Interview with Marina Yarbrough

Interview with Marina Yarbrough

Marina is our Director of Sales and one of our newest additions to the team!

Where did you grow up? Where did you go to school?     

I’m always very proud to tell people that I was born in San Francisco, CA! I grew up in Marin County just north of “the city”. My parents were immigrants from Holland and Germany. They had a deep love of sailing and the ocean. We lived in a converted potato barge on a private beach on Paradise Drive in Tiburon. That’s where my name came from. Marina means “of the sea” and it has Marin in it.

I went to Sir Francis Drake High School in San Anselmo, CA, which has recently been renamed after the Olympic athlete Archie Williams. I’m proud of my community for being socially progressive. After I graduated high school in 1991, I went to San Francisco State University. It was an amazing time to be in San Francisco. I participated in the Rodney King protests against racial injustice on May 1, 1992. I was a member of the SFSU Track and Field team. Mid-way through my undergraduate studies, I transferred to UC Davis to study Animal Science and pursue my dream of becoming a veterinarian. It was at UC Davis when I got involved in preclinical research working for the Department of Anesthesia.


What sparked your interest in Science?

Life is science. I was fortunate to grow up in an area where I was surrounded by nature and to have parents that fostered my love and fascination for the environment and all the living things within it. I grew up watching PBS, Wild Kingdom and David Attenborough. I had wonderful teachers like Mrs. Terwilliger and went on incredible field trips through the local community college’s College for Kids program. Understanding biological systems has been a lifelong passion of mine.


Did you have any specific role models? If so, who were they?

I had wonderful parents and I knew we were unique from a young age. They raised me with tremendous value placed on how fortunate we are. My parents came here with nothing, worked hard and found success. They were very much my role models growing up. I also was fortunate to have many elders in my community that mentored me and took time to enrich my life. I began participating in English horse riding competitions at a very young age and my trainer Renee Van Midde Ranshausen was a huge influence of mine from 7 to 18 years old. I learned to physically work hard and the value of having a process from her. The other significant mentor I had was my high school Track coach Bill Taylor. He was more than an athletic coach, he taught us Arete. Arete is a concept in ancient Greek thought that, in its most basic sense, refers to “excellence” of any kind. I traveled to Europe on a study/athletic adventure with Arete West where we participated in track and field invitationals in Switzerland, Italy, Austria, Hungary, what was Yugoslavia, Turkey and Greece. Mr. Taylor weaved philosophy into every meet, every practice and every day. We read Homer’s Iliad and went to Troy; we studied Nietzsche and read his quotes while standing in the alps of Sils-Maria; we even went to Vienna to see Freud’s psychoanalytic couch! Mr. Taylor taught me to strive for excellence in all that I do and practice moral virtue. He taught me to think. He taught me to write. He taught me how to train my mind and body.


What would you say to a young person considering a career in science or specifically oncology? 

Science is the basis of everything. The scientific method is a way of thinking that serves you throughout life. If you master the skills required to make and observation and form a question, learn to research the topic area, form a hypothesis, test it with an experiment, analyze the data and draw conclusions you become scientific in all your thinking. It will help you to make informed decisions and guide you towards a fulfilling career in any industry.


What is important to you personally? I.e.what things do you value most in life? 

What’s important to me personally has evolved as I have matured. I have always valued making connections with people, animals and with my surroundings. Being observant, open and sharing has been immensely rewarding in my life. I try to acknowledge people for taking time to connect with me and am generous with others that seek that same connection.


What are some of the challenges you have faced either in your career or personally that you feel have helped you become the successful person you are?  

Knowing my worth. You must find the courage to leave the table if respect is no longer being served. Very early in my career, I went above my manager’s head to complain about being mistreated. I was given some of the best advice ever and it has always stuck with me. I expected this person to sympathize with me, but instead he said “Marina, if you’re not happy here, leave!”. It was then that I realized I made the choice to be there every day. It is up to me to control my experience. It changed my attitude completely and I have lived by it ever since. Also, participating in sports and learning to fail. My favorite quote:

“It is not the critic who counts: not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly, who errs and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

—Theodore Roosevelt
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910


What excites you about Studylog? 

I was born a hustler! So watch out! Ha ha! It really comes from a strong desire to serve people. When you can make someone happy by providing them with a solution that they really need, or better yet, one they didn’t even know they needed, there is no sweeter reward than to feel their appreciation and know you made a difference for them.


What do you enjoy about being part of the Studylog team so far?

The people and the science of course! It feels like I was meant to be here and that’s an awesome way to start a new job. The product is first to market and on the cutting edge of drug development and disease research. The future is bright and the opportunity is tremendous!


What do you do for fun outside of the lab? 

I try to find the fun in everything I do, but my favorite pastimes include competitive horse showjumping, SCUBA, taking my kids on nature adventures, live music and festivals, fine dining and drinking wine with my friends! Cheers!




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