U.S. Navy E-3

Jesse Cox

U.S. Navy

Tim Davis

U.S. Navy

Lamont C. Hardy

U.S. Navy E-6

John D. Harris

U.S. Navy

Jeremy Joseph

U.S. Navy, Lieutenant (O-3)

Dane Maglinao


Colette Moon

U.S. Navy E-7

William Harold Nesbitt

U.S. Navy, Commander O-5

Schafer Newman

U.S. Navy, Lieutenant O3

Steven Padilla

U.S. Army E-4

Karolyn Smith

U.S. Army Sergeant E-5

John Valle

U.S. Navy Commander

“My impression of the Biocom Institute’s Veteran Mentoring Program is that it’s military people helping military people. It’s former soldiers, sailors and airmen who are already in the industry. And they’re taking the time to give back to those who are transitioning and those who have retired to help us find our way through this daunting and difficult process of transitioning from military to civilian life.”

Linwood Harrison

Intelligence Analyst, United States Army