Meet Jaden Spring 2022 Campus Ambassador

Jaden Richardson is a junior at the University of Hartford studying biology and pre- pharmacy. He graduated from Freeport high school in NY in 2019.

While writing this piece, I stopped to reflect on what keeps me going and why I wanted to be a part of the medical field, specifically pharmacy. Being the oldest of three and the protector of my little brothers, compassion and my constant desire to help others was almost innate .

Growing up, my first dream job was definitely to be an astronaut. The thought of space’s vastness and striving tounlock its limitless bounds was something that always intrigued me. Similarly to my fascination with space, the unknown aspects of the study of medicine and biological sciences is what mostly intrigues me about the field.

In the third grade is where my big shift from astronomy to my love of medicine came to fruition. My third-grade teacher at the time was a person who took the study of animals very seriously. The class at the time had a turtle named Benji. Benji was a very interesting turtle in that he had a large abscess on the side of his face. Throughout the school year, all my classmates would take turns feeding him and giving him his medicine. Now, at the time none of us knew what the medicine was for but we still willingly gave it to him in order to help .This was a pivotal point for me in that it subconsciously made me more interested in different types of treatments out there andtheir effects on living things. My turn came towards the end of the year and the week I was feeding him, his infection was almost completely gone. The whole class cheered and I was seen to be the hero of the year for saving Benji. From then on, I knew I wanted to work with medicine and save others like Benji. This way of playing doctor evencontinued at home and to this day. When anyone in my family gets sick, I’m the first one everyone goes to for help.

As my education furthered, my love for science continued to grow. I took more science classes in order to learn as much as I could and it became like an obsession to me. Being as competitive as I am, in high school I began taking part in science fairs and outside research. This influenced my decision to come to college in hope thatI can continue my passion.

Currently, I am an undergraduate junior at the University of Hartford as a biology, pre-pharmacy major.The deciding factor for me in going this route was when I had a

conversation with a family member who is recently new to the field. His overall passion for the impact he was making on his patients on a daily basis inspired me to want the same career. I’ve envisioned working in a hospitalbecause that’s where I believe some of the best work is done in this field.

Therefore, as an aspiring pharmacist, something I hope to accomplish or gain out of this career path is totruly impact people’s lives through medicine and science.

-Written by Jaden Richardson


Meet Mariangelie Spring 2022 Campus Ambassador

This Spring Mariangelie Beaudry was selected to participate in Beyond the PhD’s Campus Ambassador Program. She graduated from Agawam High School in Agawam, MA in 2019 and currently is a a junior at the University of Hartford studying biology.

The earliest age that I can remember wanting to be a part of the medical field was at the age of eleven in my health class where we learned basic anatomy. I was fascinated by everything that I learned and had looked forward to that class every week. Keeping in mind that my love for the sciences was growing, the following year my grandmother was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. 

Once she had been diagnosed, I began to ask lots of questions about the types of things she was going through. I was curious about the symptoms she was experiencing, the treatments she was receiving, and in what ways it was also affecting all of my family members. As time had progressed, I had noticed that there was not a lot of awareness about pancreatic cancer and it was not talked about enough. As a twelve-year-old, I went to my town hall and met with the mayor to see in what ways I could make a difference and bring more awareness to pancreatic cancer. After a couple of meetings, I was able to work with the mayor and declare November as Pancreatic Cancer Awareness month in my town. I was really proud of the awareness that I was able to spread for my grandma before she passed away. 

In the following years, I continued to follow my passions with biology and other sciences in high school. In the back of my mind, I was always thinking about the more knowledge I could have to better understand the body and what my grandma had experienced. Afterward, I was also thinking about the effects of cancer in my family line and how that plays a role in genetics. In my senior year of high school, I had the opportunity of going back to the junior high school I had attended and working with my teacher that had taught me science in seventh grade. I loved that I had come full circle and was able to help students at that age with labs and provide any guidance that I could from my perspective. 

Now, currently a junior at the University of Hartford, I realize even more how much I enjoy working with people and being able to provide advice from my point of view and the knowledge that I have. I am currently a biology major and have been enjoying all of my science classes thus far. On campus, I have had more opportunities to work with people such as being a tour guide where I am able to guide prospective students around campus and give them an insight into campus life as well as specialize in the biology labs. On top of that, I am an orientation leader where I get the opportunity to help the incoming first-year class get acclimated to being on a university campus and get some of those first-day jitters out. Lastly, I am a member of the student government association where I get to work with other students and be an advocate of the student’s voices. I enjoy that club especially because it allows me to bring to life my other hobbies in politics that I do not give as much attention to sometimes. 

Currently, I am planning on going into a program after graduation where I can work with people, teaching them about genetic disorders that could potentially affect them in their lifetime and in what ways they can cope with it. I am aspiring to educate people and positively impact their lives. I am hopeful that I can help as many families as possible and I am very excited to see where else my journey takes me. 

Written by Mariangelie Beaudry

Career Seminar on April 3: From PhD to Science Reporter

Beyond the PhD is excited to welcome Dr. Angie Voyles Askham, a science reporter for Spectrum. Come learn about her career path on April 3rd at 11am ET.

Angie Voyles Askham is a reporter for Spectrum, where she covers neural circuits and gene therapy, among other topics. She also writes Spectrum Launch, a monthly newsletter for early-career researchers. Before joining Spectrum in 2020, she worked in radio journalism and academic publishing. She received a Ph.D. in neuroscience from NYU in 2015 and a bachelor’s degree in neuroscience from Vanderbilt University in 2010.

Register: https://eventbrite.com/e/595226126367

Event on March 24th: Immunology PhD to Industry

Beyond the PhD is excited to welcome Dr. Jayendra Kumar Krishnaswamy, a cellular immunologist and Principal Scientist at Galderma. Come learn about his career path on Friday March 24th at 3pm ET (zoom). Free Event!

Register here: https://lnkd.in/et6m634T

Dr. Jayendra Kumar Krishnaswamy’s Bio: 

I am a cellular immunologist with over 15 years of experience in both academia and industry. My research interests are primarily in innate-adaptive immune cell cross-talk in the context of autoimmunity, inflammatory diseases and vaccine responses. I did my PhD at the Hannover Biomedical Research School in Germany where I worked on targeting lung dendritic cells to tailor T cell responses. I did my post-doctoral training at Yale with Prof. Stephanie Eisenbarth where we delineated the role of conventional dendritic cell subsets in driving humoral responses. Specifically, we identified that Type 2 conventional DCs drove T follicular helper cell responses by carrying antigen to a unique sub-anatomic region of the lymph node- the T-B border. My expertise in DC-T cell cross-talk as well as experience in respiratory immunology led to a position as Senior Research Scientist at AstraZeneca, Sweden. My work at AstraZeneca primarily focused on identifying novel therapeutic targets for respiratory, inflammation and autoimmune diseases like asthma, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease and idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis. I also led an independent research group with postdoctoral and graduate students, where we  delineated the role of human dendritic cell and tissue resident memory cells in the context of inflammatory diseases. In order to better understand the drug discovery process, I joined a smaller mid-size company, Galderma as a Principal Scientist. Galderma is focused on I worked in the pre-clinical research team where we were leading several projects into the clinic. However, within a few months after joining, the leadership at Galderma noticed my affinity for working with omics datasets as well as unearthing molecular and cellular responses. I was asked to setup and lead a Translational Medicine team, which I have been doing for the past 2.5 years. My team is responsible for mechanism of Action (MOA) and biomarker identification for all pipeline projects, i.e preclinical to Phase III, within multiple disease indications including Atopic dermatitis, Prurigo Nodularis (PN), Acne and Cutaneous T cell Lymphoma. During this time, we have successfully led biomarker analysis for multiple Phase II and Phase III studies, described the MOA of a marketed product in acne, as well as the MOA of a clinical stage asset in Prurigo Nodularis- all with state-of-the art multi-omics analyses. We also work with multiple research partners in academia and industry, publish extensively as well as present our work at various international conferences.  

No matter the path you take, you’ll end up where you’re supposed to be

Life is rarely straightforward, and I carved out an unusual path toward my future in biomedical engineering by gaining valuable insight and skills from each and every person along that way.

I grew up as the youngest of a family with three older siblings in a small suburb just north of Boston, MA. With my two sisters being the oldest of us four, my brother and I were “close”, but our relationship would be better summarized as a contest. Unfortunately, no matter how hard I tried, I just couldn’t seem to beat him at his favorite sports, so I decided to pick up a sport he didn’t play, basketball. Later, as the captain of the Trinity College Men’s Basketball Team, I was tasked with not only performing on the court, but also leading and motivating my teammates. This was a huge responsibility, and one that I took very seriously. I quickly learned that being a successful captain required me to be accountable and dependable, both in my own performance and in my ability to bring out the best in my teammates. This experience served as a foundation for a strong work ethic, which has proven to be crucial for scientific research.

I have always had a curious mind and a love for trying new things. With my father being an engineer and my mother being a nurse, I found my passion fell equally between them in the space of biomedical engineering. My path to this space was everything but straight forward; like many students studying the sciences, I started out aspiring to be a doctor, but the rigorous course schedule and intimidating cost of medical school drove me to pursue other directions.

During my undergraduate years, I explored various research labs before finally finding my niche in a co-op program at the University of Connecticut Glial Pathology Lab. That’s where I met Rob Pijewski (Co-director of Beyond the Ph.D.), who sparked my interest in doctorate-level research and helped me hone my skills. After earning my Bachelor of Science in Neuroscience in 2019, I was hired as a lab technician at Tufts University Silklab in the Biomedical Engineering Department. While, at the time, I didn’t have a background in engineering, what I did have was a willingness to learn. My time at Silklab has been an incredible learning experience. I initially specialized in high-pressure liquid chromatography (HPLC), but later got hands on experience with many other research fields like biophotonics, bioelectronics, biochemistry, and sustainable design – all through the lens of silk research. And after a year as a technician, I was accepted into the PhD program at Silklab and have been happily working there for the past three years. My work has given me an entirely new appreciation for the bridge between science and nature, I am excited to pursue a career in biomaterial design in the near future.

Despite all I’ve learned so far, I feel like I know even less each day, but I’m not alone. That’s why I joined Beyond the PhD – to share the lessons I’ve learned from the many scientists I’ve met, one of which is the importance of cultivating creativity. It’s that creative spark that drives innovation and ultimately propels careers in industry. For example, in my field, bridging the gap between sustainability and tangible materials requires a unique perspective, a sense of the natural world’s beauty, and its subtle attention to detail. However, it’s not always easy maintaining that perspective, especially when my experiments seem to go wrong week after week. But as my high school basketball coach used to say, “it’s all part of the process,” and a PhD or a career in science is definitely a process!

From Academia to Entrepreneurship

Are you interested in business exploring entrepreneurship after academics or commercializing research? Beyond the PhD hosted Vincent Troung who is the chief operating officer (COO) and co-founder of Anatomic Incorporated. Vincent shared his journey into entrepreneurship and relevant details about founding a scientific company.

            Vincent grew up in Minneapolis, MN and got his first experience in business working at his family’s restaurant. This taught him the value of working hard and that if you make a good product people will line up for it. He then went to the University of Minnesota (UMN) where he earned a BS in biochemistry. Although he was originally following a pre-med track, Vincent had interests outside of biology such as investing and research. After undergrad, he took a position in the lab of Dr. Ann Parr and James Dutton where his passion for stem cell biology flourished. The research in this lab focused on finding an autologous cell therapy for spinal cord injury using human induced pluripotent stem cells. Through this research experience, he also met Patrick Walsh, who would eventually become his co-founder.

            Using their foundational knowledge in stem cell biology, Vincent and Patrick worked collaboratively to shorten and automate the protocol for this regenerative medicine therapy. They wanted to commercialize this product so they could market the process and help patients. The first thing they did was develop a business plan. Additionally, one of the first decisions Vincent and Patrick had to make was if they were going to market their product as a cell therapy or research tool. To gain more business experience, Vincent signed up for the part-time MBA program at the Carlson School of Management. Here he partook in the UMN discovery launchpad program to solidify his business plan. He also enrolled in programs to help with customer discovery and was able to license the technology through the UMN Office for Technology Commercialization. 

The next thing Vincent had to do was prospecting. This included networking through conferences as well as using LinkedIn and cold emailing, or emailing people who you have not had prior contact with. From all these interactions, Vincent learned that it’s best to let the prospects do the talking and that sometimes tangents or serendipitous interactions can lead to “aha moments”. Vincent also stressed that it’s important to participate in every conversation possible because you never know where they might lead. Vincent and Patrick were able to take all the feedback from these conversations and improve their product, get grants and investments, and move the commercialization process forward. 

Vincent then proceeded to talk about “a day in the life” in his current entrepreneurial role. He emphasized that the focus is still on the customers and figuring out what assays or data would be most helpful for their research and company. Additionally, everything is very data driven and that you need to keep producing data to make the customers happy. Vincent also stressed the importance of finding inspiration and discovering industry trends. This can come from sources such as conference presentations, LinkedIn, Twitter, new publications, or even news headlines. He is also involved in assay development in the lab. This includes improving protocols and making sure experiments fall within budget.

Another responsibility Vincent has is to set up collaborations with synergistic companies or academic institutions. Collaboration is an important aspect of both academic and industry science. He is also involved in the marketing of the company. He does this through channels such as Twitter and LinkedIn where he disseminates data and information about the company through social media. Vincent’s company promotes and markets themselves is through conference attendance. Anatomic Incorporated was able to attend Society for Neuroscience (SfN) and set up a booth. Vincent had to coordinate logistics and marketing leading up to the conference. During the conference he partook in networking, disseminating information about the company, and metric tracking. Anatomic Incorporated had three posters that were well attended as well as a good amount of traffic to the company’s booth. Post-conference, Vincent must follow up with the new connections he met at SfN to maintain working relationships.

Vincent concluded his talk emphasizing the importance of building a good company culture. As his team continues to grow, he is focused on good communication and management of his employees. He wants to keep the company data driven, adhere to the company mission, stay humble, and continue to learn as Anatomic Incorporated grows.

 If you are interested in learning more and viewing Vincent’s talk follow this link to the full seminar: https://youtu.be/ajXUZAwXjG8

DON’T MISS OUT! From PhD to Non-Profit on March 9

Dr. Eugene Manley Jr is the Director of STEM Workforce Initiatives at LUNGevity. He has launched a Minority Mentorship and Training Program for Health Equity grant awardees, runs 3 health equity webinar series, does STEM outreach and engagement, and partners with groups to address disparities and inequities that impact underrepresented groups and underserved populations. He is an inspirational speaker and often talks about navigating STEM, mentoring, patient advocacy, workforce diversity, and issues impacting low income and marginalized communities. 

He is a Mechanical Engineer, Biomedical Engineer, and Molecular and Cell Biologist that specializes in musculoskeletal biology, biomechanics, and cancer biology. He has used systems biology approaches to unravel complex problems at the cellular, molecular, and whole organismal level and developed new techniques and therapeutic approaches. 

Prior to LUNGevity, he was the Director of Scientific Programs at the Lung Cancer Research Foundation where he oversaw the entire grant administration system, created a Minority Career Development Award, liaised between internal and external stakeholders, and wrote scientific updates. Prior to that, at the American Association for Cancer Research as Assistant Director of Corporate Alliances, he leveraged his 20+ years of engineering and biology lab work to build relationships with Biotech and Pharma to support AACR programs and initiatives.  His philosophy is not what can he do for himself, but what can he do to help and advocate for those that don’t have voices at the table.

Register here to attend! https://www.eventbrite.com/e/from-phd-to-non-profit-tickets-566631890237

 Bioinformatics in precision medicine: the interplay between molecular and personal data

Medicine is undergoing radical transformations as it moves away from population-based approaches and toward personalized care. Many of these changes rely on detailed molecular data (DNA and protein sequences) as well as complex personal information. The paradigm of precision medicine refers to the use of personalized approaches combined with molecular data insights to make clinical decisions that are tailored to individual patients.

Precision medicine, also known as personalized medicine, is based on the premise that “one size does not fit all” – every individual is unique in terms of genetic makeup, environment, and lifestyle. Precision medicine considers personal factors in disease diagnosis and treatment. These include factors beyond genetics, such as diet and exercise habits. It could even refer to environmental factors one is exposed to now or was as a child, such as the air and water quality of the area one lives in. The potential benefits of this approach include more accurate diagnosis and treatments, safer drug prescription, better disease prevention, and, as a result, lower healthcare costs.

The interplay between molecular and personal data is critical for precision medicine. Molecular data allows for a more in-depth understanding of the precise, and yet complex, biological mechanisms underlying many clinical symptoms. Personal data, based on an individual’s background, lifestyle, and environment, provides context for biological variation. As a result, bioinformatics is used to identify precise data signals in the context of personal factors and share these insights with physicians to deliver safer and more effective disease diagnosis, treatment, and prevention strategies. Particularly, bioinformatics aids in analyzing data from genome sequencing or microarray gene expression analysis in search of mutations or gene variants that could affect a patient’s response to a specific drug or change the disease prognosis. This has increased the demand for bioinformaticians in the advancement of areas such as oncology, non-invasive genetic testing, rare genetic diseases, etc.

If you intend to pursue a career in bioinformatics, first of all, you must have strong critical thinking skills, problem-solving abilities, analytical reasoning, and advanced mathematical skills. You would also need to be proficient in the following technical skills: [1] statistical skills, [2] programming skills, [4] general biology knowledge, [5] knowledge of genomics and genetics, [6] database management, [7] data mining and machine learning.

To start a career as a bioinformatician in the health sector, you will likely need at least a Master’s degree to be competitive. There are several undergraduate programs in bioinformatics and related interdisciplinary fields available. However, graduate applicants do not need to have a BSc in bioinformatics or a related field; they may have bachelor’s degrees in life sciences or computer science. Graduate study in bioinformatics requires coursework in molecular biology, genetics, chemistry, computer programming, and statistics, regardless of the applicant’s first degree.

Career opportunities in bioinformatics have grown in demand since the introduction of information technology in molecular biology. Professionals in this field can work in a variety of settings, including the pharmaceutical industry, biomedical organizations, biotechnology, research institutions, hospitals, and even non-governmental organizations. They may also be able to find employment in the biomedical product manufacturing industries. After completing the necessary training in the field, there are several career options to consider, given that bioinformaticians have a unique skill set that makes them attractive to companies. At a time when a bioinformatician’s skillset is increasing in demand for a variety of fields, consider whether this career may be right for you.

An in depth look at IDPs: know yourself and prepare for the future ahead

If you are feeling lost in the next steps of your professional development or just need help organizing your goals, then an individual development plan (IDP) is for you! 

In short, an IDP is a self-reflection about certain aspects of your professional life, such as skills that you possess or want to cultivate, your interests within your field, and personal values. Then, after this assessment, an IDP can help you set goals in the short- and long-term in order to strengthen areas you want to improve or reach certain achievements. In the professional world, an IDP is like a customized contract between you and your employer about professional development, ensuring that you continue to progress in your career. However, an IDP can be super beneficial during graduate school to not only keep you on track for your goals, but also help you realize what career goals you might have. 

Critical Self-Assessment

The first step in any IDP is to perform a self-assessment of your skills (both technical and transferable), your interests within the context of a career, and where your values lie. 

  • Usually, the skills being assessed are within the categories of scientific knowledge, research, management and leadership, and professionalism, to name a few. Know your strengths and weaknesses so you can understand where to focus on improvement.
  • The interest assessment is focused on how you would prefer to spend your time in your career. Do you enjoy written or oral communication of science and want to do that regularly? Do you see yourself working with a large group of people and managing them? How often would you want to do work-related travel? All of these (and many, many more) are important questions to ask yourself when deciding what type of career you would like to have. 
  • Lastly, there is the assessment of your values. These range from the societal impact of your work to whether a flexible schedule is make or break for you. Take a moment to truly think about what is important to you.

Ultimately, skills can always be learned or improved upon. However, if your values and interests do not align with a particular career path, then further consideration may be needed of whether that is the right trajectory for you. 

Career Exploration

After you have made a critical assessment of your skills, many IDP resources provide you with career prospects that most align with your skills and interests. Within these career fits, they usually give testimonials from current professionals in those fields and how they reached that career. You can also find information on how your skills and interests compare to others in that profession to see where you should focus your improvement goals. This section allows you to explore the many career paths available to you. 

Set Goals for Success

Once you’ve identified your strengths and weaknesses, and how they align with your chosen career path, you can start to set goals for yourself to advance in these areas. These goals should be SMART: specific, measurable, achievable, reasonable, and timely. These goals can be oriented toward career or professional advancement, research project completion, skill development, or evening networking. When outlining your goals, make sure to not only be SMART with them, but set a metric for keeping track of progress and holding yourself accountable for each of them. 

Get Out What You Put In

An IDP is personally driven, you are only going to take from it as much as you put in. If you are consistent with reflecting on your goals and actively working toward them, you are setting yourself up for success. It is generally recommended to review your IDP annually, but if you include multiple short-term goals, it is better to review monthly or quarterly to ensure progress in those areas. Finally, to keep yourself accountable, it is advised to review your IDP with your boss, PI, or mentor annually as a way to more generally ensure your success in the self-identified areas. This guidance is invaluable to not only check progress but also to be realistic in the timeline of goals and which ones to prioritize.

IDP Resources

There are a number of resources available to create and update your IDP. Free IDP sources for STEM students include myIDP (https://myidp.sciencecareers.org/, broad STEM focus) and ChemIDP (https://chemidp.acs.org/assess-yourself, chemical sciences focus), which provide exceptional self-assessments and goal tracking systems. An additional resource is The Versatile PhD (https://versatilephd.com/, STEM and humanities options) which can be accessed through your institution if they subscribe. All of these resources offer self-assessments, goal trackers, and career exploration. Use these as the launching point of your IDP, and over time make more personalized additions to fully facilitate reaching your career goals!

Dr. Seth Garren: How Failures Defined My Value and Enabled My Career

By Rachel Gilmore

Recently, Beyond the PhD hosted Dr. Seth Garren for a virtual seminar where he detailed the “less glamorous parts of academia and industry.” As a current 4th year PhD student, I found his reflections on challenges, struggles, and failures to be extremely relevant and relatable. After Seth earned his bachelor’s degree at the University of Connecticut, he decided to follow the funding which was aggressively being put toward stem cell research in Connecticut. This led him to pursue graduate studies in the Biomedical Science program at UConn Health.

Leadership & Communication Outside of the Lab

With a lengthy PhD, Seth witnessed some of the not-so-great parts of graduate school. He described struggles with imposter syndrome, pressure to produce data, disjointed lab environments, and feeling like he was falling behind. This is something I know spans many graduate programs and universities. It is also a reality countless students experience throughout their degree pursuit. During the tough times, he decided to use social media (meetup.com) to start a Geek Culture Group to build relationships and expand his network beyond graduate school. The group became wildly popular and still exists to this day. He credits the Geek Culture Group group for helping him cultivate important leadership and communication skills.

Failure Can Bide Time

While some of the main experiments Seth attempted didn’t work out, he noted that this allowed enough time to pass for next generation sequencing (NGS) to become an option. At this point, he was rather quickly able to conduct an NGS experiment, get published, and graduate with his PhD. Failure is often part of a PhD, but persistence can pay off.

What is a postdoc? Why do people do one? What is it necessary for? How do you get one?

Towards the end of his PhD, Seth began questioning what his next step would be. His labmate knew some professionals in industry and gave him a warm introduction to them. This allowed Seth to conduct informational interviews with individuals who took different paths into industry – one who did a postdoc before industry, one who went into industry directly from a PhD, and one who did an industry postdoc. Not only did Seth learn more about each career path, but he ended each interview by asking for another warm introduction with someone from their network. I found this to be fantastic advice for individuals looking to learn more about careers and build their network.

Relaxed, Confident, Secure

During his search for a postdoc, Seth was put through the ringer. He was told he wasn’t passionate enough for certain labs. However, his search was not wasted. Eventually he ended up at Massachusetts General Hospital. He described the culture as nothing he had ever seen before in academia – relaxed, confident, and secure. He noted that he was able to secure this position because they needed someone with NGS experience, the very thing that he was only able to achieve because of his failures biding him time for this technique to be developed.

Applying Lessons Learned from Mistakes

Determined to do a single two-year postdoc, Seth described using this as an opportunity to apply some tough lessons learned from his mistakes during his approximately eight-year PhD. Seth sought help anywhere & everywhere. Additionally, he had a frank discussion with his PI when his project wasn’t going well, which he noted was a productive and positive experience. His PI had already observed the same things and was actually prepared to have the same talk with him. Seth’s willingness to have a tough conversation was met with acceptance and problem-solving.

Network, network, network

Boston provided many opportunities for attending networking events such as “Biotech Tuesday” and events through MassBio (https://www.massbio.org/) and Bioxchange (https://www.bioxchange.org/). Seth suggested building a large number of “weak connections” to have the greatest potential for cross pollination of your network.

Breaking into Industry

To help him with his transition out of academia, Seth found a mentorship program for professionals in industry to meet with people interested in moving into industry. He interviewed for three different industry jobs and stressed the importance of finding the right fit, for both the interviewer and interviewee. His “right fit” ended up being at Pfizer in the Molecular Systems Immunology group in the Inflammation & Immunology Research Unit. His title was Senior Scientist. At Pfizer, he felt a level of comfort he didn’t know was possible and described it as “being in a space that feels like you belong” and, “You let go of the breath you didn’t realize you were holding.” He was responsible for testing and developing new technologies including automation, single cell surface marker barcodes, and spatial transcriptomics.

Other Opportunities for Growth

In addition to his position at Pfizer, Seth also joined an expert consultation network, which he noted was a great way to earn supplemental income. He provided guidance on up-and-coming technologies. He met with vendors, attended shows, and demoed instruments to stay up to speed on new technologies. He consulted with investors, inventors, and market analysts to provide his opinion on current needs of NGS users. He was paid to fill out surveys on spending habits for purchasing consumables.

Following the Leader

When Seth’s boss took a new role at Sanofi, Seth inherited the responsibility of co-managing the NGS Technology Center at Pfizer. After her departure, she had reached out to Seth subtly hinting at a potential job opportunity at Sanofi, to which he applied. His interview talk focused on the work he did back during his postdoc. Ultimately, Seth was offered the position as Team Lead at the Precision Oncology Cluster at Sanofi, where he currently works. He described his new position as “feeling more like a main quest rather than a side quest.”

Individual Results May Vary

Seth concluded his seminar summarizing some of the differences he’s experience between industry and academia, though he did warn that individual results may vary.

  1. Industry is more applied science. Every question has a clear utility for solving a problem in medicine.
  2. There is no “Publish or Perish” competition over something like the impact factor of a journal.
  3. There’s a matrixed organization with access to more funding and a much wider expertise.
  4. Culture is determined more by individual leaders. People “quit bosses” more than they “quit companies.”
  5. Pay is 2-3x higher with performance-based bonuses and financial incentives.
  6. Large companies provide stability, small companies provide opportunity.
  7. Networking is just as – if not more – important than personal achievement.
  8. There is a stronger focus on personal career development and goal setting.

If you enjoyed reading this summary, feel free to check out Seth’s seminar recording on our YouTube channel: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Sqlj6abpvU4. Be sure to follow us on Twitter (@BeyondthePhD) & Instagram (@beyond_the_phd) for posts about more words of wisdom we’ve learned from Seth and other helpful content!

Upcoming event: From PhD to Consultancy

Beyond the PhD is excited to welcome Dr. Aditi Vyas, a Life Sciences Consultant with Cerneos Group. Come learn about her career path on February 10th at 2pmET. Register below. Free event!

Aditi is a Life Sciences Consultant with Cerneos Group based in Boston, MA. At Cernoes she provides solutions to her clients for their projects in the biotech industry. Aditi is a recent PhD graduate in Biological Sciences from Michigan Technological University and transitioned into industry as a consultant. Join Aditi for a seminar where she will share her insights and experiences with fellow PhD’s, postdocs, and other graduate students on how she moved into a industry position as a PhD and navigating the search process.

7 Incredible Tips, PhD Candidate Approved and Tested, for Interviewing for Graduate School

Graduate school interviews can be a daunting process. These interviews may be conducted in person or virtually depending on the program. However, preparing for interviews can help you succeed, and have great interactions with potential faculty and colleagues. During graduate school interviews, you may meet with primary investigators or PIs whose lab you are interested in, other faculty, and current students. Making a positive and lasting impression during your interview can increase your chances of getting an offer into a masters or PhD program. 

Here are some general interview tips to help you succeed:

  • Review your CV/resume as well as other materials you submitted. Be prepared to talk about any experience that you listed. Remember that this is the only information the interviewer received and all they know about you. Also, don’t be afraid to go into more detail and talk about how your experience makes you an ideal candidate. 
  • Be ready to pitch yourself. You will most likely be asked about your background and why you are a good fit for the position. Be prepared to spend a small amount of time talking about yourself, your background, and your accomplishments. 
  • Make a good first impression. Dressing up a bit for the interview, being on time, and being prepared can help make a great first impression with your interviewer. 
  • Don’t be afraid to do a mock interview. Practicing answering interview questions can help you feel more comfortable and prepared for interviews. 

Here are some graduate school specific interview tips:

  • Look up the people you will be interviewing with. Knowing a bit about the research and projects your interviewers are working on can help conversation flow. It also shows your interest and commitment. Looking up their research articles, lab websites, or faculty profiles can help you get a better idea of who you will be interviewing with. 
  • Show your interest in the college/university. Knowing a bit about the place you could potentially spend the next 4-7 years of your life is important. Talking about how you would be a good fit at that specific university or department can help demonstrate your fit for the program. 
  • Ask questions. An interview is a two-way street! You also need to make sure that the program is what you want and that you can see yourself being a graduate student there. Don’t be afraid to ask pertinent questions about the research, funding, classes, graduate student life, and anything else you think is important. 

It can also be helpful to talk to current graduate students who have been through the interview process. If you do not have the chance to consult a current or former grad student, don’t fret. Below is some advice from two current grad students on conducting interviews:

“-I strongly suggest being familiar with the work of the PI who is interviewing you, so that you can better engage when they discuss their research and ask more specific questions.

-Have an answer to potential career plans and how getting a PhD is going to help in that pursuit.

-Come prepared with questions about the program, their lab, how they mentor, etc. Even if you end up asking the same questions to multiple PIs, you tend to get varied answers so you can form a full picture of the program. It also shows your interest.

-Remember that while they are the ones interviewing you, you are also there to determine whether the program will fit your wants/needs. Don’t be afraid to ask about the specifics of the program that matter most to you.

-Interview days are very long and can be exhausting, make sure to prepare in advance and get rest the day before.”

            – Natalie Sandlin, 5th year Biology PhD student at Boston College 

“How did you prepare

  • I most often used the faculty directory on a school’s website, which I had soon come to find out was VERY outdated in a lot of cases. I would recommend using a search engine like PubMed or Google Scholar to and reading the abstract or even methods section on some of the PI’s most recent last author publications for the most up to date research!

What kind of questions did you get

  • I think the most common one I got was to talk about the research I did.  Definitely prepare a good elevator pitch to introduce what you did, how you did it, and why they (or anyone!) should care, briefly of course. This would be a good spot to link to our elevator pitch materials.

What kind of advice would you give incoming students

  • Don’t be afraid to sell yourself. This does require some research on your part to figure out how you could contribute to the school or an individual PI’s lab, but I can almost assure you that work will pay off in the long run!”
  • Rachel Gilmore, 4th year Biomedical Science PhD student at UConn Health
Translate »
%d bloggers like this: