Anji Trujillo

Senior Scientist, Analytical R&D, Pfizer

hailing from

Santa Barbara, CA


Santa Barbara Community College and Humboldt State, a Cal State school in northern California.

Ph.D. Studies


Title of Ph.D. Dissertation

Research Experience and Philosophy

My scientific background is somewhat unorthodox and disciplinarily very diverse— ranging from marine biology to bird migration and conservation, to analytical chemistry, which ultimately brought me to UW-Madison. In the Coon lab, I focused on understanding the role the microbiota plays within mammalian metabolism, but applying mass spectrometry to a diversity of collaborations, remained really important to me. My cohort brought together people who inspired each other, to gain knowledge across different skills (instrumentation, data analysis and coding, communication, for example)—in training as well-rounded mass spectrometrists. In particular, I was interested in gaining more experience in those areas  that I felt the most weak in; in the process found a passion in coding software development. In addition, I started to enjoy the creative aspects of communication—to take a message that is very complex that a few people can understand and broadening it to show why people can care—and I pursued and obtained  a minor in scientific communication. When the younger students see the outcome of being able to have such diverse skill sets, it really defines the baseline of what mass spectrometry data contains, how it should be accessed, and how it should be shared.

“When I think about what my role is as a scientist, I always go back to what is my role as a scientist in society”

How did your grad research experience lead you to industry?

In my experience, the Coon lab was unique in its creativity with the types of questions that interest me and that can be used to leverage technologies to see how projects could either elevate a method or a new method could elevate a project, for example, obtaining more information than just the basic protocol could. Because I like thinking outside of the box, it has pushed me to create my own tools and my own pipelines to analyze the data. Having the capacity to write my own code, for example, takes my research to the next level and allows me to further design and curate my research experiences without being limited to the current tools available. I have been extremely fortunate to collaborate on projects that were really diverse—everything from human health to industrial applications. Being able to understand how MS could be applied to different fields, and for long-term studies versus quicker applications, is a huge strength.

What drew me to industry, specifically from an analytical chemist perspective, was that I knew that I could position myself to be part of projects whose application would be human health related. I like to ponder and ask myself, “What am I doing, how does this impact this world?” and choose to be part of projects that ultimately make a difference.When I think about what my role is as a scientist, I always go back to what is my role as a scientist in society: how can I use that role as a female, as a Latina, as a scientist to bridge important issues in society with what I can do in  the lab. I am really interested in science policy; it’s become a bigger umbrella of areas I’ve recently been interested in that I’ve continued to hone in on and try to exercise creativity and my voice.

Earn your Ph.D. with us

The Coon Group is always on the lookout for new members.  Professor Coon accepts students from several UW-Madison doctoral programs including Chemistry, the Integrated Program in Biochemistry (IPiB), and Cellular & Molecular Pathology.