Symposium Builds Excitement for Careers at the Nexus of Engineering and Life Sciences

Achievement date: 

Undergraduate science and engineering majors at historically black Prairie View A&M University in Texas participated in a career symposium exploring the wide range of professional engineering and life sciences opportunities in industry and education available to those with a Ph.D. The 2012 event, entitled What You Can Be with a Ph.D.: Navigating Interdisciplinary Research at the Intersection of Engineering and the Life Sciences, was a partnership between Prairie  View’s  Roy  G. Perry  College  of Engineering  and the Synthetic Biology Engineering Research Center (SynBERC), an NSF-funded center headquartered at the University of California at Berkeley.


Symposium speakers described career opportunities, the graduate school experience, and the thrill of making a difference through research. The students were excited and engaged, and contributed a fresh perspective to the speakers, as well. SynBERC Education Director Susan Marqusee said, “It was a two-way street: the presenters learned from the students and the students learned from the presenters. A real win-win!”


While graduate school may not be not for the faint of heart, symposium speakers said that it was well worth it because it gives a clear advantage in securing creative, highly sought after jobs. In addition, because graduate education emphasizes attractive skills such as strategic thinking, complex problem solving, and the ability to master new information rapidly, PhDs have important leadership skills to offer in a rapidly changing job market. Other speakers covered the nuts and bolts of the graduate school application process, including how the admissions process works and how undergraduates can prepare themselves to be competitive applicants.

Event highlights included presentations by young scientists about their research and what it means, including groundbreaking work in tissue engineering is harnessing the body's ability to heal itself, and efforts using light for precisely regulating complex biological processes.