Building a Career in Science: Academia or Industry?

If you’re a student in a research lab, discussing career options with your PI can be a tricky topic to navigate. Whether real or perceived, many students feel they cannot bring up the subject of a career in industry with their PI because they will lose credibility as a serious researcher. In labs where thinking about careers outside of academia is taboo, students can’t get all the information they need to decide what career path is right for them.

This dilemma became very clear a few weeks ago when I served as a panelist for a career workshop about jobs in industry at the iGEM 2018 Giant Jamboree. The workshop participants were extremely engaged, and we fielded questions well after the official end time. Since I know there are other students who could benefit from information about science-related careers in industry, I’ve compiled some of the questions and answers from the workshop. Continue reading

Why Hasn’t the “Alternative” Become Mainstream?

Pearl Jam, a popular alternative rock band in the 1990s (and still pretty awesome!). Photo credit: Rolling Stone Magazine.

This post could easily start out as an ode to ’90s alternative music (of which I’m a huge fan). That new and totally different sound (a la Pearl Jam, Smashing Pumpkins, Soundgarden, Nirvana, etc.) in the 1990s eventually made its way into the mainstream as it gained popularity. (I have to say that I got a shock when I recently heard some Pearl Jam on “classic rock” radio stations. But I digress…)

Why isn’t the same true for science career paths? Science careers outside of academia are still referred to as “alternative.” Continue reading

Broaden Your Horizons While Pursuing Your Doctorate—You Will Be Glad You Did

For this posting, I had promised to include some commentary on ACTION.

image credit: ComiCONNMitch via Wikimedia Commons

image credit: ComiCONNMitch via Wikimedia Commons

What can someone pursuing a doctorate in the biosciences DO during that time to widen the possibilities of employment in the future? In general, the process of obtaining the doctorate has been criticized for taking too long and not doing enough to prepare students for what they will do when they graduate. Considering these criticisms, it seems wrong to create additional check-boxes on the student to-do list leading up to graduation. Therefore, these things are not in addition to what is already expected, but are instead the same things that are already happening re-focused. Continue reading

Understanding Knowledge Transfer at the Doctoral Level – One Pathway to Better Career Development – An Introduction

Few studies have been conducted about knowledge transfer at the PhD level.

Few studies have been conducted about knowledge transfer at the PhD level.

Though my work is primarily in the area of biotechnology, my doctoral degree is in education. Over my next few posts, I thought that I would share some of the findings that came out of research I conducted for my dissertation.  It’s been over two years since graduation and much of this is still not published, though on my honor it’s in the works…I focused my study on understanding knowledge transfer at the doctoral level.  I was able to complete this work due to the generosity of many doctoral students, recent graduates and mentors across the country. This research was not funded in any way, but I believe it is of great importance given the socio-political context we are all functioning in as learners and professionals.  Also, many studies that are similar to the one I did are funded, with a great deal of money I might add. So, without further ado, let me start by introducing the concept of knowledge transfer and why developing knowledge transfer skills are important.

“Knowledge transfer” is a concept grounded in K-12 education and in a general sense refers to an individual’s ability to use knowledge gained in one context in another (similar or dissimilar) context. Continue reading