BVU Graduate Works to Research COVID-19

Andrew Puttmann '01 serves Battelle, a research institution, on the laboratory front lines against coronavirus. He writes protocols and reports as well as hands-on lab activities determined by current studies and their needs.

Andrew Puttmann, a 2001 Buena Vista University graduate, occupies a spot on the front lines in fighting for our safety amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

Puttmann, a researcher at Battelle in Columbus, Ohio, writes protocols and reports as well as hands-on lab activities determined by current studies and their needs.

“My recent work with SARS-CoV-2 has involved working with the live virus to characterize the growth characteristics and identify novel intervention strategies to combat the virus,” he says. “I have also been working to develop tools necessary to identify and characterize effective vaccines and therapeutics against the virus.”

The importance of the work at Battelle is immense.

“We have several teams of scientists working on different aspects of the pandemic from Battelle staff at the Centers for Disease Control  working collaboratively with the FDA to develop methods to diagnose the virus, to researchers working on verifying the effectiveness of decontamination methods,” Puttmann says. “Each team has their role, but we are all working toward the same goal of stopping the current pandemic and gaining knowledge to aid us in future events.”

“It has all been very surreal. I never thought I would see a pandemic like this in my lifetime, and I certainly never imagined that I would be part of a team working to combat it.”

Andrew Puttman

Puttmann, a native of Washta, studied biology as an undergraduate at BVU. He says Dr. Gerald Poff, Professor of Biology, who in 1987 was the first recipient of the George Wythe Award, BVU’s highest honor for excellence in teaching, played a role in his career development.

“At the start of my senior year Dr. Poff asked what I wanted to do when I graduated,” Puttmann remembers. “I told him I had no idea. Beginning that day, Dr. Poff asked me every day he saw me what I wanted to do when I graduated. I thought about it a lot, but still did not know what I felt passionate about doing. It wasn’t until I took his physiology class (and associated lab) that I realized how much I enjoyed working in a lab.

“It was very satisfying for me to finally be able to have an answer for him just a couple weeks into the second semester of my senior year,” says Puttmann, who, over the last 19 years, has built a successful career as a laboratory technician based on the foundation of science he attained at BVU.

Puttmann notes that people should follow the advice of public health officials while consulting information from the CDC and the World Health Organization.

“The sacrifices everyone has to make at this time may seem drastic, but it is what needs to be done to control this pandemic,” says Puttmann, who resides in Dublin, Ohio, with his wife, Pauline, and their son, Liam, says that his place within the battle for discovery is both daunting and humbling. He remains grateful to be surrounded by so many dedicated professionals.

“It has all been very surreal. I never thought I would see a pandemic like this in my lifetime, and I certainly never imagined that I would be part of a team working to combat it,” he says. “It is rewarding knowing that the work we are doing could directly impact people all over the world.”

Finally, Puttmann shares a word with those who made a profound difference in his life: his educators.

“Teachers, please stay engaged with your students and push them even if it doesn't seem like they need or want it,” he concludes. “I didn't realize I needed the push that I did from Dr. Poff, but without it, I would not be where I am today.”

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