When you’re a graduate student, your conception of ‘industry’ has a lot in common with your understanding of a black-hole.
First, you’ve been told it’s a scary and unpredictable place. (“Did you know they can just change your project or fire you at will?”)
Second, it’s a one-way trip. (“Once you step off the tenure track, there’s no going back!”)
And finally, information doesn’t escape its gravitational pull. You get plenty of visits and seminars from academic postdocs and PIs, but how many times has your department invited an industry scientist?
This week on the show, we escape the industry event-horizon by interviewing three very real, and very successful PhDs currently working at 23andMe.
Let’s meet the PhDs!
Jennifer McCreight is a Scientist, Research Communications and joined 23andMe in 2017. She communicates their research studies to broader scientific audiences via social media and blog posts and oversees their conference attendance strategy.
Previously she ran a science blog and gave 50+ lectures on genetics and evolution for the general public. Jennifer earned her PhD in Genome Sciences from the University of Washington, where she studied the evolution of microRNA in primates and was a National Science Foundation graduate research fellow.
Fah Sathirapongsasuti is a Senior Scientist, Computational Biology and joined 23andMe in 2013. He analyzes research participant data to identify new therapeutic targets through the integration of genomic and biomedical data with the goal of realizing precision medicine.
Research Fah conducted for his PhD studies at Harvard – developing the first method to detect copy number variations from exome sequencing data – has been cited more than 100 times. As an undergraduate at Stanford University, he earned the President’s Award for Academic Excellence.
Janie Shelton is a Senior Scientist, Data Collection and joined 23andMe in 2015. She is responsible for developing novel areas of online data collection and analyzing data on a wide-range of phenotypes.
Prior to 23andMe, she worked at the United Nations Office of Drugs and Crime where she focused on survey methods and analytical techniques to estimate the number of people among various hidden populations. Janie has also worked at the University of California, Davis, investigating environmental causes for the increase in autism spectrum disorders observed in California.
Janie earned her PhD in Epidemiology at University of California, Davis and her Masters in Public Health, Biostatistics & Epidemiology from the University of Southern California.
We asked Jennifer, Fah, and Janie to reflect on their graduate school journeys, and how their training prepared them for industry.
In our interview, they talk about the importance of extra-curricular activities to career success, ways to learn more about industry jobs through internships and informational interviews, and why academia needs to improve its policies for student work-life balance and mental health.
Whether you’re committed to the tenure track or are thinking about exploring an industry career, these three successful scientists will give you valuable insights to help you navigate your own path.
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