Meet the Team

We are a small team of PhD students and postdoctoral fellows from New England with a wide range of skills and experience. We choose to volunteer our time to provide students with the resources and confidence to explore career paths that may be better suited to their needs.

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Robert Pijewski, PhD

Visiting Assistant Professor, School of Professional Studies- Departments of Biology and Mathematics at Anna Maria College, Paxton, MA

Co-founder of AIOG/ Co-Director of Beyond the PhD

I recently finished my PhD in Biomedical Science at UConn Health in Farmington, CT. and am currently a visiting assistant professor at Anna Maria College. I am just ending my first full year of teaching and I have loved every minute of it. During my time at UConn Health, I realized that students and postdocs had a lack of resources and education regarding careers beyond the traditional academic setting, i.e. becoming a tenure-track professor at a research institution. I’ve also heard dozens of PhD candidates just saying “I think I am more of an industry person”, but my question to them is “what kind of industry?”. With that question in mind, I started this group. My hobbies include playing piano, cooking, and traveling (pre and post-pandemic).

Giulia Vigone, PhD

Director of MS Student Affairs/Lecturer at Northwestern University- Department of Obstetrics and Gynecology

Co-Founder of AIOG

I currently work in the department of Obstetrics and Gynecology at Northwestern University. Early in my scientific career I realized that life at the bench did not fit my personality and I started to become involved in science outreach, communication and education. I took an active role in my postdoc community and teamed with other fellows towards to establish the UConn Health and Jackson Lab joint Postdoctoral Association (UJPDA) in 2017 and soon after, I co-founded AIOG. Through these experiences I have discovered a passion for helping others succeed in their own careers. When I am not giving (unsolicited) advice on life/career issues, I am jogging, cooking or traveling around the world.

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Britt Knight, PhD

Program Coordinator, United Stated Association for the Study of Pain

Co-Director of Beyond the PhD

In August 2019 I completed my PhD in Biomedical science at the University of Connecticut and then completed a postdoctoral fellowship at the Connecticut Convergence Institute. Currently I am the Program Coordinator for the USASP. My position includes Board of Directors and committee development, annual meeting planning and coordination, educational and professional development programming, and project management. My hobbies include listening to movie soundtracks, watching nature documentaries, and cooking.

Dominique Martin, MS

Graduate Assistant

Content manager

I am a current dual Biomedical Science PhD/ MBA candidate at UConn Health in Farmington, CT. My research involves understanding age-related changes to the immune system and why older adults are more susceptible to viral diseases such as influenza. I originally thought I wanted to be a veterinarian and always was interested in science. However, after getting involved in undergraduate research, I knew I was more drawn to working in a lab and conducting exciting new experiments. Although I still have a few more years in my PhD program, I am passionate about career discovery and careers outside academia. Outside of research I enjoy playing volleyball, riding horses, hiking with my dog, and reading.

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Rachel Gilmore, BS

PhD Candidate

UConn Health Graduate Student Liaison & Content Manager

Hi there! I’m a PhD candidate in the Biomedical Science program at UConn Health. I
study a rare neurodevelopmental disorder, Prader-Willi Syndrome, using stem cell and
stem cell-derived neuron models. I graduated in May of 2019 with a BS in Forensic
Science from the University of New Haven in West Haven, CT. Though I am originally
from Northeast PA, CT has basically claimed me as one of its own. My broad scientific
interests include translational research and genetic/genomic modifications as they relate to gene expression & function. Outside of lab, I enjoy watching & attending sporting events, hiking, yoga, good food, lots of coffee, and snuggling with my cat. I’m still not sure what I want to be when I grow up (honestly it changes day to day), but this group has allowed me to explore so many options “Beyond the PhD.”

Natalie Sandlin, BS

PhD Candidate

Ambassador Program Coordinator, AIOG Ambassador for Boston College

I am a fifth-year PhD candidate in Biology at Boston College. I graduated from the University of Dallas in 2018 with my BS in Biology, concentrating in Molecular Biology. My current research interests include molecular microbiology and bioremediation, where I study mechanisms of aflatoxin biodetoxification toward resolving major aflatoxin food contamination issues. I joined Beyond the PhD to explore career opportunities available to me as a STEM PhD and help others navigate the often overwhelming task of choosing a career. This group has been foundational in my confidence to approach the job market as I approach the end of graduate school. My role as Ambassador Program Coordinator allows me to pursue my passion for mentoring in the context of aiding young scientists through their professional journey. Outside of science, I enjoy baking, spending time outdoors, reading historical fiction, and watching kdramas.

Heather Wanczyk, BS

Graduate Assistant

Content Manager

I am currently a 1st year PhD student in the Biomedical Sciences program at Uconn Health. My research is focused on tissue engineering approaches to treat congenital/acquired defects of the lung in pediatric patients. Prior to applying to Graduate school, I worked as a Research Assistant at Uconn Health for over 4 years, specializing in the use of human induced pluripotent stem cells for lung tissue regeneration. I joined AIOG because of the many opportunities to connect and learn from other researchers outside of academia. When I’m not busy with classes and working in the lab, I enjoy spending time with my three very active little boys and husband.  

Sai Nivedita Krishnan, MS

Graduate Assistant

Content Manager

I am currently a first year PhD student in the biomedical sciences program at UConn Health. I recently graduated  with a MSc in Human Anatomy & Cell Science from the University of Manitoba, Canada. I am interested in understanding how the tumor microenvironment plays a role in cancer progression. I have joined AIOG as I have always been curious about exploring careers outside of academia. Outside of the lab, I love reading novels and watching movies in as many languages as possible.


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