Kelly Harkins

Chief Executive Officer

(Note: Responses have been lightly edited for clarity and style)

What degree(s) do you have and in what discipline(s)?

I hold a BA in Music and Anthropology, and an MA and PhD in Bioarchaeology. I focused on archaeology as an undergrad. In graduate school, I focused on molecular bioarchaeology/paleogenetics.

What is your current salary or salary range? $120,000

What can someone with a BA/MA/PhD expect to earn in this job?

  • BA/BS (e.g. lab technician, research assistant) $45,000-$65,000
  • MA/MS (upper range for computational/data analyst) $65,000-$100,000
  • PhD (depending on # years post-grad, field, and specific experience) $80,000-$200,000

What type of benefits are typically provided in your job field?

Benefits depend on company size–very early stage startups may not be able to offer benefits at first–but generally in the field you can expect medical/vision/dental, PTO, long-term/short-term disability, and a 401k.

What does a typical workday look like for you?

I was the only employee of the company at first. As the companies matured, I transitioned away from the lab bench. Now a typical day (or week) usually touches upon all aspects of the companies’ goals – in rapid fire. I respond to about 10-20 emails a day and attend between 2-6 meetings a day. I work on general and administrative tasks, lead or participate in commercial activity (sales/marketing/business development), check in with production/manufacturing, run the research and development meetings (e.g., the nitty-gritty science part), draft or review grant proposals and collateral, communicate with clinical collaborators or law-enforcement clients, report to the board of directors and scientific advisory board, manage hiring, and help draft patent applications. In a nutshell, I manage people and projects and keeping multiple plates spinning.

What do you like the most about your job?

I like the applied nature of the work. In forensics, it is being able to see how our technology directly helps to solve cold cases and bring closure to families. In the clinical application, it is knowing that we are striving to build a tool that will positively impact patient lives.

What do you like the least about your job?

In this role, I work just as much for our employees as I do for the company owners/investors. It’s a tough balance to strike as a decision-maker and comes with a lot of stress and responsibility. I also have a hard time being the disciplinarian.

How has your anthropology degree(s) influenced your present career?

My anthropology training was extremely broad and required independence as a researcher and critical thinker. Science communication was also considered essential and remains an important aspect of my career. I feel that my degrees in anthropology taught me how to see things from multiple perspectives, as well as how to be comfortable constantly at the edge of my own comfort zone with regards to skill and knowledge.