She looks the part: beautiful full lips, slender silhouette, waist-long shiny hair. She easily fits the definition of a beauty queen or a designer label model. Maybe that’s why people are always caught by surprise when they find out what she does for a living.
She was born and raised in a Siberian region of Russian, a place that pretty much matches the stereotypes about Russian scenery – freezing cold winters with temperatures reaching well below 32 degrees Fahrenheit, cities surrounded by ancient forests inhabited with wolves and bears.
Her family immigrated to the US and settled in Sacramento, California when Marianna was in her early teens. Despite the fact that her mother was a mathematician, the girl didn’t care much for math or science in school. Being a free-spirited and artistic individual, Marianna was preoccupied with dance and art-her true passions. Although she was an artist at heart, Marianna maintained a high GPA in high school and graduated from the International Baccalaureate Programme with honors. She decided she wanted to become a pharmacist because she was comfortable with her academic abilities and wanted to get a degree that would allow her to be self-sufficient and financially stable as soon as she graduated.
When Marianna was graduating High School, she began taking steps towards achieving her goal. She became certified as a pharmacy technician and began her part-time job at a pharmacy while going through the pre-pharmacy program at American River College. In 2008 she moved to San Francisco-the city she fell in love with upon her first visit. She continued her education and career there.
Marianna completed her pre-pharmacy requirements and even applied to pharmacy schools. At that time she realized that being a pharmacist was not her calling. Luckily during her studies she felt a newly discovered passion for science, and she found that science can be very creative and, most importantly, meaningful. This is when she began looking for work in the biotech industry. During her search she discovered an open position for a Lab Technician at Sutro Biopharma, a startup biotech company. Shortly thereafter she also began attending San Francisco State University, full time, majoring in biochemistry and working 30 hours a week at Sutro. Life was not easy for those two years, but this is when the values Marianna grew up with played a major role.
Marianna and her brother were raised by a single mother, Natalia Pristupa, a beautiful woman with advanced education and a firm character. Natalia raised her two children in Russia in the 90’s - a difficult decade in Russian history. She ran a successful business and was a prominent figure in her city’s fashion industry. Upon arrival to the US she evaluated her degree and became a math professor at the American River College. She also obtained an RN degree and developed a successful career in the medical industry while bringing up her two teenage children.. Inspired by her mother’s example, Marianna learned to appreciate education and self-sufficiency.
Biology and chemistry intimidate most people, but in Marianna’s opinion the most complex part of science are names that scientists use to describe their processes. If science is broken down into small manageable parts, it is very accessible and fascinating. Her favorite subjects were biochemistry and immunology because the two explained the intricacies and the perfect design of a human organism.
Marianna was hired by Sutro as a Research Associate as soon as she received her degree. She spent a total of 5 years working at this company and gained a lot of experience in process development for large molecules, also known as Biologics.
Since then Marianna has moved on from the lab and has begun working in the tech industry for a UK company called IDBS. Now, as a business consultant there she works with top biotech companies such as Pfizer, Bayer, Novartis and others to help them optimize their processes and ensure successful integration of IDBS software. She is happy and grateful to use her academic, professional and life experience in her current position which she feels makes client’s professional lives easier and more enjoyable.