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You're All Different - Creating your own career


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Keynote talk presented at 2013 Naturejobs Career Expo.

How do people move into jobs after their PhD? When did they know what they wanted to do for the rest of their lives — or have they never figured it out? There is no fixed path to a career in science, but this talk shows how several people each created a career of their own, sometimes in very unexpected ways. Even though everyone is different, there are a few common themes among these stories of finding a career after a science PhD.

* I've deliberately not made this talk CC-licensed or downloadable, because it contains various company logos and people's photos that were only intended for use in this talk.
* The transcript below was automatically generated. I know it's ugly, but I can't fix it or remove it - sorry!

  • Very intersting presentation. I specifically like your vision of paths that can be crossing again. It is important I think to note that a career in industry does not limit you to industry all your life... The reciprocal sentence is also valid for academia... Thanks for sharing
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You're All Different - Creating your own career

  1. 1. You're all different: Creating your own career Eva Amsen @easternblot Naturejobs Career Expo 19 September 2013 PhotobyJamesCridland
  2. 2. After a science PhD ...but who are these people? FromtheRoyalSocietyreport“TheScientificCentury”
  3. 3. Some people with science PhDs They're everywhere!
  4. 4. Post-PhD careers Even though all professors have been PhD students, most PhD students will not become professors. Where do they end up? Science writing, industry, patent law, medicine, teaching, media and arts, startup companies, museums, humanities, academic publishing, consulting, policy etc.
  5. 5. Eva Amsen  PhD in Biochemistry  Freelance writing (started during PhD, via blogs)  Community Manager for the Node, a site for developmental biologists (Development)  Outreach Director for F1000Research, a new journal that does open, post- publication peer review.
  6. 6. THE PUBLICATION PROCESS •F1000Research articles are published online after an in-house pre-refereeing check, on average, within 6 working days. •Peer review and revisions are carried out publicly. •Articles with sufficient positive referee reports are indexed in PubMed.
  7. 7. Combining degree and other things For some jobs, the things you do on the side matter as well. – Teaching – Blogging – Volunteer work – Student societies – Public engagement activities
  8. 8. Nicole Husain  PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology  Let's Talk Science - Coordinator of Partnership Program (during PhD)  Director of Operations at Spongelab Interactive (educational games)
  9. 9. Christine Buske  PhD in Behavioural Neuroscience  Freelance writing and consulting (during PhD)  “Papers Genius”  Marketing Manager for Papers
  10. 10. Joe Hanson  PhD in Cell & Molecular Biology  It's Okay To Be Smart - Tumblr blog (during PhD)  Internship at Wired  YouTube channel with PBS Digital Studios.
  11. 11. Social media and careers “I think [having a blog] gave me a unique edge over other candidates.” - Pete Etchells, lecturer in biological psychology and Guardian blogger “Among other reasons, the project leaders chose me as editor because I have a blog where I wrote about bad health news.” - Marcus Anhauser, science journalist and editor of
  12. 12. Science on Twitter #njce13
  13. 13. So, do I need to do all that? Only join Twitter or start a blog if you want to or think it's useful for you. Likewise, for many jobs you don't need to do a postdoc, unless you think it's useful for you. People who say that you need to do X for your career, often did X themselves.
  14. 14. Petra de Kruijf  PhD Molecular Pharmacology  Biochemical Project Leader at Sanquin – Blood transfusion medicine and immunology research company. – Work: e.g. Writing research protocols as well as process validation protocols and reports; Determine product impact.
  15. 15. Erika Cule  PhD Statistical Genetics (after degrees in Biochemistry and Bioinformatics)  Principal Statistician at GSK – Advise lab-based scientists on statistics. – Perform analysis and explain results to scientists. – Provide support for experimental methods.
  16. 16. PhD skills PhD is experience, not just means to an end. It's not always about the degree.
  17. 17. Lou Woodley  PhD in Gene Expression and Microbiology (not finished)  Co-founder and Managing Editor of BlueSci (during PhD)  Graduate intern at Nature Publishing Group  Communities Specialist at Nature Publishing Group
  18. 18. Bora Zivkovic  PhD in Animal Behaviour (not finished)  Science blogger  Online community manager at PLOS  Blog Editor and Community Manager at Scientific American
  19. 19. It's okay to change your mind
  20. 20. Alasdair Allan  PhD Astrophysics  Academia: – Programmer – Lecturer – Senior Research Fellow  Independent/freelance: – Consulting, writing, editing, startup CTO “You don't have to settle for doing one thing at a time.”
  21. 21. Cameron Neylon  PhD Chemistry  Lecturer  Senior Scientist for the Science and Technology Facilities Council  Open Access advocate  Advocacy Director at PLOS
  22. 22. Ben Lillie  PhD in Physics  Postdoc  Contributing Editor TED  Co-founder and Director of Story Collider
  23. 23. Kara Cerveny  Science teacher  PhD in Cell Biology and Biochemistry  Postdoc  Scientific Editor at Cell  Assistant Professor of Biology at Reed College
  24. 24. You can't control everything PhotobyJasonVarneyforTheScientist, 2006
  25. 25. Douglas Prasher PhD in Biochemistry Cloned the gene for GFP Didn't get tenure, left academia Laid off from industry job in 2006 due to funding cuts Found job as shuttle bus driver for a car company Did not receive the 2008 Nobel Prize for the discovery of GFP Now works as research scientist for Roger Tsien (who did win the Nobel Prize for GFP) Full story: Discover Magazine, 2011
  26. 26. Jenny Rohn  PhD in Microbiology  Postdoc → Lab disbanded  Industry → Company went bankrupt  Wrote a novel...  Career in publishing  Now back in academia, in a series of short contracts
  27. 27. There is no fixed path PhotobyJimmyGuano
  28. 28. Ethan Perlstein  PhD in Molecular and Cellular Biology  Postdoc at Broad Institute  Fellow at Princeton  Crowdfunded a research project  Independent scientist
  29. 29. Anne Osterrieder  PhD in Plant Cell Biology  Postdoc  Plant Cell Biology blog  Research and Science Communication Fellow at Oxford Brookes University
  30. 30. Your future job might not exist yet! Our current jobs didn't exist when we started our PhDs!
  31. 31. Varsha Khodiyar  PhD in Molecular Biology  Human gene nomenclature advisor  Cardiovascular Gene Ontology Annotator  Lecturer in Bioinformatics and Gene Ontology  Editorial biocurator at F1000Research (Curation and maintenance of data included with articles)
  32. 32. FromtheRoyalSocietyreport“TheScientificCentury” It’s more complicated!
  34. 34. Personal science career stories In progress: Online collection of personal science career stories
  35. 35. “At a conference the most important things happen in the coffee break. (…) The most important things happen in interstitial spaces, they happen in between, and they happen when we least expect it.” -Hans Ulrich Obrist (art curator)
  36. 36. Thanks & Contact info Thanks to Nicole Husain, Christine Buske, Joe Hanson, Pete Etchells, Marcus Anhauser, Petra de Kruijf, Erika Cule, Lou Woodley, Bora Zivkovic, Alasdair Allan, Cameron Neylon, Ben Lillie, Kara Cerveny, Jenny Rohn, Ethan Perlstein, Anne Osterrieder and Varsha Khodiyar for their input. Most of them are on Twitter! Find them here: Twitter: @easternblot