Career Exploration Series

The Career Exploration Series is a program of panel discussions, seminars and networking events that aim to educate postdoctoral trainees about the wide range of careers open to them following their training.

Events are open to everyone unless otherwise stated below. Questions? Contact Andrew Cusick (

2017 - 2018 Series


Careers Using Social Science Skills

Wednesday 1/24 12:00 pm-1:30 pm. 6201 Microbial Sciences.

Your proven ability to use quantitative and qualitative research skills to address important questions makes you highly competitive for jobs in a wide variety of employment sectors. Business, government and non-profits need your research insight to solve critical problems.

Come hear from social science PhDs who are using their training to pursue careers in software development, healthcare, consulting, and public policy research.

  • Melissa Boone (PhD Sociomedical Sciences and Social Psychology), User Research, Microsoft Xbox
  • Kathryn Edwards (PhD Economics), Associate Economist, RAND Corporation
  • Paige Smith (PhD Sociology), Healthcare Data Scientist, Lumeris
  • Nicole Zeng (Organizational Behavior), Senior Quantitative Researcher, Slack

This event was not recorded.


Pharma Industry Site Visit: Catalent Biologics

Monday 11/6 9:00am-2:00pm. Catalent Biologics, Madison.

Are you considering using your scientific expertise in the pharmaceutical industry? This event is a great opportunity to interact with industry scientists, tour their facility, and understand how your skills and experience match different roles within their company.

Catalent Pharma Solutions, a leading advanced delivery technology company, helps pharmaceutical, biotech and consumer health innovators develop and supply superior products that improve people’s lives. The Madison office is the center for biologics excellence where they produce protein and nucleic acid based therapeutics for unmet medical needs. 

Within their facility, project managers coordinate the efforts of their molecular biologists, cell line developers, upstream and downstream process development scientists, and bioanalytical chemists as they develop robust processes that their GMP bio-manufacturing, quality control and quality assurance teams use to produce new therapeutic treatments for use in clinical studies.

This event was not recorded.


Crafting and Delivering a Memorable Elevator Pitch

Wednesday 9/20 11:30am-1:00pm. 1220 Health Sciences Learning Center.

Is your “elevator pitch” ready for use at job interviews and conferences?

Join serial entrepreneur Chris Kendrick-Parker, and Brian Jarecki (Technical Sales Consultant, Essen Bioscience) for a demonstration of this method of starting professional conversations, and receive detailed guidance on crafting and delivering your own elevator pitch.

Following the workshop, try out your pitch to start mutually beneficial conversations with participants from Promega, Essen Bioscience, and UW-Madison who have come together as part of a campus research symposium.

This event was not recorded.


2016 - 2017 Series


Faculty Job Market Success: Social Sciences

Monday May 22, 2017 12:00pm-1:00pm. 1360 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.

Do you plan to pursue a faculty position? This informal question and answer session is an opportunity to hear the perspectives of postdocs and scientists from UW–Madison who have successfully navigated the job market this year, before they leave to start their new positions. While the panelists perform research in the social sciences, much of their experiences are relevant to all fields. Discussion topics will include: application materials, phone interviews, campus visits, negotiations, and managing the two-body problem.

  • Viridiana Benitez, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Psychology, Arizona State University

  • Lauren Bishop-Fitzpatrick, PhD, Assistant Professor, School of Social Work, UW-Madison

  • Edward Vargas, PhD, MPH, Assistant Professor, School of Transborder Studies, Arizona State University

  • Courtney Venker, PhD, CCC-SLP, Assistant Professor, Department of Communicative Sciences and Disorders, Michigan State University

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Management Consulting

Thursday May 18, 2017. 12:00pm-1:00pm. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.

Management consulting firms routinely hire problem solvers with advanced degrees from a wide range of disciplines to solve their clients' business challenges. Individuals with proven quantitative analytical skills are especially in demand. Firms seek applicants with a drive to succeed, and will provide intense on the job business and management training for their new hires.

Come listen to the following panelists to see if this career is right for you:

  • Youbean Oak (PhD Molecular Biology)
    Senior Consultant, Navigant. Previously at Simon-Kucher & Partners.
  • Lauren Silvers (PhD Comparative Literature)
    Principal Consultant, GrowthPlay

Co-sponsored by The University of Chicago's UChicagoGRAD.

Video recording of the event here.


Breaking into Industry

Thursday April 20, 2017. 1:00pm - 2:00pm. 1220 Health Sciences Learning Center.

As part of an all day Gene Editing Symposium at the University of Wisconsin co-sponsored by TaKaRa Bio, the UW-Madison Office of Postdoctoral Studies is pleased to host a "Breaking into Industry" panel.

Join two product managers, a consultant, and an operations vice president from four different biotech companies to see if industry is the right place for you. Panelists will share their experiences and what led them to a career in industry.

  • Anjana Bhattacharya, PhD, Global Product Manager, Women's Health, Luminex
  • Laura Juckem, PhD, VP of Scientific Operations, Mirus Bio
  • Chris Parker, PhD, Biotechnology Consultant
  • Baz Smith, PhD, Senior Product Manager, Takara Bio

Co-sponsored by the Office of Corporate Relations.

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Science Writing

Friday April 7, 2017. 1220 Biochemical Sciences.
12:00pm - 1:00pm Informal Q&A with speaker.

Join us for an informal discussion about careers in science writing and science journalism with Science Journalist, Eric Vance. After working as a scientist on research projects dealing with dolphin intelligence and coastal ecology, he became an educator and then an environmental consultant. In 2005, he attended UC Santa Cruz’s famed science communication program and discovered a passion for journalism.

Vance's work focuses on the human element of science – the people who do it, those who benefit from it, and those who do not. He has written for The New York Times, Nature, Scientific American, Harper’s, National Geographic, and a number of other local and national outlets.

Discussion topics will be driven by your questions, but we plan to at least discuss why he decided to be a science writer, what he does, and his advice for postdocs who want to successfully pursue a career in his field.

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Biotech and Pharma

Monday April 3, 2017. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:00pm-1:00pm Panel Discussion. 1:00pm - 1:30pm Reception and Q&A.

Are you looking for a position in the biotechnology or pharmaceutical industry? Come learn about local and multinational companies from current employees. Companies include Takeda Pharmaceuticals U.S.A. Inc. (TPUSA), Invenra Inc., and Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc.

  • Bryan Glaser, PhD, Head of Research, Invenra, Inc.
  • Michael Lawler, PhD, Group Leader, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Stacey Melquist, PhD, Senior Scientist, Arrowhead Pharmaceuticals, Inc.
  • Matthew Wagoner, PhD, Associate Director of Mechanistic and Investigative Toxicology, Takeda Pharmaceuticals, U.S.A., Inc. (formerly with AstraZeneca)

Co-sponsored by the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Training Program and the Graduate School Office of Professional Development.

Video recording of the event here.


Careers in Government Research Labs

Tuesday March 28, 2017. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:30pm-1:30pm Panel discussion. 1:30pm-2:30pm Q&A for postdocs.

Many researchers with PhDs pursue fulfilling careers in state and federal government agencies. The mission of government agencies is distinct from academic institutions and the role of their researchers can therefore be different. Come learn how researchers in government agencies use their academic training to contribute to public policy, protect valuable resources, and help solve complex problems of national and regional importance.

  • Catherine Hein, PhD, Water Resources Management Specialist, Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, Division of Environmental Management
  • Jordan Reed, PhD, Data Scientist, US Geological Survey, National Water Quality Program
  • Katie Richgels, PhD, Branch Chief, US Geological Survey, National Wildlife Health Center

Video recording of the event available here.


Careers in the Nation's Prep Schools

Wednesday March 1, 2017. 12:30pm-1:30pm. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.

PhDs in many disciplines are competitive for positions at independent college-preparatory schools. Compared with the tenure-track job market, applicants can be more geographically selective and relocate from one high school to another more easily. These institutions allow teachers a great deal of curricular and pedagogical autonomy, the opportunity to build close relationships with students and pursue extracurricular interests, and unrestricted summer breaks to use to continue academic research or augment one’s income.

Come hear from History alumni who have followed this path:

  • Ellen Baker, PhD, Upper School History and Integrated Liberal Studies Teacher, Riverdale Country School
  • Robert Gross, PhD, Upper School History Teacher, Sidwell Friends School
  • John Hogue, PhD, Faculty in Social Sciences, Bard High School Early College
  • Stephen Kolman, PhD, Head of Upper School, Trinity School
  • Eric O'Connor, PhD, Interim History Teacher, Sidwell Friends School

Co-sponsored by the Department of History and the Graduate School Office of Professional Development.

Video recording of the event available here.


Careers in Sociology: Beyond the Tenure Track

Wednesday February 2, 2017. 12:00pm-1:30pm. 8411 Sewell Social Sciences Building.

PhDs have a wide range of careers open to them in government, the non-profit sector, and private industry, as well as higher education. Hear from Sociology alumni who will shed light on the way they employ their training as social scientists, and discuss what they find engaging and rewarding about their work.

  • Zachary Baumgart, PhD, Research Analyst, Wisconsin Department of Corrections
  • Jeffrey Hayes, PhD, Program Director, Institute for Women's Policy Research
  • Sarah Lloyd, PhD, Special Projects Coordinator, Wisconsin Farmers Union
  • Andrea Robles, PhD, Research and Evaluation Manager, Corporation for National and Community Service

Co-sponsored by the Department of Sociology, the Department of Community and Environmental Sociology, and the Graduate School Office of Professional Development.

The recording of this event is not yet available.


Careers in Research-Intensive Institutions: Assessing Your Competiveness

Tuesday January 24, 2017. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:30pm-1:30pm Panel discussion. 1:30pm-2:30pm Q&A for postdocs.

Do you privately worry that a job as a professor at a research-intensive institution is out of reach? In today’s fiercely competitive academic job market, it is important to know if you are ready to search for a position and if you will be competitive.

A range of perspectives will be provided from senior faculty who have served on search committees, as well as a recently hired assistant professor. They will candidly discuss what it takes to secure a position and how you can accurately assess your own competitiveness.

  • Paula Niedenthal, PhD, Professor, Department of Psychology
  • Tehshik Yoon, PhD, Professor, Department of Chemistry
  • Mostafa Zamanian, PhD, Assistant Professor, Department of Pathobiological Sciences

Video recording of the event available here.


Careers as a Staff Scientist in Academia

Thursday November 17, 2016. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:00pm-1:00pm Panel discussion. 1:00pm-2:00pm Q&A for postdocs.

Do you love research but know you don't want to pursue the faculty track?  A career as a staff scientist might be the right fit for you at a university or research institute. 

Researchers seeking these positions should be aware of many nuances in this career path. We invite you to make an informed career decision by hearing from a panel of staff scientists and the Secretary of the Academic Staff, who serves as a resource for them. 

  • Brian Beard, PhD, Senior Scientist, Geoscience
  • Johan Den Boon, PhD, Associate Scientist, Morgridge Institute for Research
  • Shane Hubbard, PhD, Assistant Researcher, Space Science and Engineering Center
  • Megan Spurgeon, PhD, Assistant Scientist, Oncology
  • Heather Daniels, MA, Secretary of the Academic Staff

Video recording of the event available here.


Careers in Research Cores

Thursday October 20, 2016. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:00pm - 1:00pm Panel Discussion. 1:00pm - 2:00pm Q&A Session for Postdocs.

Many PhD level researchers pursue fulfilling careers in research cores. These cores provide investigators, from academia and industry, with access to instruments, technologies and services, as well as expert consultation and training. Come learn about the diversity of different research cores, and the wide range of roles you could play within them, from the following panelists:

  • Isabelle Girard PhD, Director, Office of Campus Research Cores
  • Desiree Bates PhD, Computational Chemistry Leader, Chemistry Computer Center
  • Lingchao Zhu PhD, Instrumentation Technologist, Paul Bender Chemical Instrumentation Center

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Science Writing: Q&A with Science Writer in Residence Nadia Drake

Thursday October 6, 2016. 1360 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
10:00am - 11:00am Informal Q&A with speaker.

Join us for an informal discussion about careers in science writing and science journalism with UW-Madison Science Writer in Residence Nadia Drake.

Drake holds a doctorate in genetics from Cornell and is a graduate of the University of California, Santa Cruz’s science writing program. She has contributed to numerous publications and venues, including Nature, Wired Science and Science News. She is a contributing writer for “No Place Like Home,” a blog with National Geographic’s Phenomena science salon.

Discussion topics will be driven by your questions, but we plan to at least discuss why she decided to be a science writer, what she does and her advice for postdocs who want to successfully pursue a career in her field.

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Universities Beyond the Professoriate

Thursday September 29, 2016. 1360 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:00pm - 1:00pm Panel Discussion. 1:00pm - 2:00pm Q&A Session for Postdocs.

Have you come to love working in higher education but are not sure you want to become a professor? The truth is, most Ph.D level employees at universities have diverse and rewarding careers beyond the professoriate. Join us for a Career Exploration panel in which we will share the experiences of individuals who have held posts at top universities as deans, program directors, registrars, science editors, and in student development.

  • LaRuth McAfee, Assistant Dean for Diversity, Inclusion and Funding, The Graduate School, UW-Madison
  • Robert Pearson, Student Development Specialist, University of Texas-Arlington
  • Greta Petersen, Administrative Director, WISCIENCE, UW-Madison
  • Rebekah Pare, Associate Dean and Executive Director, Career Initiative and Career Services, College of Letters and Science, UW-Madison

This event was not recorded.


2015 - 2016 Series


Careers in Data Science

Tuesday June 7, 2016. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:00pm-1:15pm Panel Discussion. 1:15pm-2:00pm Q&A Session for Postdocs.

In the last 5 years, high performance computing, once expensive and available only to those who could afford the physical gear, has become exponentially cheaper and easily accessible via the cloud. This recent development, combined with the constant demand for organizations to become ever more efficient has led to the booming interdisciplinary field, of data science. But what is data science and what does a data scientist actually do? Our panel of PhDs from physics, math, psychology and neuroscience will discuss this new career.

  • Pamela Clevenger, PhD, Pinterest
  • Pitt Fagen, VP Data Engineering, Earthling Interactive
  • Robert Lindner, PhD, Senior Data Scientist, Earthling Interactive
  • Joshua Reed, PhD, Medical Physics, UW-Madison
  • Brianna Schuyler, PhD, Insight Data Science

Video recording of the event available here.


Careers in Patent Law and Intellectual Property

Thursday April 28, 2016. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
4:30pm-5:30pm Panel Discussion. 5:30pm-6:30pm Q&A Session for Postdocs.

Are you interested in how intellectual property becomes commercialized? Thought you needed a law degree to work in patent law? Law firms and high tech companies need patent agents and technical specialists with PhDs because they are uniquely equipped to understand the underlying technologies and inventions that need to be acquired or protected. Come listen to the following intellectual property panelists discuss their unique careers:

  • Hannah Brautigam, PhD, IP Specialist, Cellular Dynamics
  • Julia Cox, PhD, Patent Agent, Michael Best & Friedrich LLP
  • Anne Readle, JD, PhD, Associate General Counsel, Promega
  • Beth Werner, PhD, Intellectual Property Manager, WARF

Video recording of the event available here.


Career Opportunities Originating in the U.S. Army

Friday April 1, 2016. 1220 Biochemical Sciences.
12:00pm-1:00pm Presentation. 1:00pm-2:00pm Q&A Session.

Colonel Robert Casillas, PhD, an accomplished scientist, highly decorated officer and successful businessperson began his career as a Bravo 71 Research Biochemist in the U.S. Army after completing a postdoc at Vanderbilt University. His academic expertise combined with military experience has led him to be an influential advisor on chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear medical defense. In his current roles in the Army Reserves and as a Vice President at the defense contractor MRIGlobal, Casillas has advised top-level personnel in the military, the private sector, civilian government agencies, intelligence agencies and the White House. Come listen to an engaging talk in which Colonel Casillas describes how the U.S. Army was fertile ground for a multifaceted and rewarding career.

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Industry: The different roles scientists and engineers can play in a company

Monday February 8, 2016. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
12:00pm-1:00pm Panel discussion. 1:00pm-2:00pm Q&A Session for Postdocs.

What career options are there for PhD scientists and engineers in industry? The following panel of representatives from one company, Exact Sciences, will describe the breadth of jobs available.

  • Ashley Poenitzsch-Strong - Research Scientist
  • Mike Domanico - Vice President of Product Development
  • Tammy Turek-Etienne - Vice President of Company Operations
  • Belinda Baron - Director of Lab Operations
  • Shawn Honeyager - Manager, Manufacturing Sciences, & Tech Transfer
  • Mike Gruetzmacher - National Accounts Director (Sales)
  • Jennifer Garber - Senior Manager of Human Resources

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Biotech Networking Event

Wednesday November 18, 2015.
3:00pm-4:00pm Company introductions. 1345 Health Sciences Learning Center.
4:00pm-5:00pm Networking. Atrium, Health Sciences Learning Center.

Are you looking for a career in Biotechnology? Come join us for this networking event! Learn about Madison’s Biotech companies; who they are and what they specialize in. This is an opportunity to start connecting with research scientists, project managers, research and development group leaders, patent law attorneys, and other UW alumni in a causal networking setting.

Catalent Pharma Solutions | Cellular Dynamics International | Covance | Exact Sciences | IIlumina | Kendrick Labs | Lucigen | Michael Best & Friedrich LLP | Mirus Bio | Promega | PPD | Roche NimbleGen

Co-sponsored by the Cellular and Molecular Biology Graduate Program, the Molecular and Cellular Pharmacology Graduate Training Program, and the Neuroscience Training Program.

This event was not recorded.


Careers in Teaching-Intensive Institutions

Friday September 11, 2015. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
11:30am-12:30pm Panel discussion. 12:30pm-1:30pm Q&A Session for Postdocs.

There are more than 4,000 institutions of higher learning in the United States serving more than 20 million students. Less than one quarter of these students attend a research-intensive institution. Are you interested in teaching-intensive careers in higher education? Are you wondering if you have what it takes to teach at a community college or a private liberal arts college? Will you be able to continue your research? Can you have a meaningful impact on society by becoming an educator at an institution where the focus is on student learning? Come listen to the following PhD scientists talk about their rewarding careers:

  • Bart De Stasio - Lawrence University
  • Beth De Stasio - Lawrence University
  • Jeanette Mowery - Madison College
  • Thomas C. Tubon - Madison College
  • Holly Ziobro - UW-Platteville

Video recording of the event available here.


Careers in Drug Development: What to Expect in Biotech

Tuesday August 25, 2015. Auditorium, 1111 Genetics-Biotechnology Center.
9:30am-10:30am Presentation. 10:30am-11:30am Q&A Session for Postdocs.

The number of job opportunities for PhDs in Biotech and Pharma dwarfs the academic job market. Are you aware of these opportunities, and more importantly, of the differences between academic research and drug development?

Doug Kalish, PhD, entrepreneur and educator, will describe the drug development process and enumerate the roles that PhDs can play. He’ll also detail the realities of working in a non-academic environment and introduce you to the different types of business cultures you will encounter. Finally, he’ll focus on what life is like at a biotech startup – the good, the bad, and the ugly. This seminar will help you make the decision to pursue a pharma or biotech career and give you vital insights into how the industry works.

Video recording of the event available here.

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