PhD Career Connections: 2013-2014 Seminar Series

connection-logo.jpgVanderbilt PhD Career Connections is a monthly seminar series about career options for PhD scientists. Speakers from a diverse range of exciting scientific careers present their career path and share insights from their professional experiences. The series is run by VUMC PhD students and postdoctoral fellows and sponsored by the BRET Office of Career Development. Advance registration is requested for all seminars. Click on the speaker name to register and view event details and speaker bios.

For more information on the series, to suggest a speaker, or to become a member of the PhD Career Connections Planning Committee, please contact Kate Stuart

2013-2014 PhD Career Connections

Month Topic Speaker


Patent Law Dr. Seth Ogden, PhD, JD, Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, & Dunner, LLP

RESCHEDULED for 12/11/13
co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach

Science Outreach Panel Discussion with Melissa Fischer, PhD; Kimberly Mulligan, PhD; and Kristin McGraner, EdD


Science Policy Dr. Kenneth Gibbs, PhD, AAAS Science and Technology Fellow
(view Dr. Gibb's presentation online at

co-sponsored by the Life Science Tennessee Academic Aliance

Entrepreneurship Panel Discussion with Alan Marnett, PhD; and Jud Schneider, PhD

co-sponsored by the Chemical Biology Association of Students

Technical Sales Panel Discussion with Sara Fitzgerald, PhD, Christine Rozanas, PhD, and Eric Roush, PhD of GE Healthcare
Reflections of a Mentor-Scientist Dr. Kathy Gould, PhD, Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences, "Taking Charge of Your Career: Reflections of a Mentor-Scientist"
co-sponsored by the Editors' Club
Writing "The Road to Writing with Your PhD" Panel Discussion with Elise Lamar, PhD; Stephen Ornes, and Bill Snyder
co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt University Advanced Degree Consulting Club
Technical Consulting Dr. Jason Clevenger, PhD, Principal Scientist, Exponent
Science Publishing Dr. Mirella Bucci, PhD, Senior Editor, Nature Chemical Biology


PhD Career Connections presents

Patent Law

Discussion with: 

Dr. Seth Ogden, PhD, JD
Attorney at Law
Finnegan, Henderson, Farabow, Garrett, and Dunner, LLP
Washington, DC 

Wednesday, September 11, 2013
Location: PRB, Room 206

Seth Ogden focuses his practice on patent litigation, patent prosecution, and client counseling primarily in the areas of pharmaceuticals and biotechnology. 

Dr. Ogden's litigation experience includes matters before U.S. district courts and the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Federal Circuit. He has managed fact discovery, worked with fact witnesses, and drafted complaints and motions. Dr. Ogden also actively prosecutes patent applications in the biotechnology area, including technologies such as antibodies and drug delivery systems. In addition, he has experience in client counseling, including preparing opinions of counsel. 

While in law school, Dr. Ogden worked at Finnegan as a summer associate and as a law clerk. His doctoral studies included work on host-pathogen interactions that mediate cell-signaling events leading to the development of inflammation and cancer.

PhD Career Connections presents

Science Outreach

Panel Discussion 

Speakers include:

ReGina Etter, Melissa Fischer, and Kimberly Mulligan

Thursday, October 10, 2013
Location: PRB, Room 206
Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Center for Science Outreach. 
Advance registration requested. 

Bios for the speakers:

Melissa A. Fischer, Ph.D.
Dr. Fischer received her B.S. in Genetic Bioengineering from Purdue University and her Ph.D. in Biochemistry at Vanderbilt University Medical Center. She is currently the Scientist in the Classroom for the Interdisciplinary Science and Research (ISR) Program at Hillsboro High School as well as an Adjunct Instructor in the Department of Biology at Belmont University. Through these two positions, it is her goal to utilize her passions for science and teaching to spark a desire to be a life-long science learner in each of her students, regardless of their chosen profession.


ReGina Etter, Ph.D.
Dr. ReGina A. Etter (Instructional Designer/MRT) brings to Hattie Cotton STEM Magnet Elementary School over 25 years of experience in the area of professional development and classroom instruction.  Through the MSAP grant, our MRT (Materials Resource Teacher) provides: curriculum designing, professional development and science enrichment opportunities. ReGina has worked with Tennessee State University, Vanderbilt University, Trevecca University, Middle Tennessee State University, Belmont University and Aquinas University in the area of INQUIRY BASED science instruction. She is a graduate of the Science Exploratorium in San Francisco, Ca. and The Sally Ride Science Academy. Her belief in the “power and promise” of education is quite evident in the innovative and exciting lessons she designs and presents for the teachers and students.

Kimberly Mulligan, Ph.D.
Kimberly Mulligan attended Florida Agricultural & Mechanical University where she received her B.S and M.S in Chemistry. After leaving Florida A&M, Kimberly pursued her Ph.D. at Vanderbilt University in the Department of Molecular Physiology and Biophysics. Her dissertation research examined the mechanism by which insulin-stimulated skeletal muscle glucose uptake is impaired in the presence of inflammation. In addition to her graduate work, Kimberly was a founding member of the Alliance for Cultural Diversity in Research (ACDR) and served as the Community Outreach Chair for several years. During this time she was able to initiate member participation in key outreach activities including Family Science Night and Volunteer Scientist in the Classroom at several middle schools. Upon completion of her graduate work, Kimberly decided to go the nontraditional route and became a Research Fellow with the Center for Science Outreach (CSO) at Vanderbilt University. In this position she has been able to merge her love of science and desire to enhance STEM education at the K-12 level. In her current position, she focuses on the development of novel, research-based scientific curriculum for implementation at the secondary education level at Stratford STEM Magnet and Hillsboro High Schools. Additionally, she works in conjunction with other scientist to provide professional development opportunities for teachers to foster scientific learning across curriculum. She also serves as the Program Coordinator for the Research Experience for High School Students (REHSS) which is a 6-week scientific research internship for rising high school seniors. A number of national publications as well as scientific professional societies have called for increased involvement of university scientists in the education of our K-12 youth. Kimberly is hopeful that her role in developing CSO programs will provide a model for how scientists can and should be involved. 

PhD Career Connections presents

Science Policy 

Discussion with: 
Dr. Kenneth Gibbs

Wednesday, November 13, 2013
12:15-1:15 PM
Location: Light Hall, Room 208
Advance registration requested.  
Kenneth Gibbs is currently serving as a Cancer Prevention Fellow with the National Cancer Institute (NCI). From 2011-2013, he served as a Science and Technology Policy Fellow with the American Association for the Advancement of Science (AAAS) where he conducted empirical research on STEM workforce development, specifically the factors that influence graduate school into and through postdoctoral training as well as undergraduate into graudate education in engineering. He also drafted sections of the federal government's STEM education Coordinated Strategic Plan for Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP).
He received his BS in Biochemistry and Molecular Biology from the University of Maryland, and his PhD in the Multidisciplinary Program in Immunology at Stanford University. He also completed his postdoctoral training at Stanford under the advising of Garry Nolan. He is currently pursuing an MPH through the John Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.  

PhD Career Connections presents


Panel Discussion 

with Alan Marnett, PhD, of Benchfly
and Jud Schneider, PhD, of NextGxDx 

Thursday, December 12, 2013
Location: PRB, Room 206
Advance registration requested.  

Alan Marnett, Benchfly

As the son and grandson of chemists, I was certainly aware of a possible genetic predisposition research so it wasn't terribly surprising that I found my place in an organic chemistry lab at Trinity University. Over the next fifteen years, my research career and interests evolved. I earned a Ph.D. in Chemical Biology from UCSF and performed my postdoctoral research in Neuroscience in the Picower Institute for Learning and Memory at MIT. It was during my years in the lab I realized that despite the incredible advances in technology and scientific knowledge in the past 50 years, the training and support process for research scientists was still stuck in the dark ages--and BenchFly was born. 

Jud Schneider, NextGxDx

With a passion for bridging the scientific and medical worlds, Jud is dedicated to translating basic science discovery into actionable medical technology. With over 12 years of experience in clinical and biomedical research, Jud brings deep experience in genetics, genomics, next-generation sequencing, and high-throughput data analysis to the team. Having spent both time in the clinic and at the bench, he is focused on providing relevant and accurate testing information to physicians at the appropriate point in their workflow.

Outside of science, Jud has experience in economic development, government relations, technology commercialization, and education. Jud has founded programs at Vanderbilt University designed to facilitate the commercialization of laboratory-developed technology by building bridges between scientists, businesses, investors, and state government. He is intimately involved with Life Science Tennessee, the state's biotechnology association, currently serving on the Education and Workforce Development Committee and the Board of Directors.

Jud performed both his PhD, in Cell and Developmental Biology, and fellowship, in Molecular Endocrinology and Biophysics, at Vanderbilt University.

Join us January 14, 2014, for a PhD Career Connections seminar about Careers in Technical Sales and Support, co-sponsored by the Chemical Biology Association of Students (CBAS). This panel discussion will be from 8:30-9:30am in Preston Research Building Room 206. The discussion will feature Dr. Sara Fitzgerald, Dr. Christine Rozanas, and Dr. Eric Roush of GE Healthcare.

Dr. Sara Fitzgerald is a Field Sales Manager at GE Healthcare. In this dual role, Dr. Fitzgerald has her own territory, in which she is a technical sales representative for the protein separations products.  In addition, she manages a team of four other sales specialists throughout the southeast.  Sara is a graduate of Vanderbilt University’s IGP program, and she obtained her PhD in Molecular Biology in 1998.

Dr. Christine Rozanas is Marketing Leader for protein separations products at GE Healthcare Life Sciences. She has held various roles within GE Healthcare that have led to this role.  She has a PhD in Chemistry from the University of Minnesota and did her post-doctoral work at UCSF.  Chris is very closely involved in the sales process at all stages.

Dr. Eric Roush is Principal Application Scientist for Biacore and MicroCal Products at GE Healthcare Life Sciences. In this role, Eric works with the sales specialists by consulting with customers both during the pre-sales stage and after the sale has been completed.  He is responsible for assisting the sales specialist to ensure that the technology is a good fit for the customer’s need.  He performs product demonstrations using technology and customer samples. Also, Eric provides all training and support for customers after they have purchased.   Eric holds a PhD from Duke University.

Advance registration is requested at

PhD Career Connections presents

Taking Charge of Your Career: Reflections of a Mentor-Scientist

 A discussion with
Dr. Kathy Gould
Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences 

Thursday, February 13, 2014

Location: Preston Research Building Room 206
Advance registration requested.  
[kathy gould]  

Kathy Gould, Ph.D., is the Associate Dean for Biomedical Sciences, the Director of the Vanderbilt International Scholar Program, the Director of Graduate Student Support at Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, a Louise B. McGavock Chair, and Professor of Cell and Developmental Biology. Dr. Gould oversees the activities of the BRET Office of Career Development, working with the directors of graduate studies for each Ph.D. program affiliated with the School of Medicine to support graduate student training. She also leads the VUMC Research Staff Award Committee and the Institutional Biomedical/Biological Sciences Internal Review Committee for limited submission opportunities.

Dr. Gould received her A.B. degree from University of California, Berkeley, and her Ph.D. from the University of California, San Diego, and was a Fellow of the Jane Coffin Childs Memorial Fund with Sir Paul Nurse at Oxford University. She became an Investigator of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute shortly after establishing her own laboratory at Vanderbilt University, where her laboratory focuses on obtaining a mechanistic understanding of how cell division is achieved and regulated.

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. 

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.

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

Technical Consulting
a presentation by Jason Clevenger
Thursday, April 10
PRB 206

 Co-sponsored by the Vanderbilt Advanced Degree Consulting Club.
Registration requested.

Dr. Jason Clevenger is a Principal Scienstist in Polymer Science and Materials Chemistry with Exponent, an engineering and scientific consulting company. Dr. Clevenger’s expertise focuses on materials characterization and process engineering for specialty manufacturing, with a particular emphasis on regulated products such as medical devices and pharmaceuticals.

Dr. Clevenger’s physical chemistry experience is applicable to problems involving materials such as semiconductors, MEMS, metal films, dielectrics, polymers, materials processing, materials characterization, pharmaceutical process chemistry, identification of trace contaminants including organics and particulates, and corrosion processes.

His pharmaceutical experience includes process engineering and optimization for transdermal and solid oral formulations, regulatory compliance and CMC (Chemistry, Manufacturing, and Controls) related issues involving root cause analysis, corrective and preventive action plans, quality assurance, and Quality by Design initiatives. His medical device experience includes method development for regulatory submissions, product development and manufacturing support, and technology due diligence assessment.

His characterization background encompasses a broad range of advanced technologies and techniques including laser spectroscopy, X-ray photoelectron spectroscopy (XPS), Auger spectroscopy, Raman, FTIR, solid/liquid-NMR, optical emission/absorption spectroscopy, energy dispersive spectroscopy (EDS), white-light interferometry, spectroscopic ellipsometry, atomic force microscopy (AFM), and secondary ion mass spectrometry (SIMS). In addition, he has extensive experience with plasma chemistry and spectroscopy, thin film metrology and reliability, high vacuum technology, and semiconductor processing.

Dr. Clevenger received his B.A. in Chemistry (magna cum laude with High Honors) from Vanderbilt University in 1995. He received his Ph.D. in Physical Chemistry from Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in 2002.

The BRET Office of Career Development presents:

PhD Career Connections: Science Publishing
Thursday, May 1
Light Hall, Room 512

featuring Mirella Bucci, Senior Editor, Nature Chemical Biology 

***Registration is requested.***

Mirella Bucci graduated with a PhD in molecular and cellular biology from Washington University where she worked with Susan Wente on nuclear pore complex assembly. She moved onto a postdoctoral position at Stanford, working with Ron Kopito on protein aggregation in the context of neurodegenerative disease. Finding that she loved to read the literature even well outside of the areas in which she was working, she pursued positions in on science communication. Her first non-academic position was as the cell biology editor for Nature in London. After moving back to the US, she briefly worked as a copywriter at a healthcare communications agency and as a freelance science writer. She is currently a senior editor at Nature Chemical Biology in the San Francisco Nature office. She and three other editors read and evaluate >100 manuscripts a month and mange peer review of those that make the first editorial cut. They all ultimately put together the entire journal every month, which includes writing editorials, commissioning Review articles and writing brief stories about papers appearing in the journal as well as the wider literature.

Nature Chemical Biology is an international monthly journal that provides a high-visibility forum for the publication of top-tier original research and commentary in chemical biology, a field that combines the scientific ideas and approaches of chemistry, biology and allied disciplines to understand and manipulate biological systems with molecular precision. We seek to publish manuscripts that report major conceptual or methodological advances at the chemistry-biology interface that are likely to open up innovative avenues of research in the field. In addition to publishing original research, Nature Chemical Biology provides a forum for the exchange of ideas between scientists in the chemical and life sciences and a community resource for this emerging field. To this end, we publish content including review articles, highlights of relevant research published in other journals and commentaries that present topics of scientific and community interest. I will describe the scope and content of the journal, the submission and editorial selection process, and the role (and hopefully, value) of professional editors. I will also describe the ways that we and journals in general are changing with new trends in publishing (think open access, reproducibility, and social networking).