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PhD Career Connections: The Road to a Career in Writing with Your PhD

Posted by on Tuesday, February 4, 2014 in Upcoming BRET Office of Career Development Events .

PhD Career Connections and the Office of Biomedical Research Education and Training present:

“The Road to a Career in Writing with your PhD”
featuring Elise Lamar, PhD, Stephen Ornes, and Bill Snyder
Wednesday, March 12
PRB 206
Registration requested.

Co-sponsored with the Editors’ Club.

 Hear how a career in writing can be a viable path!


Elise Lamar, PhD is a science and grant writer. After working as a technician in labs in San Diego, she went to grad school in midlife and earned a PhD in biomedical sciences at UCSD. As student and then as a postdoc at Salk Institute, she supplemented her income doing manuscript editing and writing, and in the end decided to make a living from it.

In 2007 Elise took a job as science reporter at City of Hope (COH), a comprehensive cancer center in LA. There she also worked with COH’s Foundations group to help researchers prepare grants aimed at private funders. Now living in Nashville, she still works on contract with COH and is a full-time freelance science and medical writer. Elise has diverse clients in science writing (for the Stowers Institute in Kansas City and Salk Institute) and grant and manuscript writing, for COH, the Sanford-Burnham Institute in La Jolla, and investigators abroad. She is a member of NASW and AMWA. 

Stephen Ornes is an award-winning freelance science journalist and author who specializes in math, physics, astronomy and cancer research; he also writes articles about science and scientists for children. His books include a young adult biography of mathematician  Sophie Germain and the Science Writers’ Handbook, published in April 2013, on which he was one of 25 coauthors. His work has appeared in Discover, Nature, PNAS, New Scientist, OnEarth, Science News for Students, Physics World, Cancer Today and other publications. He’s a co-editor and teaches an undergraduate class on science communication at Vanderbilt (which graduate students are welcome to audit).  

Bill Snyder is senior science writer in the Vanderbilt University Medical Center Office of News & Communications. He writes stories about biomedical research for university publications including the VUMC’s weekly newspaper, The Reporter (, and the university’s Research News website ( 

Snyder earned a B.S. in Biology from Stanford University in 1977. He also studied biochemistry at Oxford University as a Rotary Foundation International Fellow. He covered health care and biomedical science for newspapers, including The Tennessean, for more than 20 years before joining the Vanderbilt staff in 2002.

Snyder has received several awards for his reporting, and for a biomedical research magazine,Lens, which he edited and produced for VUMC between 2003 and 2009. That magazine can be found on-line at He also has traveled to Haiti and Mozambique to cover Vanderbilt’s international AIDS programs. 

More recently, Snyder has mentored several Vanderbilt graduate students, postdoctoral fellows and others in science writing. One is now an intern in science communications in the National Cancer Institute’s Office of Cancer Genomics, and another just landed a newly created science communications/science policy position with a professional society for vision researchers.

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