Commencement Spotlight: Daniel Stemen

Meet Class of 2021 Trojan Daniel Stemen, who’s graduating with an M.S. in regulatory science from USC Mann. As the manager of respiratory care and interventional pulmonary services at Keck Medicine of USC, his experience as a respiratory therapist was highly sought after in the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. He contributed to several major medical device development and regulatory submission projects working with teams like those at the NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory.

What originally attracted you to your field?  

As a respiratory therapist at Keck Medicine of USC, I have always been interested in clinical trials and wanted to know more about how to help and be involved in the future of medicine where I could have a bigger impact than just a few patients at a time. I met Dr. Frances Richmond (and the rest of the regulatory science team at USC Mann) and decided the master’s in regulatory science would help me achieve these goals.

Now that your time at USC is coming to an end, what is one of your favorite memories of your time here? How do you feel your experiences at USC have prepared you for this next chapter in your life?   

This past year has been a rollercoaster both professionally and as a student. It is bittersweet but in April 2020 during the beginning stages of the COVID-19 pandemic, my skill set as a respiratory therapist became highly sought after and I participated in several major medical device development and regulatory submission projects. Early in the year, I was connected to the team at NASA Jet Propulsion Laboratory (JPL) and had the opportunity to help with the VITAL ventilator project by bringing in one of our expert professors, Dr. Susan Bain. Around this same time, I was recruited to develop a vent splitter with a team in New York and saw a 3D scan turned Emergency Use Authorization (EUA) clear medical device in 82 days. It was a challenge, but I learned a great deal being exposed to these teams and will take what I have learned with me into the future.

Can you tell us about your post-graduation plans? What are you most looking forward to? 

I am currently looking forward to spending time with my son who was born on March 15, 2021. I also look forward to continuing my work at Keck Medicine of USC where I have been fortunate to lead our respiratory and interventional pulmonary departments alongside a great team.

What message would you like to share with your fellow members of the Class of 2021? 

Never stop giving it your all as the opportunities to help people never stop coming. Fight On!