career paths. I quickly realized how much I enjoyed working
with college students and helping them see that chemistry can
truly be an enjoyable and rewarding subject. With my purpose
restored, I entered into a Ph.D. program, hoping to ultimately
obtain a faculty position.
Once I started graduate school, I had no idea the adventure
that was in store for me. At the end of my second year, I made
the very tough decision of transferring schools to follow my advisor, who had left to become the department chair at another
institution. Following the “road less traveled” was initially the
toughest thing I had ever done. However, it turned out to be an
excellent decision. I formed a great relationship with my doctoral
advisor, completed my degree in a reasonable time frame, and
obtained a faculty position at a liberal arts institution after graduating. Now, I can impart my enthusiasm for chemistry to all who
take my classes.
The field of chemistry is constantly in need of good educators.
If you think you want to teach at the college level one day, then
graduate school is the first step towards achieving that goal!
Posted by Will
I knew as a graduate student about life in industry. Talking with
your chemistry department alumni who are currently working in
industry provides insight into their experience; however, these
conversations cannot provide the same understanding as being
in the situation. Internships provide valuable information for
those deciding what to do in life after graduate school.
Posted by Chris
Tips for Moving Up
I didn’t know in high school or undergrad
which career path I wanted to take, but I
knew that I wanted to “move up.” After I
learned that not only is a chemistry Ph.D.
“free” but also that I could earn a stipend,
graduate school was an obvious choice. I
chose my research group based on my inter-
ests and the recommendation of my under-
graduate advisor. This was one of the most important decisions
of my career. My Ph.D. advisor continually inspired me, and this
inspiration helped me work through difficult times. I also knew
from undergraduate research, teaching, and internships that I
liked variety in my work, specifically a mix of synthesis, charac-
terization, analysis, etc. I looked for a similar mix in my first job.
I’m thrilled now to be able to contribute technically while also
managing people, developing new projects, and teaching.
The value of marketing and communication skills really stands
out. Balancing these with good technical skills will give you an
edge in the workplace.
I encourage you to carefully observe people who you can
learn from, and always ask questions. It’s an efficient way to
learn and grow.
BURT HOLLANDSWORTH is assistant professor of chemistry at Harding
University in Searcy, AR. He obtained his Ph.D. at The Ohio State University in
PHIL MACHONIS earned a master’s degree at the University of Florida in
2008 and is a research associate with Mars Botanical, a division of Mars, Inc.
STEPHEN CANHAM is a third-year graduate student at the University of
California, Irvine. His research is focused on the total synthesis of alkaloid
Posted by Jennifer
A Missed Opportunity: Industrial
Looking back at my graduate school experience, five years after receiving my Ph.D., I
wish I would have taken the opportunity to
participate in a summer industrial internship.
As an organic chemist in the pharmaceutical
industry, only now do I understand how little
WILL CASE is director of introductory chemistry labs and general chemistry
coordinator at the University of Richmond. He received a Ph.D. from Rensselaer
Polytechnic Institute in 2007.
JENNIFER SAMPLE received a Ph.D. from UCLA in 2001 and is currently a
senior scientist at the Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory.
CHRISTOPHER J. CIOLLI is a scientist in process chemistry at Ricera
Biosciences, LLC in Concord, OH. He earned his Ph.D. at the University of
Wisconsin–Madison in 2004.