Defeating COVID-19 through testing and public information
Alumna creates graphic designs for diagnostic lab
Interview by Kenna Caprio
April 30, 2020 — Alumna Judith Williams, BA’11 (Metro), works as a graphic designer at BioReference, a laboratory specializing in clinical diagnostic services. Since the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the company has been in full force, with an emphasis on increasing testing capacity, decreasing testing turnaround time, and providing non-traditional testing access and options. Williams and the graphics department are designing digital, web and social media content with the latest information to keep the public informed.
FDU: What drew you to website and graphic design initially?
Judith Williams: As a child, I loved to sketch and draw. During my teen years, computers and technology fascinated me, especially when I realized I could use them to leverage my artistic ability. My favorite aspects: user experience (UX), video game design, package design, animation and video production.
I’m also interested in the technical side, doing wireframing and structural layout. It is exciting to know that my projects have an effect on consumers around the world.
FDU: What does your job entail, day-to-day?
JW: BioReference has a robust in-house design department. The small but mighty graphics department creates content for web design projects, package design for testing kits, promotional items, medical illustrations, video production, animation and corporate branding initiatives.
My work varies day-to-day. Projects can run two weeks or six months. Collaboration with other departments is essential in the design field. I typically work with marketing managers, compliance and legal representatives, IT specialists, sales representatives and even senior executives when developing new campaigns.
FDU: How is BioReference contributing to the fight against COVID-19?
JW: BioReference has been working tirelessly to increase testing capacity, to maintain and even decrease testing turnaround time, and to provide non-traditional testing access points, like drive-through sites. The company has conducted more than 300,000 tests to date.
Our executive chairman, Jon Cohen, a vascular surgeon, has also participated in press conferences with governors Andrew Cuomo and Phil Murphy, and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
When the White House COVID-19 task force recommended allowing commercial laboratories to validate testing, BioReference set up supply channels with multiple vendors to decrease the chance of hitting bottlenecks.
Because BioReference is a specialty lab, there’s a deep bench of technicians trained in the handling of infectious specimens, who were able to quickly pivot to support COVID-19 testing.
FDU: What are you designing as part of the effort? Is there a new website?
JW: The graphics department has been working remotely and designing digital content across brand websites, including BioReference.com and Genpath.com. We have a specific section about COVID-19 testing that provides detailed information about the virus to the public in this unprecedented time.
The graphics department has also been designing content for our social media platforms —Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and Instagram — to achieve a similar goal.
FDU: What’s been the hardest part of this project?
JW: It is challenging to portray information about testing in a simple and concise manner. More broadly for BioReference, the main goal is to provide testing for patients in need, and our lab technicians are working around the clock to ensure that is possible.
FDU: How have you and your work been personally affected by the pandemic?
JW: I am fortunate enough to work from home and live-chat with coworkers. But not seeing them face-to-face is not normal, especially since I thrive in a collaborative environment. This is forcing us to be creative with communication. Knowing BioReference is helping combat this pandemic is comforting, as our experts do amazing things.
FDU: How and why is the work BioReference is doing important?
JW: BioReference recognized the need for COVID-19 testing early on and joined other commercial lab executives at the White House to meet with Vice President Mike Pence to address testing demands. BioReference is wholly concerned with increasing testing capacity for COVID-19; expanding test access for patients who suspect they are infected; and keeping result turnaround times to 48-72 hours or less (and 24 hours or less for critical hospital patients). It’s imperative for the public to have access to testing, especially in hospitals.
FDU: Tell us about how FDU transformed you.
JW: FDU played a large role in my success. I was attracted to the Metropolitan Campus because of the one-on-one attention from dedicated art professors. Classes are deliberately small and focused on your major. The multimedia media lab, portfolio room and the photography studio struck me as particularly impressive back then. I was also drawn to the diverse student population and could see myself forming long-lasting friendships.
To advance my skills, I interned with Hot 97 WQHT-FM’s web design department; CBS’s motion graphics department; Sony Music Group’s advertising department; and Time Warner’s digital design department. In 2010, I began working for Mattel’s digital design department and then worked for “Sesame Street.”
My relationship with the art department at FDU didn’t stop once I graduated. Professors keep in touch and have asked me to come back to speak to students about my design aspirations and successes as a working professional.
I am thankful for my FDU experience, which led me to BioReference, and am grateful to have the opportunity to fulfill my passions and work in the creative industry.