Melissa Netwal

Field Applications Scientist

Role within the company

Melissa joined SPT Labtech in October 2022 as a Field Application Scientist (FAS) based in Oakland, California. As a member of the North American FAS Team, Melissa is responsible for supporting our liquid handling customers on the US West Coast. Melissa provides expert user training and applications advice for users of the dragonfly®, mosquito®, and firefly® instruments.


Melissa gained 8 years of industry experience, working her way up to the scientist level. During that period, she focused on scaling and optimizing high-throughput workflows using automation, developed CRISPR editing systems for both bacterial and eukaryotic hosts, and built out high-throughput workflows for engineering enzymes. Prior to her time in industry, Melissa completed a bachelor's degree at the University of Wisconsin – La Crosse in Molecular and Cellular Biology. 

Day-to-day tasks

Melissa's current focus is on firefly – SPT Labtech's groundbreaking new liquid handling platform for genomics. Her days vary from traveling to all sorts of laboratory installation sites for applications training, helping customers write new protocols, and advising prospective customers on the ways that firefly can best accelerate and enhance their workflows.

Best part of the role

Melissa has enjoyed the change in pace from working exclusively at the bench and now travels to laboratories, gaining exposure to scientific fields outside of her main areas of expertise. To help customers automate their workflows in the best way she can, Melissa is excited about reading literature from other disciplines less familiar to her. 

Making a difference

For Melissa, the most rewarding aspect of her role at SPT Labtech is the opportunity it gives her to teach other scientists how to get the most out of automation. Melissa came to us from a startup environment and is keenly aware of the issues and hesitations around the pivot from manual pipetting to automated workflows. She is excited about easing that transition for SPT Labtech's customers. What sets SPT Labtech apart from other automation solution providers is the focus and time dedicated to applications training and maintaining close working relationships with customers. Melissa tells customers, "I'm just a phone call away", which is not something she has experienced elsewhere in the industry.

Outside work

Melissa enjoys yoga, cycling and spending time with her neurotic Australian Shepard, Bernie. She also likes exploring the Bay Area, specifically the wineries in Napa Valley, the cool restaurant and bar scene in Oakland, as well as hiking the city trails in San Francisco. Melissa says the Bay Area is always an adventure, but she is also happy to head back to Wisconsin to visit her friends and family whenever she gets the opportunity.