Working Lives: Exploring the wealth of job opportunities available after a life sciences PhD: a collection of interviews

Claudia Stocker

Working Lives

Exploring the wealth of job opportunities available after a life sciences PhD

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The skills and knowledge gained during a life science PhD open up a wide range of career possibilities. In this series of interviews, we talk to graduates in the early stages of their careers to find out how their time in research has helped them build their working lives.

  1. Of all the tools that Diana Ordonez used to study populations of immune cells during her PhD and postdoc research, flow cytometry was the most important. Now she uses her experience and skills to advise and support other researchers as a Flow Cytometrist at the European Molecular Biology Laboratory (EMBL) in Heidelberg, Germany.

  2. After finishing his PhD in cancer genomics, Yilong Li felt that most academic labs did not have the computational infrastructure needed to tackle clinically relevant questions in genomics. He is now a Principal Scientist at a company called Seven Bridges Genomics.

  3. Neuroscientist Leslee Lazar has always been interested in design and art. Now, as a freelance graphic designer, he creates visual aids that communicate complex scientific information – especially biomedical research – to the right audience.

  4. After completing a PhD in biochemistry, Dennis Breitsprecher was sure that he wanted to pursue an academic career. However, he grew bored of constantly writing papers and grant applications as a postdoc, and is now Head of Biochemistry R&D at NanoTemper in Munich.

  5. While doing a PhD in Pharmacology at King’s College London (KCL), Maria Fernandes seized a number of opportunities – setting up the KCL Pharmacological Society, organising events and sitting on committees – to gain enough experience to move into a career outside of research. She is now the Professional Development Manager at the Microbiology Society.

  6. Growing up on a game ranch in Zimbabwe stimulated Ben Price’s fascination with insects – “the sheer diversity of insects makes it impossible to not be interested once you start looking”. He continued to explore nature during a PhD on the evolutionary history of cicadas, and two postdocs. Now, he is the senior curator of Odonata and Small Orders, an eclectic group that includes land-based and aquatic insects, at the Natural History Museum in London.

  7. For many years plant scientist Monica Alandete-Saez assumed that she would spend her whole career in academic research, but a desire to interact more directly with other sectors of society led her to explore other options. She now works for PIPRA, a small not-for-profit technology commercialization organization based on the campus of the University of California Davis.

  8. After six enjoyable years as a PhD student and postdoc studying the breeding behaviours of banded mongooses in Uganda, Jenni Sanderson felt the urge to move into a career where she could do “something useful”. She currently teaches science at a secondary school in Bristol in the UK.